Criss-crossing the world with stops on almost every continent, San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon spent the last 14 years seeking out some of the largest, rarest, and oldest trees on Earth to capture with her camera. Moon develops her exhibition prints with a platinum/palladium process, an extremely labor-intensive and rare practice resulting in prints with tremendous tonal range that are durable enough to rival the longitivity of her subjects, potentially lasting thousands of years. Moon’s collected work of 60 duotone prints were recently published in a new book titled Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time. From Abbeville Press:
This handsome volume presents sixty of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.
As the story goes, Ernest “Mooney” Warther was a boy growing up in Ohio when he encountered a man who taught him how to carve a pair of working pliers from a single piece of wood—using just 10 cuts. Whether it was that single epiphany, or the machinations of his incredibly inquisitive mind, Warther would quickly become one of this most notable wood carvers in America.
Warther’s most significant carving before he changed his focus almost exclusively to locomotives, was a tree created from 511 interconnected pliers using the same technique he learned as a child. The piece required some 31,000 cuts and each branch can fully articulate like a functional pair of pliers all the way down to the base of the trunk. Watch the video above to see Warther’s son David demonstrating the technique (seriously, it’s almost miraculous at the end, well worth a quick watch).
If you want to see more of Warther’s work, there’s an entire museum in Ohio where you can also view is wife Frieda’s meticulously organized collection of 100,000 buttons. (via Atlas Obscura)
Update: An earlier version of this post stated the person in the video above is Ernest, when in fact it’s his son, David. (thnx, Natalia!)
Photographer Jan Bainar was hiking through the Beskydy Mountains last week, a range that forms the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, when he stumbled onto something spectacular. Low temperatures, high winds, and a bit of precipitation caused frost to form on one side of the tree trunks through the entire forest. Any meteorologists want to chime in on this? Is this the same thing as hoar frost or frost flowers? Something different? You can see more of Bainar’s landscape photography over on 500px. Photo courtesy the photographer.
Using nothing but wire, sculptor Clive Madison creates tangled trees that grow from wooden bases into dense clusters of leaves and branches. Each piece is made by hand without glue or solder, using single strands of wire that start at the base and terminate at the top. You can see many more pieces on his website, and several are available through Lee Champman Gallery. (via Ghost in the Machine)
UK sculptor Tom Hare works primarily with willow branches to create large organic sculptures that borrow from the same techiques used in basket making. One of his most recent commissions was a giant egg-like treehouse installed in a cherry tree at a private residence. Lit from the inside, the complexity of the structure is highlighted against the sky, making it look a bit more like a spaceship than a treehouse. You can see more of Hare’s work on his Tumblr. Photos by Daniel Castledine. (via My Modern Met)
The Whirling Dervish was a willow sculpture by artist Trevor Leat that was installed in 2012 at Shambellie House, in New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Leat is known for his work with willow trees which he grows organically for use in furniture, baskets, and sculptures. Unfortunately, Shambellie House, which housed the National Museum of Costume, closed in 2013, so this piece may no longer be viewable. (via Colossal Submissions)
Nestled in Northeast India next to the Brahmaputra River sits Majuli Island, a giant sandbar that happens to be the largest river island on Earth, home to some 150,000 people. It is also the location of the 1,360 acre Molai Forest, one of the most unusual woodlands in the world for the incredible fact that it was planted by a single man. Since 1979, forestry worker Jadav Payeng has dedicated his life to planting trees on the island, creating a forest that has surpassed the scale of New York’s Central Park.
While home to such a large population, rapidly increasing erosion over the last 100 years has reduced the land mass of Majuli Island to less than half. Spurred by the dire situation, Payeng transformed himself into a modern day Johnny Appleseed and singlehandedly planted thousands upon thousands of plants, including 300 hectares of bamboo.
Payeng’s work has been credited with significantly fortifying the island, while providing a habitat for several endangered animals which have returned to the area; a herd of nearly 100 elephants (which has now given birth to an additional ten), Bengal tigers, and a species of vulture that hasn’t been seen on the island in over 40 years. Gives you more than a little hope for the world, doesn’t it?
Filmmaker William Douglas McMaster recently wrote and directed this beautiful documentary short titled Forest Man from the perspective of Payeng’s friend, photographer Jitu Kalita. The project was funded in part last year through Kickstarter. The video is a bit longer than what we usually see here on Colossal, but completely worth your time. (via Gizmodo)