Natural Art: Transforming Trees After a Hurricane

Hurricane

Natural Art: Transforming Trees After a Hurricane

This past autumn, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria devastated Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and many Caribbean islands. The strength and frequency of these disasters is a clear testament to our changing climate, and our need to care for the environment. Most people see the destruction left in the path of a hurricane as no more than debris. But one man is putting a positive artistic spin on the devastation.

After a hurricane hits, the streets are usually riddled with fallen trees. Authorities usually attempt to haul away and discard those trees as quickly as possible. But Austin Weeks of St. Augustine Beach, Florida thinks they are “too beautiful to throw out.” He travels to neighbors’ homes to clear away trees that they would otherwise have to pay contractors to remove from their property. Weeks, who taught himself everything he knows about carpentry, uses those fallen trees to create works of art.

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Weeks’ Works of Art

After cutting the timber himself, he hoists it away to his workshop, where it dries out. After heating the wood in a kiln, Weeks carves beautiful and useful pieces of furniture, from lamps to barn doors to dinner tables. Depending on the style he is aiming for, he might sand it down, or polish it for a more finished look. Each of course is as unique as the individual tree from which it came. Week’s company, Old Town Timber, uses only 100% recycled wood to create “functional artwork designed to last a lifetime.”

Sometimes, after a tree falls on someone’s property, they hire Weeks to create custom artwork from that same tree. Weeks feels great pride being able to deliver something beautiful out of the devastation of a hurricane. He explains, “People were affected so deeply by the hurricane…to have a piece that’s beautiful from that in your house that you can see and appreciate…it definitely meant more to me, and you can see it in their faces.”

Other Restoration Options

While we all may not have Weeks’ skills to create such outstanding pieces of art, we still have other options to restore trees that have fallen after a hurricane. Replanting trees is a viable option. Trees that lose many of their branches do not always die. In fact, trees can lose 75% of their small canopy branches and still recover. If salt water floods a tree, it will likely lose its branches, but irrigating with fresh water and help revive it and remove the salt. With the help of an arborist and a guide on how to replant, we can save many fallen trees. While we cannot save every tree that a hurricane destroys, we always have the ability to plant more trees and bring new life into devastated areas.

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