Some years ago I had the idea to manufacture a tree in real size.
In October 2007 I went to Oberhof CH to see a friend who often helps me on construction sites. I asked him for a plum tree about 3m tall with a diameter of 3.5m. Of course he asked what for. So I explained him that I intended to wrap it completely with copper. He only laughed, went for the chain saw, cut down a tree and deposited it in front of my workshop. The next day I cut the tree back and treated it with steam. A month later I had the trunk and the thickest branches wrapped with copper and had molded the bark structure by hammer.
My 8 year old grandson Marcel enjoys assisting me with wrapping the tree. Besides he learns how to solder.
The bark structure and cavities are continuously shaped by hammer. The progress is slow.
The branches are formed true to nature.
The leaves are treated with a chemical mixture (no color) to give them a green appearance bevor the branches are attached to the tree trunk.
Meanwhile I have crafted an eagle out of copper with a wing span of 87cm.
As the eagle is the crowning completion of he artwork I have gilded it with 23.75 carat powder gold.
The eagle is now gilded and treated with Achat in order to obtain the full brilliancy.
The connection for the claws to the tree is fabricated and the golden eagle is attached for the first time.
The eagle is removed again. A pedestal made from a 2cm thick steel plate is attached to the tree to give it stability.
It is now June 2008 and I have worked 3/4 of a year on this project (during my spare time, on Saturdays, Sundays, in the evenings and on rainy days.)
The tree is beginning to take shap. It has already more than 3,500 leaves and needs to be taken out of my workshop otherwise it won't fit through the door.
The tree is lifted by crane to the new terrasse. The very next day it receives another four branches.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank my 3 helpers who have assisted me during several weeks with forming the leaves and soldering them to the branches. They are my grandson "Marcel Barlei ", a participant of my art embossing course " Ralf Müller " from Mügeln D with Ulrike from Wittenberg D and his dog Jack who always laid under the table during the course.
Of course not only leaves were made instead butterflies were in high demand, too.
Meanwhile it's the end of June and the tree has received additional 12 branches as can be observed in the picture taken from the roof of my house.
With other words the tree has currently about 4,500 leaves. I will be working hard during the coming weeks to attach all the missing but prepared leaves. Only then it can be estimated how much it still will take to complete the tree.
Today, 2nd July 2008, I have attached the last prepared leaves to the remaining five branches. The tree now has about 5,200 green coloured leaves.
I will be making an additional 1,000 leaves which will be scattered over about 10 branches.
16th July 2008, meanwhile I have cut 500 new leaves. Today I have trial mounted the golden eagle on top of the tree to get a first impression of the overall presenation.
" The Eagle with the Tree looks great "
I estimate the final work to completion to be aprox. 2 months.
15th August 2008, the tree now has about 5,700 leaves and I believe it still could take some more. Therefore I will cut some additional 700 copper plates and form them into leaves.
If you look from above or below you can see the thickness of leaves but when you stand beside the tree you have the impression that something is missing.
Meanwhile it is the end of November and the first snow has been laying on
the tree for some days.
Now I have to wait until the snow has melted before I can mount another 5
branches previously prepared.
I have already designed a new eagle with a span of 1.45 meter.
During the last 2 courses of art enchasing I had some time besides to work
on the show piece. You can see that it is getting close to completion. The
wings and the body will have to be chased, whereas the wings will be filled
with about 100 - 110 Kg of lead to highlight the shape.
The feet are made and the leg parts hard solded. Then the body and the
upper wings are mounted together. The creature is getting heavier but more
The eagle is taking slowly its shape and the size of the chased bird can be
appreciated. On Saturday, January 17, 2009 the eagle is ready to be gilded.
I will try to apply the priming for the gilding on Sunday. That is a huge
effort as the eagle's surface exceeds 1m2. I only hope that the 23.75 carat
powder gold (35 grams) is enough to cover the entire surface.
First the adhere metal and primer material is laid on, then the yellow
primer is painted on. After drying I will apply the adhere lacquer and the
powder gold. Unfortunately the gold was not enough and I had to apply
another 20 grams.
The only thing left is to attach the eagle to the tree. Holes are drilled
through the legs and thread bolts inserted for mounting.