Haitian Metal Art - Tree of Life

This intricate Tree of Life is made from recycled oil drums in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti by the artist Carlos Brutus. It is 24 inches in diameter. These pieces are representative of the spirituality of Haitian culture.

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The traditional Haitian method of creating metal sculptures from discarded oil drums has changed very little since the technique was first developed by Georges Liataud in the 1950's. To begin, the drums are burned out, cleaned up, sanded down and pounded flat. Next, the artist chalks his intended design onto the prepared metal and begins the heavy and tedious work of cutting and detailing, using only a hammer and chisel. Finally, the sculpture is sealed with a weather-proof finish, so that the sculpture may be displayed easily indoors or out.

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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...


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