Wednesday, December 3, 2008

UnEarthed Benefit

We partnered with Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest to put together this wonderful event exhibiting amazing works from local artists around the city and to help “Friends” raise money in support of our urban forest. The event was well attended, raised thousands of dollars for the care and maintenance of our urban forest, and for planting trees in our communities to expand our urban forest canopy.

Urban Tree Forge selected over a dozen artists, that work in a variety of mediums, to assemble an exhibit of works demonstrating the varied and inventive ways we can develop value added products from our urban trees.
We had fabric artists to ceramicists, photographers, and steel fabrication artists, woodworkers, architects and industrial designers. We asked the artists to utilize materials from a single source, felled trees in Allegheny Cemetery and incorporate these materials into their works as they desired. The artists responded with an amazingly creative and diverse range of pieces that really helped to make the event special.

Urban Tree Forge worked with the artists to acquire what materials the artists requested, helping with the slabbing of trees to hauling sections of trees, assisting with the fabrication and realization of the different artist’s visions.
The event came together wonderfully and all the artists involved rose to the occasion, providing us with a diverse and creative environment of beautifully crafted works that were well received. Five of the works sold at the one night fund raising event.
Photographer Joey Kennedy wrote up a nice review on his blog about the Unearthed event with some great images as did Katie Smerick on her Holy Vataha blog Thank you both for your tremendous support!!

The fundraising event was only a one night event though, and we are presently seeking additional venues for the exhibition to continue. If you have information on additional venues or opportunities for this exhibition please let us know.

Promoting and advocating the utilization of our urban forest while working to expand our urban canopy replacing the forest we displace is not only a noble endeavor, it is necessary to our continued existence. Being self-reliant as a community using local trees for our resources is not just sustainable… it provides an opportunity for a negative carbon footprint and supports our local economy

My heartfelt Thanks to all the artists who participated in this event as well as the wonderful people who attended making this event such a great success for our community and Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Art theft

Art Theft
Sad news this week as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I had three significant works of art stolen as I delivered them to family in Millcreek, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. I had just driven the works out to family from Pittsburgh, PA with my brother-in-law Doug Belnap... (Thanks Doug!) completing the cross-country trip in just 27 hours, arriving at the home of Steve and Maura Cantwell late Thanksgiving eve. I left the pieces in the vehicle overnight with the intention of unloading first thing in the morning. What we awoke to was a morning of loss and grief as we realized the car had been ransacked of all personal items. Our loss included two end tables/nightstands created exclusively for Maura and Steve Cantwell as well as a sculpture titled "Touched" for the family of my brother, Eric Metzler, who died two years ago.

The loss of "Touched" was the most devastating of the day. After hundreds of hours of work,I was bringing this to our family gathering so that my brothers and sisters could contribute and impart a little of each of themselves to this gift for Eric's family. "Touched" was carved from a section of a birch tree recovered from one of my brothers last jobs as Metz Tree Service before his passing two years ago November 1st. Eric was lost to us when the tree he was climbing fell with him tied into the tree's crown. I helped his sons Josh and Justin clean up some of his open jobs. We were able to complete and recover the birch section from one of these projects. The base of the sculpture starts in six sections representing each of the members of his family and diverges to represent how our actions touch other lives in ways we could never comprehend.

The other two casualties in this ordeal are a pair of original night stand end tables I made for my sister and her husband (Maura and Steve Cantwell). The stands are made from oak and sycamore from Pttsburgh, our hometown. The sycamore is from the Point Park University, where my sister attended, studying dance and theater. The oak tops are from an urban tree, a local white oak crotch. The remainder of the oak was salvaged from a local steel supplier. These pieces are also incomplete as I needed to be able to pack them flat for transport to be assembled when I arrived. The stands were packed as 4 sides, the top, and the floor, all as separate sections. The doors were not hung and the drawer fronts were also not attached to the drawers.

In addition to the irreplaceable sculpture and original end tables I also lost a camera I received as a gift from my dear friend and love of my life, Randie Snow; my collection of CDs; my sleeping bag; and a hand made quilt that "Touched" was wrapped in. I had just received the camera days before my departure... (a Canon A1000IS) upon which were stored the only pictures of the lost pieces in their latest stages of completion. The images here are all of earlier stages of construction of the works.
Local Salt Lake City television station KSL TV was gracious enough to report on our loss and inform viewers of the works in hopes that someone would return them. We give our thanks and gratitude to Sandra Yi for her time and efforts to aid in the recovery of these pieces.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friends.... and Friends friends

I was talking with a friend last week, who asked me what I had been up to lately, sooo... I told her about the wonderful opportunity I had received to convert some urban trees into flooring for Friends of the Urban Forest. I told her about their Floor Raiser Drive, which has been established to help them raise the necessary funds needed to install the floor... "Friends" is a great asset to our region, not only are they dedicated to restoring and protecting the urban forest, but they're also inspiring and engaging citizens to maintain, plant and protect trees with their Tree Tender program!!

