Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sculpture Week • 2014

Success! We again managed to squeeze Sculpture Week into our summer calendar. Sculpture Week is a week during which my husband, David and I put all our other work on hold and devote the entire week to a collaborative outdoor sculpture project. We spend all year collecting ideas and discussing, and then approach the week with a thought and a goal. This year we designed and built 13 totem trees from aluminum flashing......

And we love them! They are simple yet stunning, contemporary yet a natural theme, and inexpensive and easy to create.

So easy that we just kept making them!

The plan is to have groupings of them scattered through our gardens and forest paths and we are still moving them around.

 We loved the individual elements - the curves......

And the materials.

And the photographic possibilities..........

About the process.......

We collect ideas and consider materials for months. We are limited in what we can produce by the tools we have but also by the fact that we want an outdoor sculpture. This piece was inspired by an image that crossed my Pinterest space sometime ago.

It is a small ribbon tree in tablescape size from a Scandinavian website Loppelilla. I loved is simplicity but knew I wanted it large. I saw it in aluminum. We often start the planning by roaming around Home Depot and Lowes looking for material inspiration.  I had seen the rolled aluminum flashing used in roof work and we put the two thoughts together. Along with one of my go-to materials - PVC pipe.

David did some experiments with the possibilities of drilling into the aluminum and discovered that a circle cutter works just fine! He developed a jig for holding the material in place. Meanwhile I created a scale model using paper and a straw (forgot to photograph). I used the disassembled models to get measurements for spacing of holes which we them expanded to fit a 10 ft. actual sculpture.

Below is the first threading of aluminum onto PVC. We learned a few things quickly. 
1. The PVC had been spray painted black, and it got badly damaged by the sliding aluminum. A solution would be needed.
2. The aluminum got droopy if the curves were too long and we would need a solution for that.
3. We loved them.

See the lower droops? We didn't like those.


1. Spray paint: We switched to flat black because we liked it better and we read the can. It said cure time on plastic was much longer - at least 24 hours but best after 5 days. We painted more PVC and waited the 24 hours but then used 4 strips of blue painters tape to protect the PVC as we slid the aluminum into place.

We then peeled the tape off after assembly. The black stayed pristine.

2. We taped some of the droopy limbs to upper ones, liked the shape better, and ordered a supply of specialty stainless steel nuts and bolts to tie the lower branches together.

At certain points during construction the trees were covered with blue spots!

As always, we experimented with alternatives.......

And then went into production.....

Always taking time to celebrate!

And take pictures!

About Sculpture Week:

The first annual "Sculpture Week" occurred in 2009. It was followed by new versions in 2010 and 2011 but in 2012 we were diverted, possibly by a new grand baby. In 2013 we went on a rather extended road trip and missed out on the tradition yet again. We are very pleased to get focused and return to the tradition this year.  Here are a few photos and links to the previous years' creations.

© 2014 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy


  1. You both have the most amazing minds. I would so love the chance to walk through your property and see these amazing sculptures.

  2. Beautiful! I’m late to this party but glad I arrived. Saving this for the future. I think I’ll use aluminum rivets to solve the droop problem. Thanks for sharing!

  3. What was approx total cost for one?

    1. We didn’t keep track - but we made these back in 2014. I expect no similarity in pricing with current building supply pricing.

    2. We didn’t keep track - but we made these back in 2014. I expect no similarity in pricing with current building supply pricing.

    3. Can you tell me what it take to make a ten feet one? I had an all light christmas outdoor tree. But really would like to make one of these instead of the lights. So So beautiful and looking to make one for me in 2022. How did you stop it from dropping? How much of the flashing will I need. And how far apart do i need the holes? Please tell me what you experience and modified. Thank you.....

  4. Do you happen to have measurements between holes?

    1. I just found my sheet (from 2014!!!)
      For a 6' tree - Measure in 10" to center of first hole, then this listing is the distance between holes - 13", 14",15",16",17", 18.5", 20", 21.5", 23",24,5", 26", 27.5", 29", 30.5", 32", 10".