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Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Tree Grows in West Philadelphia - part 1

Emilie Ledieu and Bill Capozzoli (Me ;) work on an arts & craft tree sculpture to be erected in West Philadelphia.

The sculpture idea; which loosely represents a tree, came together rather rapidly. When the People's Emergency Center wanted an art piece for the Lancaster Ave. corridor they contacted Emilie and I about building a steel structure with glass mosaic. Having seen another install project that involved Emilie and Capozzoli's craft work which involved glass and metal, they decided that they want to continue that theme in other areas of the neighborhood.

The fence and mosaic project was a lot of fun and we enjoyed working together. The mixture of the two mediums goes together really well. We are very excited about working together again on this project and we are grateful to the PEC for the opportunity to install one of our art pieces into their neighborhood. It is a pleasure working for people that care about their town and work towards constantly improving it.

Emilie and I hope to contribute as much as we can in regards to time and materials to these types of works. It gives us a challenging, artistic outlet and at the same time we hope that it makes install art for urban redevelopment more available to communities that otherwise might not be able to afford it. Emilie and I feel as many do that art and craft is a great way to plant the seeds of positive change.

When James Wright called us from the PEC regarding ideas Emile instantly thought 'tree' which I agreed was a great idea. We put out heads together and came up with the "Tree of Life" design that is taking shape now. We set out to make something that is really cool, in a very short amount of time and with a very limited budget.

Emilie is amazing, to see her work is incredible. She is a human dynamo. When Emilie gets into a project there is no stopping her, and watch out if you stand still in her studio for too long you will find yourself covered in a glass mosaic. Seriously though, she is really into her work and it shows. It is a pleasure to work with someone that has that kind of enthusiasm.

When Emilie and I work together it is like magic. Everything seems to fall into place so well. We get along creatively and seldom disagree. It is like a musical segment in Walt Disney animation. We whistle while we work!

So, we ordered a bunch of steel, green glass and and supplies then got down to it.

Since we were taking this directly to the actual piece without a lengthy concept and design stage we went back and forth with the soap stone for a while.

We settled on circles with a  loose representation of tree limbs.

Next was to move the circles onto the limbs in an attractive arrangement. 

Since this is direct metal sculpture and a partially organic look is desired we just free hand burned our shapes out of the plate using an oxy-acetylene torch. Then wrapped the circles, limbs and trunk in flat bar.

We have to fit and welded up all of the individual parts that will reassemble at the location during the installation.

After the circles were welded  we carried them across the courtyard to Emilie's studio so that she could begin cutting the glass for the mosaic.

 Laying out the design pattern for the glass.

Emilie Ledieu cutting and fitting the glass. 

Pictured here is the tree top as it begins to take shape.

Please check back in for part 2!

Things are moving along with this project and we are hoping to install this project within the next couple of weeks.

We are excited about the install but there is still a lot of work to do before we get there. We are hoping the wind remains on our backs.

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