I then began telling her about Tree Vitalize, and the tree stakes that I was making with Rich Haviland the sawyer... when she interrupted me with a

"nooooooo... What have you been working on...?"

Ohhh, I nodded... "working on"...

So, I started telling her all about a new initiative that I was exploring with Wilkinsburg Borough to help them establish their own municipal tree utilization program...

I mentioned that I was working on possibilities for Allegheny Commons on their restoration project, which includes the removal of over 30 ailing trees, along with a ground breaking for the new Carnegie Library, all in the same neighborhood... and, how we're developing plans to promote awareness and unification between the north side and the local design firms, so that they can see how using their own local resources can be beneficial for the environment and the community...

And, lastly, I started talking about the Cemetery Gates project... how we've been able to gather 10–15 artists together to do a show... and how each artist will be incorporating pieces of wood from the Allegheny Cemetery to demonstrate the range of creative possibilities for using the urban forest materials... I told her that we just received a very nice write up about it in the newest Tech Vibe newsletter...

My friend interrupted, again with "Noooo.... not that... what have you been making, working on, creating... Haven't you been creating anything?"

She continued, "Not that I don't care, but I don't want to know about that other stuff... I want to know about YOU... you know... what are you sculpting?"

Well, I began... the Cemetery Gates project is a sculpture show as well as a part of a fund raising event for Friends of the Urban Forest, so I will also be contributing a sculpture of my own...
I have a table that I'm creating from an arborvitae that I found on Penn Avenue, while looking at properties; Then there's Moon Willow Point... a sculpture and bed, which is currently in the drying stage; there's Touched... a sculpture for my brother's family that will be done any day now; and Trinity... a dogwood from Trinity Cathedral; there's some Ohio river drift wood; and finally, Mr. Appleseed... an apple tree that fell in the Regent Square neighborhood.

After my lengthy story, she said, "Well then, you haven't forgotten to keep creating... that's so wonderful!"

I replied, "We are trying to "create" awareness about the amazing diversity of products that we can create from our urban forest ... I have new trees and materials available all the time... maple, elm, oaks, cedars, and sycamore... all of them crying out to have a future other than a dump site or fireplace. Wouldn't you like a piece of furniture, or perhaps a sculpture, for your home or office?

She smiled, and then said, "Show me some possibilities..."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Urban Trees become .... Urban Trees

The Spruce is Loose
No More!!

Now playing a supporting role in the epic "Urban Forest of Pittsburgh", the "Spruces of Moon"!
The spruces will be playing the role of "Stakes" this fall In a production being collaborated by the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania DCNR, Tree Vitalize and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. "Stakes" role will be supporting 750 new young trees all hoping themselves to play a role in the next generation of the "Urban Forest of Pittsburgh"

Please help our trees become a part of Pittsburgh by making them a part of your next project...

Know Trees... know Life
No Trees ... No Life

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sustainable opportunities

A Norway Visit

We made a short journey this weekend to meet with John and Barb D. in Natrona Heights to look at a couple trees that have to be removed from their yard. In the family for 3 generations, the required removals has the family saddened for their pending loss. The Urban Tree Forge would be honored to reclaim this beautiful older Norway maple for the gorgeous "City Wood" within for a piece of furniture. This wonderful "Cambridge Norway" has some tremendous character which will provide one of a kind slabs with amazingly unique lines. Certain to be a centerpiece in any home or office.
They also have a tall cedar in the back, the sister to which recently received a critical lightning strike bringing about it's early demise. There aren't too many cedars in our urban forest. This tall slender "Natrona cedar" has a number of possibilities for lumber, shelving, or millwork for any room you would like to have stand out from the crowd. Please consider these trees as possibilities for your next project or in your home.

While I was visiting with John and his family, I had the opportunity to take in the gloriously majestic elm lined Carlisle street in Natrona. This street is a cathedral of one hundred year old elms that invoke a humbling sense of spiritual grace. I highly recommend anyone traveling through the area take a few minutes to stop and behold the awe inspiring beauty that these trees add to their neighborhood. Congratulations to the forestry folks in Natrona for the wonderful care provided to keep these national treasures alive and healthy.

Behold the Majestically spiritual grace of the American Elms that dwell here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Urban Tree Forge Gives City Trees a Second Life


We've had so much happening in the city the past couple weeks....

For starters we received
a wonderful write up in Pop City Media "Urban Tree Forge Gives City Trees a Second Life" concerning our efforts to utilize our urban trees. Pop City writes about so many relevant local happenings... I'm always amazed at all the things going on in our city I wasn't aware were happening. Thanks to Debra Smit for her consideration, and for providing us a voice in our community.

