Jul 2007

Walk in Carpenter's Woods with Dr. Ann Rhoades

Last Saturday many of us in the neighborhood were privileged to walk in the woods with the author of Pennsylvania Trees, Dr. Ann Rhoades. (I'll be posting a short video of Dr. Rhoades' talk in the weeks to come.) We identified native and non-native species and talked about the many issues of invasive plants. Non-native plants and trees on their own may not be harmful, but if they crowd out native species, they can harm wildlife by removing food and habitat. In Carpenter's Woods we are very aware of the incursions of Japanese Knotweed, Multiflora Rose, Garlic Mustard, Winged Euonymous, English Ivy, and Norway Maple.

We came away from her talk committed to planting oak trees in and around Carpenter's Woods in the coming years. (See part 2 of GROVE) The oak trees flower in early spring, drawing the migrant warblers that have made Carpenter's Woods a birding mecca for years. Now the old oaks are dying and new oaks must be planted and tended if we want the warblers to keep coming to our small but important stop on their migratory routes. If you are interested in joining our treeplanting efforts just use the e-mail link and I will add your name to our treetenders email lists.


A tall skinny tree

Last Saturday I set out to make an easy tree. Two days later I started spraying on the most difficult tree yet. This all started when I dragged out the sewing machine to make a new spandex sleeve. The two sleeves I have been using were made when my sewing machine was broken and involved about eight hours of hand stitching, which I was anxious to avoid. I measured this and that, aiming for a stretched out value of the spandex. Because the sewing was so easy, I made it very tall, also. The end result is a very tall skinny tree which did not hold the initial layers of wet pulp very well. I spent the first two days trying to get the pulp to stop sliding off the spandex. When I began the tree I hated it. Now I quite like it, although I am grateful that I was able to spray and keep the pulp on after all.

It is always nerve wracking to spray a tree. If you try to spray too much pulp on at once, it gently slides off the surface as you stand there cursing. I never want to be a hysterical prima donna but after investing so much time and energy into getting something right it can be very difficult to just shrug it off. Case in point: one tree was creased badly when someone helping me grabbed and squeezed the trunk while we were trying to take it off its armature. It's the floppiest tree that I have made yet and I don't know why that is, either...Now I am trying to let it go, but every time I walk by that tree I have a small internal freak-out - why, why, why? Helpful to remind myself that these trees are going in the ground to be filled with dirt next winter...


Welcome to GROVE

Welcome all tree huggers, tree planters, woods lovers, art lovers, papermaking devotees, and all manner of curious onlookers!

This blog exists to document the behind the scenes work of my ongoing project, GROVE, in which I attempt to reverse the cycle whereby trees are turned into paper. I started thinking about this project in the spring of 2006. Eighteen months, one digital video workshop, two paper making workshops, one website design class, one PHS treetender training, two compressors, two studios, several thousand dollars, (thanks Maryann and Bill!) and one major surgery later, I am approaching lift-off. I have five more trees to make, several video loops to organize, this website to publish, light-blocking out the gallery, press releases to write and send, invitations, publicity, and organizing the reception. Almost there...

Meanwhile, in addition to the show, there is Part 2 to organize. On the 21st of July, Ann Rhodes, a pre-eminent botanist in Pennsylvania, will visit Carpenter's Woods from 10 am to 12 pm for a walking talk, after which we will determine the site. I am working closely with the Friends of Carpenter's Woods and the senior staff at Fairmount Park, who have given me permission to proceed. Yesterday the Friends of the Wissahickon expressed their support as well, over a lovely lunch at the Highpoint Cafe. (Okay - it's not all hard work...) After we determine the site, Fairmount Park will issue a permit and we can work with Dave Bower (volunteer coordinator of the Northwest Fairmount Park) to pick a date to plant the trees in early November.

If you are a wealthy philanthropist reading this - please send money! Yesterday the IRS sent us a lovely letter inviting us to discuss whether I can deduct my expenses as an artist, given that I am not making any money. I can now apply for a Leeway transformation grant, given that I have a partner in Friends of Carpenters's Woods, but if anyone has additional grant ideas out there that might apply to this sort of environmental art project, please give a shout out. Thanks!