The Tree of Life as a visual metaphor for relationships and the interconnectedness of all living things. One 19th century theorist described it poetically, writing, "As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous branch out and overtop many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the Great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the Earth and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications." Each unique fair trade metal sculpture is hand- cut from recycled 55- gallon steel drums. To begin the process, both ends of the drum are removed and placed inside of the remaining cylinder, along with scrap paper and dried banana or sugar cane leaves. Next, the contents are set ablaze to burn off any paint or residue and strengthen the metal. When cooled, the drums are sliced down the side and flattened, effectively creating a "steel canvas" of approximately 3' x 6', upon which the design is drawn. Using a hammer, chisel and various other primitive tools, the desired image is cut out and decorative patterns are pounded into the metal. Finally, a weather-proof finish coating is applied, making these fascinating pieces of folk art perfect for displaying indoors or out.
All it takes to hang this metal sculpture is a few nails and a little know-how. Here's the know-how part: Place the first nail within a closed or notched design element and hammer it into the wall. Using a second and even a third nail - if the sculpture is large - to straighten and secure the piece. Then, stand back and admire your work. That's it! Though it is protected with a weather-proof finish, this sculpture will rust over time, if exposed to outdoor weather. To prevent this from happening, grab a can of spray on enamel at the hardware store and go to it. Once a year should be plenty. It's a snap! In the village of Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, the air rings with the sound of metal banging against metal. Workshops line the streets of the village and outside each are stacks of discarded 55-gallon drums awaiting transformation. To begin the process, the tops of the barrels are removed and the open barrel is stuffed with straw and dried banana leaves and then set ablaze. This burns out the residue and old paint and strengthens the metal. After the barrels have cooled, they are slit down the side, pried open, pounded flat and sanded down, giving the artist a smooth flat surface, much like a painter's canvas. The artist chalks his design onto the metal and then, using a hammer and chisel, begins the work of cutting the sculpture and giving it form, detail and dimension. When he is satisfied with his results, he pounds his signature onto the sculpture and seals it with a protective, weather-proof finish.
The Haitian method of creating sculptures originated over 6o years ago and has changed very little in that time. Outside each workshop are stacked 55 gallon drums, waiting to be prepared. Apprentice artists and laborers cut off the tops and bottoms of the drums, fill them with straw and dry banana leaves, and then light them to burn out residues and strengthen the metal. When cooled, the drums are slit down the sides, pried apart, pounded flat with mallets, and vigorously sanded. At this point the artist takes over, chalking his intended design onto the metal. Using a hammer and chisel and other simple tools, the artist undertakes the intricate work of cutting, beading and detailing each piece. When he is finally satisfied with the results, he pounds his signature onto the sculpture and seals it up with a protective finish. This recycled metal sculpture has a protective coating. If your piece is displayed outdoors, however, it will wear off over time. To keep this sculpture looking the same as the day you bought it, take five minutes once a year to apply a clear spray-on enamel coating. It's a snap.It's easy to hang your sculpture with just a few nails. Place the first nail within two design elements that are touching or notched. Then use a second and possibly a third nail, if the sculpture is large, to straighten and secure the piece against the wall. You want the nails to "disappear" into the sculpture - and they will. Like magic...