GardenDrumMiddle Fork Hemlock tree sculpture

Middle Fork interior This is one of the most extraordinary and beautiful sculptures you’ll see – a whole tree recreated full size using thousands of tiny wood pieces. And no, they didn’t use 3D printing, they used a plaster cast. Of a tree.

What makes the sculpture by John Grade of Seattle so wonderful is that with the sculpture suspended at eye-height, you can see the tree reversed as well, with the imprint of the tree’s shape on the inside. Stretching 13.7 metres (45 feet) long by 6 metres (20 feet) wide, the pattern was created by taking a plaster cast of an ordinary 140 year-old hemlock tree growing near the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River in the Cascade Foothills in Washington State. The casting process took one whole year.

Middle Fork exteriorThousands of tiny 6mm (¼ inch) thick pieces of milled, reclaimed cedar were individually shaped by volunteers at MadArt Space to fit the precise dimensions of the cast, glued together into a lattice, and then sanded back so the tree’s sinuous, undulating form is revealed.

After the sculpture has finished its November 2015 to May 8, 2016 display period in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art’s Renwick Gallery in Washington DC, it will be returned to the forest and left to decay naturally, which will be documented by time lapse photography.

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Middle Fork sculpture from John Grade on Vimeo.

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