Herbie's Auction

I’ve always been fascinated by trees with names, but we’ll talk more about that some other time. Right now I want to focus on one specific tree by the name of “Herbie”. Herbie was a 217 year old elm tree, and held the official title of the biggest elm tree in New England. It towered 110 feet above Yarmouth, Maine. It was about 8 feet in diameter at the widest point. Herbie died from Dutch elm disease. The only reason Herbie lived as long as he did was because of the loving care of Yarmouth’s tree warden, Frank Knight, who cared for the tree for over 50 years. Frank is 102 years old himself. I’m not making this up folks. It’s a great story.

Herbie had to be cut down in February of 2010. That in itself was no simple task. We’re talking about over 40 tons of wood, and about 6,000 board feet of usable lumber.

If you read this blog, you know I believe there is something special about these old trees. You also must know that I believe that the spirit of the tree is, in some way, reincarnated in the beautiful and useful objects that are made from their wood. The good news is that even though Herbie the tree may be gone, he is still alive in his wood. When Herbie came down, Chris Becksvoort, a New Gloucester furniture maker found himself in charge of the wood distribution. He had the great idea of letting artisans and craftsmen use the wood from Herbie to create objects that could be auctioned off. The auction would raise money for the Arbor Fund of Falmouth to plant new trees. He got his idea from the Onetree Project in England where artisans did the same thing with a 170 year old oak tree that was dying and had to be cut down.

Over 80 artisans and artists participated creating over 300 objects for the auction. Objects included benches, tables, carvings, lamps, bowls, vases and an electric guitar. There was even a mobile made from paper from Herbie. The auction was held two weeks ago and netted $25,000 for the arbor fund. Click on the links to see an article on the auction and a video of a news report on the entire story.

This is the guitar made from Herbie wood by Andrew Olsen of AO Guitars.

These turned and carved vases were made by Jacques Veresy.

Reclaiming the wood from any old tree is a great idea but I think that using the wood from an important historical tree is very special. Apparantly The people at Historical Woods of America agree with me. Visit there website and find out more.

Have you ever crafted something out of wood from a special old tree?

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