I received a personal mention by Kurt Shaw , the art critic for The Pittsburgh Tribune Review for my sculpture "Becoming Fish" in his review of the Society of Sculptors show at Elan fine Arts gallery in Sewickley. Our thanks to Joan for hosting the SOS show in her venue. The sculpture "Becoming Fish" will be leaving us and moving to a new home in a residence in The Cork Factory along with a recently completed table from an urban tree and industrial salvage woods. See our earlier post "Greensburg White and Ryerson oak" for more on this table.

The Pittsburgh Technology Council hosted the 15 Minutes Gallery exhibit last month. I received an award for my work "The Giving Tree" and my partner, best friend and designer responsible for this blog's existence, Randie Snow won BEST IN SHOW for her assemblage
sculpture "Flight of the Imagination". Tech Vibe the online newsletter for the council did a nice write up about Randie in their June newsletter's review of the 15 Minutes gallery show.
Randie is such an amazingly creative and talented artist who has been elemental in developing the marketing presence of The Urban Tree Forge, LLc. She's worked tirelessly for us and we couldn't thank her enough.
Should any of you be seeking creative talent for marketing or advertising that will set your company apart from the crowd, You can reach Randie through Giant Ideas Advertising in Pittsburgh.

Also, I took advantage of an opportunity to give a little Saturday as I joined Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest for a tree maintenance and care day in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. The "Friends" have a great Tree Tender course available for people interested in giving to the care of our urban forest. It's a great educational experience worthy of your time and consideration.

Whew!, and there's so much more... stop in soon as we post about some beautiful trees that are going to have to be removed. We sure would like to provide them with an opportunity to live on in our community and our lives.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Walnut week at the Forge

Last week seems to have been walnut week at the Forge as we had two people approach us regarding material they'd like us to find new lives for.
First we had our friend Wayne Blumling of Wayne's Crane Service come to us with an opportunity for a beautiful walnut tree "Noble Walnut" in the Greentree section of town that he would really like us to find a new life for as the owner doesn't want the clean up required for the walnut in their yard any longer. Wayne was instrumental in our acquiring the willow for "Moon Willow Point" and the Moon oak which we hope to be making into flooring for Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest "FPUF" in the next couple weeks. Wayne said he sure would like to see us be able to utilize some of this "Noble Walnut" in a similar fashion as the willow to create a sculptural piece or for furniture in a community nearby. We think it would be awesome to give this wonderful life a new opportunity to be and reveal its splendor and beauty in a creative way.... ..

Our second opportunity came from our friends Vicky and Jerry from Wilson and McCracken in Lawrenceville.
They have a stack of 4-6 walnut slabs 3" to 4" thick and from 16"-19" wide they would like me to find a new home for.
These wonderful slabs have been air drying for twenty years and the color is magnificently rich, well beyond anything any picture could ever show.
Walnut is a wood that is affected by the way it is dried. Unlike kiln drying, air drying allows the heartwood to retain it rich purple hues which make for such wonderful character in a piece of furniture.
Slabs 3" and 4" thick are so hard to come by... having them air dried for so long provides us with such beautiful and stable material.... It would be so exciting to get to create something from these.
Please let us know if you have any projects or considerations for these wonderful opportunities available within our community.
We'll make you a deal:
You find us projects for these, and we will plant trees in our community to replace these and keep our urban forest strong and abundant with vibrant life... preserving their future and ours!!!

Know trees... Know life.
No trees... No life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reclaimed wood available!! Murtland oak and Beech street basswood

Hey folks,
Some new trees have become available to us... Let's give them a new life!!
I had the opportunity to meet with the wonderful homeowners Tom and Bea of Point Breeze who were sad to learn their 70- 80 year old oak in front of their home must be removed because of disease.
This majestic ol' tree would certainly make a beautiful conference table or...... ? At 32" in diameter and 20 feet to the bottom branch there are certainly a tremendous number of options for this beauty to find another life in a project or home in our wonderful city of Pittsburgh. Thank you to Joel Keelen of Keelen Brothers Tree Service for the heads up on this Opportunity.
Give us a call if you have a project you feel this wonderful tree would be suited for.

We were given 6 logs of "Beech street basswood" from the North side neighborhood "The Mexican War Streets" this past week by our good friend Matt Grebner of Magnificent Manufacturing. Thanks Matt!!
This poor Linden was gilded around the root crown and it cut off circulation between the roots and the top of the tree. The tree was uprooted during a recent storm and Matt had the great insight to call us before these became more waste in our landfills.
These sections would be great for carving some unique and interesting sculptural pieces. The section with the roots attached has a variety of rocks and bricks included... this will be just amazing with a little imagination!! Perhaps a carver or turner would have an interest for a project of their own.
We would certainly be honored for the opportunity to create a commission from these cool pieces of our urban forest.
Please let us know if you have a home or project for these wonderful pieces of our wonderful city, or a commission you would be like the Urban Tree Forge to create for you.
Thanks for checking in with us.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Happenings: Think Global Act Local!!

