Coal Fruit Tree

Coal Fruit Tree

This thing may have been one of the most tedious and frustrating pieces of art I have ever made. It is made from short sections of gradually decreasing diameters of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe anywhere from twelve to three inches long. Each length was split lengthwise and an elongated triangle removed. Then I heated these lengths and melted the seams back together which made each piece gradually reduce in diameter. Then I melted these pieces together to eventually come up with this tree shape. The problem was that no glue I found would hold it together because it took a lot of force to pull the seams together and it always ended up breaking the glue a part. I ended up using a soldering iron to sort of stitch them together instead. This created some pretty noxious fumes, so I had to wear a respirator the entire time. Additionally, I kept burning myself while working. The worst part about it is that these melted seams still aren’t very stable and they still break apart at times. At one point, I had almost the entire tree together when it was accidentally knocked over completely breaking it back to its base sections. I then had the mind-numbing job of figuring out how it all went back together. When this happened I was in the Marshall Sculpture Warehouse and there were some freshmen in there who were about to leave. When the tree fell, I started cussing and yelling because I was mad. They apparently were too scared to leave because they had to walk right by me. Looking back, I find that pretty funny.

Coal Fruit Tree (detail)

The other really crappy thing about the tree is that it is one piece and too big to get through doorways or to put in a vehicle to travel. It is also too fragile to travel in a trailer, so it has to be literally broken into pieces every time I want to move it. It takes at least a couple of hours to reassemble it each time this happens. The light bulb fruit was an idea I had after the tree was almost completely assembled, so I also had to break it a part some to string the wiring through the limbs. I am glad I did though because I think it is a much more successful piece for it. The coal at the base was the final piece to the puzzle which finishes off the whole narrative quite nicely. I got the coal from the coal burning powerhouse in Institute, WV as well as from a coal truck driver who works for one of the local coal mines.

As much as I have complained about this piece, I really do love it when it is all assembled and lit in a gallery. It is a very strong piece to look at, but I don’t think I could ever really sell it since it is so fragile and hard to move. It was originally supposed to be a much smaller model for a steal version I was going to make, but turned out to be a work of art on its own. Building this tree helped me to refine my methods for planning the newer one I did called Indus Tree which is also in this portfolio. I plan on making more trees from different materials, so hopefully I will have more to show in the future.