Tree shaping

Richard Reames's Arborsculpture

A bench shaped by Richard Reames using his Instant Arborsculpture techniques as described in his books
A bench shaped by Richard Reames using his Instant Arborsculpture techniques as described in his books

Axel Erlandson's Circus Tree

The basket tree, was shaped by Axel Erlandson sometime in the late 1940's. He shaped with a Gradual method. Quote from his daughter's book  My father talked to Trees "When the stems of the trees were very young and flexible he shaped them as desire
The basket tree, was shaped by Axel Erlandson sometime in the late 1940s. He shaped with a Gradual method. Quote from his daughter's book My father talked to Trees "When the stems of the trees were very young and flexible he shaped them as desire

Tree shaping

Tree shaping is the art of shaping living trees into art or useful ornaments. There are two methods of tree shaping, with very different results.

  1. Instant tree shaping uses a method based on pleaching, these are described in both of Richard Reames books. How to grow a chair the art of Tree Trunk Topiary and Arborsculpture Solutions for a small planet. Basically you start with trees that are at least 2 - 5 years old or trees 6 – 8 ft. (2–2.5 m) tall, bend and weave the trees together to form the desired shape. Hold the trees in place for a year or 10. Then hopefully when you remove the restraints the tree will stay in place. I'm not too sure how successful Arborsculpture Instant Tree shaping method is as Richard Reames says in his book quote " Designs that use large numbers of trees should always have replacement trees of the same age available for backups in case any tree needs replacing. " Arborsculpture chairs use 12 trees. Richard Reames says that you can bend up a chair in an afternoon.
  2. Gradual tree shaping uses the methods of Pooktre or Grown UpFurniture. http://www.grown-furniture.co.uk/how-to-grow.html. Basically you create a design and the supporting frame work to grow the tree or trees into shape rather than bending living trees. Start with seedlings or saplings approximately 3 –12 in. (7 – 30 cm) long. This method is a day to day or weekly training of the new growth. Pooktre uses this method because the growth of the tree remains strong, with even and balanced growth as nothing is forced. Small designs can be grow into shape in one growing season, Bigger designs like Axel Erlandson's basket tree may have taken 3 - 4 years to grow the design shape. The tree's annual growth then continues thicken the design over time.

Tree shapers

There are approximately 18 to 20 Tree shapers in the world who do some form of shaping trees. I am sure there are some hiding in the hills happy shaping their trees.


Ballerina by Pooktre

Ballerina by Pooktre. This girl started out as two tiny shoots less than 20cm high, she was guided though-out her growth to her adult life size. This photo was taken in May 2009.
Ballerina by Pooktre. This girl started out as two tiny shoots less than 20cm high, she was guided though-out her growth to her adult life size. This photo was taken in May 2009.

Comments 2 comments

solar.power profile image

solar.power 6 years ago from Brisbane

Ive actually seen some architects manipulate the living environment to create spaces for habitation. Great hub!


treelover123 4 years ago

we do tree shaping at www.jcstreeservice.com, but not this kind. If someone wanted this kind of work done, do you have a list of contractors or experts? Also, I'd love to see a list of species/life cycle after shaping vs. normal, and any adverse effects. Thanks!

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