Monday, May 4, 2015

Cypress Tree House details

Greeting Everyone!

  The Cypress Tree house was created to fit a special place in the client's home. It needed to fit flush against a squared column and be visibly interesting from 3 sides. There were some technical challenges to making this sculpture that arose from the design/drawings that the client liked - which was my fault... I showed an airy design that was not quite possible given the materials I had to work with to make the basic structure. All my branches were too springy and not rigid enough. I made two false starts which had to be scrapped. This delayed the project and yet the client was very generous with their patience. This was the original drawing:

  The client's home was beautifully decorated and already had a lot of wood in evidence. The column was a very dark cherry so I knew the house needed to be lighter/brighter to stand out. Also, the client liked clean lines and simple color schemes so the glitter and silk flowers were out. But the idea of multi-levels was in because their own home was arranged in this way and the idea of a tree house feeling was still very much desired. But how to make it strong?

   I did some research and discovered Cypress knees from the American south were a perfect solution. I located a supplier that collected ethically and he had some really nice shapes. When they arrived I was surprised by how fragrant the wood was, even in it's kiln dried state. It was a pleasure to work with because it carves beautifully and has a very fine grain. I selected a few pieces that looked good together and began piecing the structure together figuring out how all the bits could work as an interesting whole. This is a rough view of those early stages:

  I did a lot of documenting along the way of how I created this house...but I won't go into those details here. I'm also waiting to photograph the house outdoors and also in the studio with the lights on at twilight... there are a lot of lights! I will share those here when they become available. Meanwhile here are some detailed views of the sculpture:

From the left side the front door is visible. The door opens and is flanked by two glass leaf sconce lights with an overhead light as well. Tree shelf fungi were anchored to the Cypress knee to provide a set of stairs up to the front door.

Here we see that the main house sits above a waterfall which empties into a pool below. I had always wanted to make a waterfall and finally, after about a half-dozen experiments, I figured out how to make one frozen in time. The front door is on the left facing the left, the Faeries can then come out and step across another shelf mushroom to ascend the stairway. The stairs are made with two very delicate cedar twigs and Red Pine Bark steps. There are two vines that entwine each rail and the closer vine is actually the wired LED lights...there are several lights going up the stairs to the gazebo.

and here is the gazebo... I wanted to keep it very airy and light. The seat is covered in heathered felt, and the Mulberry paper leaves are hand-coloured. The spirals are made from Birch bark that has naturally curled... you cut thin slices out of the tightly rolled curls, like cutting a jelly sponge log cake to get the pinwheel spirals. Below the gazebo is the picnic rock.

Here we can see a mossy rock that is sheltered by a large Horse-hoof shelf mushroom. There is a decorative Poppy seed finial to give the fungus a bit of a flair at the top. The mossy rock underneath is thus sheltered and cozy for enjoying a nice picnic leaning against the Cypress root and gazing at the waterfall. There are hidden lights along the edge of the mushroom to give a special glow to the nook, and there are lights in the pool and behind the waterfall as well. Just like in a human-sized posh garden!

and finally the view from the far right:

while it is a little difficult to see in this photo, tall, thin slabs of slate back up against the Cypress knees. These give the feeling of the house being built next to a cliff but they also serve the purpose of adding a bit of weight to the base of the sculpture. It was so tall I needed to make sure is was very stable. A bit of weight did the trick. Also not easily visible is the picket which holds one of the two light switches. These need to be available so the batteries can be changed when needed. 

 It has been quite a process from this:

to this:

to this:
Thanks for your time Everyone! I'll let you know when there are more photos of this construction to share.

  There are many other projects in various stages of progress at the moment...some I have fingers crossed for BIG time. We are making plans for the next Faerie House calendar (Yay Amber Lotus!) and perhaps another surprise or two if all goes well. 
  Spring is finally starting up here, though it is very dry at the moment...still the wild flowers are beginning to scent the air and the bees are out and very busy. I need to get out there and get to work myself!

And one other note, as mentioned... we passed the 130,000 page views marker this week-end... thank you Everyone for your continued interest in my work! You readers are just so AWESOME! When one makes a blog (or many other kinds of online content that is publicly available) there is always the option to add advertizing space. You've seen it before, ads flashing on the sidebars or even worse, injected right into the content so you can't tell where an author's writing stops and an ad starts (I particularly hate those) all showing stuff that none of us wants or needs. The Google world wants to use me to get to you. And they would pay me to do it. I chose not to have ads on my blog or on my website because I figure you get blasted enough by such content...and my work is about peace, relaxation and respecting all life as much as is possible. So, for as long as I can hold out, I will keep this an ad-free zone. People say I'm a fool to turn away the  "free" money these ads would bring me, but I feel it is more important to have a space where we can all enjoy the simplicity of art in an ad-free zone.



claude said...

thank you to share

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting to see the whole process! Great job!

Jean said...

Sally, Talk about being a day late & a dollar short - this is very long overdue! Needless to say, I love this tiny abode and I know it will fit beautifully in my home. I can't wait to see it in person. Thank you for your inspirational work. I will treasure this for many years to come and always think of you whenever I feast my eyes on it. So will the faeries. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Wow! Beautiful beyond words!! How much do you charge for something like this??

Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Greetings "Unknown", Thank you so much for your kind comments. Since this house was a private commission, I prefer not to publish the price in this public forum out of respect for the privacy of the client. However, if you drop me an email I can talk more about the project with you in-person. Cheers! - Sally

Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.