Magazine article American Forests

Steely Nature: Using Iron-Willed Concentration, a Washington, DC, Sculptor Immortalizes Local Trees with National Acclaim. (Earth Keepers)

Magazine article American Forests

Steely Nature: Using Iron-Willed Concentration, a Washington, DC, Sculptor Immortalizes Local Trees with National Acclaim. (Earth Keepers)

Article excerpt

Even after being felled by weather, disease, or old age, our nation's famous and historic trees live on in the minds of many Americans. Ira Bloom wants to make sure those memories live on forever. Since discovering AMERICAN FORESTS' Historic Tree Nursery eight years ago, the Washington, DC, sculptor has been turning steel into beautiful models of some of America's most important trees.

Working from his studio in a dilapidated former car repair shop in downtown Washington, Bloom has made models of more than 25 trees, including the Maryland Liberty Tree and what was known as the Lincoln Copper Beech in Washington. The real estate investor combines technical skill with a love for the trees that are his subjects.

"Historic trees give us a link to the past," he says. "They put a face on history." A much-used treehouse and the tree-lined adventures of Tarzan and Robin Hood made Bloom realize early on that "trees were my thing."

That enthusiasm resurfaced 20 years ago, when Bloom, who had done woodcarving and made wire figures, started focusing on trees as his subjects. He experimented with a few early projects, including his 1982 piece "Tree Songs," which used pipe segments to portray the wind singing through a tree.

Bloom's current fascination with making exact replicas of trees was jump-started when he discovered a copy of AMERCAN FORESTS' 1964 book Knowing Your Trees in the organization's Washington headquarters. He repeatedly photocopied pages from the out-of-print book before finding a used copy in a bookstore. When he read about famous and historic trees in American Forests magazine, he knew he wanted to sculpt them.

The sculpting process, which takes about 60 hours for each tree, is involved and tedious. First Bloom chooses a tree and photographs it from different angles, usually ending up with 40 or 50 different views. …

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