The Art of Tree Building #7

In ROOTLESS, Banyan builds trees out of scrap metal, creating beautiful forests for people who crave some semblance of nature in a future where no nature survives. But throughout human history, there have been many different types of “tree builders”. This blog series will introduce you to some of them…

… PASSING IT ON …

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Been up to some real-life tree building this summer (along with working on new manuscripts!) so I thought I’d share a little about the adventure here. There will be lots of pics. Lots of sparks and steel and lots of me not staring at a computer screen and thinking about stories – though that did also happen a lot this summer. When I wasn’t doing this:

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But perhaps I should back up a little, because this isn’t the first tree building I’ve been involved with since ROOTLESS came out. And this here bloggy-blog post seems like a good time to give a big shout out to the great teachers and students at Denver Academy, who first taught me what it takes to forge a forest…

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Denver Academy is lucky to have both an awesome art/welding teacher, Beverly Ball, and a fantastic school librarian, Jolene Gutiérrez. And I was lucky enough to work with both of them. Here’s Bev and I, plotting… Teachers are great to plot with, I’ve found.1397389_10151635411026577_835277791_o

Now, this young guy, John, is a student at Denver Academy, but he’s also a brilliant teacher. Here he is showing me how they’d been forging leaves for the tree they were building. I can’t wait to see the finished thing!

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Sam (on my left) and John (on my right) were such a great couple of guys to work with. Here we are with my first finished “leaf”. It was an awesome moment.

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And, seeing as I’m covering lots of ground in this here blog post (I don’t blog often, but when I do….watch out!), I’d like to also give a shout-out to Trinity Prep in Winter Park, FL. They had me head out there to be involved in building a tree for their school library. Big thanks to Georgia Parker (and her husband!) as well as all the awesome students and faculty who made my visit so rewarding. Below is my favorite pic I took while working on the tree… it shows only a fraction of the recycled-bottles leaves that the students made. There were hundreds of them. And the leaves look like spring, summer and fall to me, all at the same time. With nature (and art) I love to pay attention to the details, not just the “big picture”, and this picture reminds me of that…

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Other schools have also been tree building, and I have LOVED seeing what people have been inspired to build, such as this work by 8th graders at Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco. Big thanks to the boys, and their teacher, Jessie Jackson, for sharing their art with me…

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I’ve also received some very beautiful pieces of tree art from ROOTLESS readers. This one, by Jennifer Redstreake, is now hanging in my living room. Check out more of her amazing art at http://redstreake.com.

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Meanwhile, this hangs in my Creation Station… (where I write)…

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And the one below’s in my garden… Thanks Nick Kapke!

sculptureAnd so back to my work this summer… For a few glorious months I was part of the crew creating the Tree of (im)Permanence, an almost thirty-foot tall, fully-interactive art installation. I’m super grateful to my good mate Nick Geurts (or “Yeti”, as we call him) who knocked on my door back in March and asked if I’d like to help him build a giant musical “tree”. Here’s how Nick described his vision before we got started:

“The “Tree of (Im)Permanence” is a tree-shaped set of playable tubular bell chimes. The chimes are played by pressing the keys of a toy piano at the trunk of the tree. At night when each bell chime is played it also lights up. The piece represents our physical and spiritual connection to the objects around us. The experience of the bell chimes is a union between the measurable physical processes involving the fundamental vibrational properties of the metal and air and the subjective interpretation of these vibrations by our physical and spiritual selves. This is meant to be not only an auditory experience but a journey of self-discovery.”

And (as you can see from the pictures below) that’s what we built! I learned how to plasma-cut and weld. I drilled holes in steel, bent steel, sanded steel, polished steel… I helped tune giant bell chimes, and contributed an old MIDI keyboard to help build the “brains” of the musical components. I learned about LEDs and solenoids, got covered in epoxy, got to ride a split lift through the desert, managed not to break any bones or kill anyone while wielding powerful tools and scrambling about at great heights, and ultimately I got to watch people “playing” the tree at sunset, and then again under the stars, “listening as the wind blew tunes through the branches, watching as the breeze shook rhythm from the leaves.” And, yes, that was a self-quote. I helped build a giant steel tree, and if you can’t self-quote on your blog once every ten years or so then this whole blog thing is even more of a mystery to me today than it was yesterday! Oh, yes… but there was more… working on this art project, I made wonderful new friends. Which is really the best thing you can say about anything. The whole thing was epic. As in… EPIC. And I’m really proud that I was part of Yeti’s team. Following are some photographic highlights of my friends and I working on the tree…

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IMG_3601IMG_3532IMG_7474IMG_7477IMG_747610626657_339287832905626_2204512258906846884_nIMG_7556IMG_75371233514_339281642906245_7847067085250048633_nIMG_7507Till next time, BURN BRIGHT THE DARK…

 

THE RIFT (Rootless 2) now in paperback. E-book on sale for $0.99

THE RIFT is now out in paperback, via your local indie sellerBarnes & Noble, or Amazon. Also – the e-book is on sale for just $0.99 if you grab it today!

THE RIFT (Rootless #2)“There’s a brilliant madness to this deadly post-apocalyptic world, filled with complex characters, shifting loyalties, and layers of mystery… a nonstop adventure” – Publishers Weekly, starred review of ROOTLESS 

Banyan was once a tree builder, creating scrap-metal forests for rich clients in a barren burned-out world. Now he’s traded his scaffolds for lookouts, his tools for guns. On a stolen boat, surrounded by a mutinous crew, Banyan has escaped from Promise Island with the last living trees on earth, and he’s desperate to smuggle them to safety. 

But powerful enemies are in pursuit, seeking to claim the trees for themselves. To reach a safe haven, Banyan will need the help of the pirate girl he loves, Alpha, his broken friend, Crow, and his troubled sister, Zee. Only together can they cross the mysterious molten wasteland of THE RIFT. And when Banyan discovers a new threat to Alpha’s life, he fears he’ll lose not only the trees they sacrificed so much to find, but the girl who inspires him and gives him hope. 

Howard’s “gift for the phantasmagoric” (Kirkus) is on full display in this thrilling second book of the ROOTLESS trilogy.

THE RIFT (Rootless, Book Two) … out ARBOR DAY (April 25, 2014)

THE RIFT (Rootless #2) “There’s a brilliant madness to this deadly post-apocalyptic world, filled with complex characters, shifting loyalties, and layers of mystery… a nonstop adventure” – Publishers Weekly, starred review of Rootless

Banyan was once a tree builder, creating scrap-metal forests for rich clients in a barren burned-out world. Now he’s traded his scaffolds for lookouts, his tools for guns. On a stolen boat, surrounded by a mutinous crew, Banyan has escaped from Promise Island with the last living trees on earth, and he’s desperate to smuggle them to safety.

But powerful enemies are in pursuit, seeking to claim the trees for themselves. To reach a safe haven, Banyan will need the help of the pirate girl he loves, Alpha, his broken friend, Crow, and his troubled sister, Zee. Only together can they cross the mysterious molten wasteland of THE RIFT. And when Banyan discovers a new threat to Alpha’s life, he fears he’ll lose not only the trees they sacrificed so much to find, but the girl who inspires him and gives him hope.

Howard’s “gift for the phantasmagoric” (Kirkus) is on full display in this thrilling second book of the Rootless trilogy.