Monday, July 12, 2010

A Bottle Bush



While the rest of you take summer as a time to head to the beach, for me the warmer weather and longer days tend to be about dragging my tools out of the garage and into the driveway to coat everything in a layer of saw dust in between handling garden chores like watering, weeding, and pruning.


The friction this sometimes causes in my marriage is mitigated by the fact that I have, at least in past summers, used this time to build, repair or upgrade things around the house. And starting next weekend, I promise, I'll get on to more useful endeavors, but I've had this idea bumping around in my head since I read mention of a "bottle tree" several months ago over on Ms. Debbie's blog A Part Of Our Day. I've never seen a picture of it, but the image it conjured in my mind has stuck with me for months.

I've been making things from tree parts lately, like tree blocks . . .


. . . and last weekend I made an interactive piece of art I called a cookie tree, which is currently getting put through its paces at school.


This weekend I've been working on a bottle bush.


Like the cookie tree, this addition to the orchard is designed to allow people to rearrange the bottles, decorating the bush (although it kind of looks more like a blooming cactus to me) as befits their personal aesthetic. 


As you can see, I've also included some bud vases in this "starter" collection of glass because most of the bottles I found around my house were just brown and green. My idea is to collect bottles of various shapes textures and colors, ultimately having enough of each kind to create all blue or all red bushes, for instance. Or to provide combinations of cool, warm, or contrasting colors. I'm expecting that this piece will get more beautiful as time goes on and my collection grows.



It casts an interesting shadow.

I've been hanging on to this chunk of concrete from a post
hole for a long time. I like the contrast with the natural wood.

What excites me the most is the perspective from down low -- a child's eye view. That's when the shapes and colors really come alive. It's a piece of art, I think, that adults unwilling to get down on their hands and knees may never fully appreciate.


I can't wait to get this into the school for testing. Yes, I know what some people are thinking: glass bottles and toddlers? I'm sorry, but plastic just won't cut it. There's nothing like glass for reflecting and refracting light. Our children's world is full of glass, especially of the bottle and jar variety. If a bottle breaks, as I'm sure one ultimately will, we'll stop what we're doing, sweep it up, a get back to playing.



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11 comments:

Scott said...

I do like your creativity and your desire to bring these aesthetic experiences to the kids. (And I swallowed any thoughts about toddlers and glass. You're right; their world is full of glass and learning to handle it appropriately is an important life skill.)

Jason, as himself said...

I want to get inside that mind of yours.

Ms. Jessi said...

Gorgeous work of art, Tom! And, I feel for your wife...my husband is doing everything BUT fixing top priorities around the house. :)

jenny said...

I have this image of you Tom in later years - a mad old dude who practically lives in his shed with his tools and his creations!

Loving the bottle tree (we have a native plant in Australia called the bottle brush) - especially those gorgeous blue bottles.

CHILDHOOD MAGIC said...

Eccentric and wonderful! You remind me of a character from a Tom Robbins book (that's a good thing!)

S. Krajicek said...

This reminds me of the blown glass exhibit at the Indianapolis Children's Museum. My kids love it -- it's spectacular and they get to make their own with plastic glass.
http://www.examiner.com/x-27266-Indianapolis-Family-Entertainment-Examiner~y2010m1d23-Glass-sculpture-at-The-Childrens-Museum-of-Indianapolis-by-Dale-Chihuly

SquiggleMum said...

Hehehe Tom - here in Australia we have a common native plant called a bottlebrush!

Juliet Robertson said...

I'd like to add glass pebbles into the effect for children to play with too. I had a lot of fun as a child playing with glass jars filled with different amount of water to create a musical instrument. Put these items at the bottom of the bottle bush and oh wow! What a play centre.

Sherry and Donna said...

Hey Mr. Smarty Pants that's pretty darn cool!
Donna :) :)

Kat said...

My daughter found a box of old vases in the woods . . .
now I know what to do with them :)

Wocket said...

I know you expressed concern for broken glass bottles on a later post to do with this bottle brush tree and it got me thinking, plastic bottles come in all sorts of wonderful colours these days. while it won't have quite the same aesthetic at least the bottles won't readily shatter into a million sharp shards.

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