Some of the other happenings in the past month or so keeping us on our toes:
We were fortunate for the opportunity to volunteer with some local organizations like Friends Of the Pittsburgh urban forest planting and pruning trees ; with Tree Vitalize we got to volunteer for the initial planting of trees for the year in the Pittsburgh region. We also had the good fortune to volunteer with the American Institute of Architects on a home remodel with Rebuilding together Pittsburgh, and Tedco Construction . Thanks to all the other volunteers and the companies who so selflessly donated their time and funding for us to have these opportunities to help in our community. Pittsburgh ROCKS!
We also would like to welcome to "Studio" at the Urban Tree Forge; Olof Berner, an industrial designer and Jennifer Bechak a ceramics instructor and artist... Let's Create!!! We still have room for YOU!
Oh Yeah, I have a few sculptures showing around town this month: I have a piece in a Society of Sculptors show in the Elan Gallery in Sewickley and a few pieces in an opening this week @ 15 Minutes Gallery Oh, and I got accepted into the Craftsmens Guild of Pittsburgh... that all...??
Next blog: new sculptures and new materials available!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Greensburg White & Ryerson Oak

Well, I said this past month was a little busy...

Another urban project in progress:

We are fortunate to have a wonderful client who requested a dining table for a move into The Cork Factory apartments.
Downsizing from a beautiful home to apartment living can be a little daunting. We're building a unique table to do our part to ease the transition to the smaller space and help make this a unique and special home for our client.

We started with some beautiful white oak we received from a Greensburg residence tree removal and dried by our good friend Reid Crosby... Nate Lucas turned oak timbers my friend Lee Spell provided us from Ryerson Steel's Carnegie facility refuse into a solid foundation for our Greensburg White oak tops.

We get to help a client, recycle from industrial refuse, utilize
our urban forest natural resources, and we get to create!!
It's a good day to work with urban trees....
Now, let's go plant some trees!!!!!!!!

Please keep an eye on our blog as we will be having more on this great project soon!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Moon River for Moon Willow

Oh My Gosh!!... I've been a month without an update!!!
So sorry to all of you! Well, Things have indeed been very busy and there is much happening. I will update you all in the days to come. For now though, an update on "Moon Willow Point".
We moved the pieces for the bed back to the shop and they were just too heavy to be functional. We slimmed the headboard down, laid out the three rivers for the headboard and started roughing out the rivers the islands, and the point...
We still have issues with weight and the overall size of the posts necessary to support the headboard. We may have to consider an alternative. Perhaps a wall hung headboard, we'll see. This is beginning to take shape as a beautiful work! Very exciting!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The spruce is loose

Just a heads up to everyone, We have a potential to acquire 9 Norway spruce trees 2-3' in diameter an 60 to 80' tall. Anyone with a future project that would have an interest in utilizing these please let us know. We could make some pretty significant decorative timbers from this, wall paneling, flooring,?????????
Lets get creative!
Please help us find a home for this material before it becomes landfill
Thank you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A quick note

Hey everyone,
We came across about 800 or 900 board feet of 4/4 material from Peters Township. We have a mix of oak, cherry, elm, and locust. Now there's an interesting looking floor!!? Anyone have any projects for this please let us know. Just came out of the kiln this week and ready to be used.
As always, first come...

Peakes Peeks

A base for a local sculptor's work is a pleasure and an honor for Urban Tree Forge... as we are asked to help with and collaborate on a piece with Elvira Peake from The Clay Place. We went on a hunt for a selection of possibilities for our wonderful friend then roughed out a couple to choose from. Then it's on to "Baking Day" as we turn up the heat on any critters that may have taken up residency in our piece. Soon we hope to be showing at the Elan Fine Arts Gallery in Sewickley when we show together with more of our friends from the Society of Sculptors.
Keep an eye out for more progress as we develop this further....

Moon Willow moving

Hey everyone, thanks for checking in.

Yesterday we milled and then moved Moon Willow to the Urban Tree Forge for fabrication. Lots of heavy lifting! I can hardly wait to get a forklift for the shop, and our jib crane installed... will make some of this less challenging... I hope.

Check the first picture as we prepare to slab our willow with an Alaska mill... That's a 5 foot bar on the Stihl sitting on the back of the truck. We needed it to be able to span the "Y" of our headboard. Then we decided to test the limits of the truck, not to mention the tolerance of our friend officer "Ed" over in Sewickley as we loaded the headboard onto the truck for delivery to the Urban Tree Forge. Wayne Blumling has been great to work with and ever patient as we utilized his yard for the first stages of this project. Thanks again Wayne!

Tomorrow we'll be on Washington Blvd... laying out the pieces for the bed and commencing with the fun part... making this come together...