– Gardeners are all creative people, whether we’re just putting
together plant combinations in containers at home, or, whatever it is that we’re doing, but, I want you to meet a metal artist who combines the love of nature with this beautiful sculptural
work that you do. Stephanie Dwyer is known
for her bottle trees and other works of beautiful art. – OK, so I start out,
this is a seven foot tree and the average tree is five feet tall. – OK.
– So this is a little extra work, more material. This is half inch material.
– Uh huh. – And normally I use three eighths. – OK.
– So this is gonna be a heavier, sturdier tree. Sometimes the trunk comes
easy, and sometimes it doesn’t. Which makes each piece
– [Troy] Unique. – [Stephanie] Yes. And sometimes I tweak,
like I can see a little… I’m taking up space is what I’m doing. – Uh huh.
– And so even these bends that will be real open, I can fill those in and
add depth and texture. And each one of these
goes into its own limb. – [Troy] Uh huh.
– [Stephanie] And so the span on this, I usually go, it’s a
lot wider than it is deeper. – [Troy] OK.
– [Stephanie] So if you look down on it, it’s actually
like an oval in shape. – [Troy] All right. Stephanie made many trips
to New Orleans after Katrina listening to the stories of
devastation from survivors, each one unique, yet all having
the common thread of loss. And the image of those coastal trees bent from the storm made
a lasting impression. Out of this experience came
Stephanie’s Katrina Tree. – [Stephanie] And I said,
you know, I just have to do like a dedication piece.
– [Troy] Right. – And all these women shared
all their stories of loss, and people experienced so much uniquely, but as a whole, there were
so many people affected. – [Troy] Right.
– [Stephanie] And so I thought this would be a good… – [Troy] A good way to…
– [Stephanie] A good way to commemorate their growth and change. And so, the trees, the Katrina
Tree has three wind swirls so it’s showing the
movement that’s happening through the tree. And that would be between the limbs. And so I’ve got one at the top, and I’ll actually put a bird. So you’ve got the silhouette of the bird. So that the tree really
has a lotta life to it. When you do art shows you get to talk to people individually. And that’s when I learned
about bottle trees. Old women would come into my booth and tell me their bottle tree stories from when they were a kid.
– Right. – And I was like, this is
really special, this isn’t just straight strands of material
with a bottle on the end of it, this has to have life.
– Right. – And I felt like when I
started doing the trees, I was creating them with so much more life than what I had seen. ‘Cause I don’t like to copy people’s work, but I did have a lot
of people that asked me to do bottle trees.
– [Troy] Of course. – [Stephanie] And it’s just grown. I mean, the whole reason I’m
here in Paris, Tennessee now is because of the bottle trees. Everybody that I’ve met
– [Troy] That’s amazing. What a great story! Great story for you and the tree. – [Stephanie] It just keeps going! – [Troy] Yeah, yeah yeah. – [Stephanie] The tools that
I have, I mean I’ve made everything to accommodate my needs. I’ve got holes here for tighter bends. A half inch right here. I’ve got this cutting table on wheels, so I cut on this with a plasma cutter. Like here’s the leaves before they’re pounded out and shaped. And then, this I use a lot. This is just a process
of going back and forth, going back and forth, doing
slight bends, not too much. And you’re literally shaping
and molding this tree ever so slightly. – [Troy] Branch by branch, and… – [Stephanie] Yeah.
– [Troy] And stem by stem. – [Stephanie] Yep, and like
I said, sometimes it flows and sometimes it doesn’t. See, I can see some flow
happening here at the bottom, I call it flow. But then at the top here it
needs to come back to the tree. So we’re gonna move the metal just slightly to bring it back where we need it. So, and it doesn’t take much. Yep, see, I like that.
– And now it connects here.
– Exactly, so every time, – You’ll weld that point
to hold it together? – And the nice thing about, you see how there’s a lotta movement right here? – Uh huh.
– The more welds you have, the tighter it gets.
– Right, and the more pieces you add, the
more trunks if you will, that you add to it, the more
stable it becomes as you build. – [Stephanie] Yes, as layers, layers. – [Troy] So this is
obviously a standalone piece that can be used either as
maybe a trellis, or a screen of some kind. But really exemplifies what
you do with the bottles. And is kind of a bottle tree, but in a single plane. – I built this for myself
because I was growing cucumbers at my old shop in Jackson Mississippi. And I didn’t want just any trellis. And I incorporated the
bottles because I knew that this would be color in the winter when there’s nothing there.
– [Troy] Right. – [Stephanie] And so I had
this outside for a long time and then I brought it
into the shop for a party and people went nuts. And so I started, and this is pretty raw compared to what I would sell somebody. – [Troy] OK.
– [Stephanie] Like I never use rebar, hardly ever, in any
of my pieces above ground only below ground.
– [Troy] Right. – [Stephanie] And then
they have a lot more swirls and curls, like
vine tendrils reaching out. – [Troy] Stephanie has had
several private and public installations of her art. One she’s especially proud of is at Shangri La Botanical Garden in Texas. So tell me about this, the actual instillation
that you did, the trees. – [Stephanie] Well
originally I said five weeks. It ended up taking eight weeks. A lot of that had to do with the weather. I’m afraid of heights. We had to use a scissor lift. – [Troy] And how tall are they? – [Stephanie] 17 feet.
– [Troy] 17 feet? And there are how many total? – [Stephanie] There’s four.
– [Troy] There are four. – [Stephanie] Uh huh, there are four, and, they’re 17 feet by, I think it was, the largest limb I did was eight feet. – [Troy] Wow.
– [Stephanie] So you’ve got quite a span there. And then the canopy is at nine feet. So you can’t touch it. But when you walk under it and through it, it’s just… – [Troy] You get all this color. – [Stephanie] Oh it’s just magical. And it’s on a little bit of a
curve like the Katrina Tree, it’s not a perfect
structure, it’s not straight. When I was building it,
I originally thought 14 feet, and then as I was there, and I was watching the wildlife around me, and all the birds were
enjoying everything, I was like, “This has gotta be taller.” – Needs to be a little bigger. – [Stephanie] It’s called
Dancing Sisters too. So each tree is connected by one limb. Kinda like when little
girls are holding hands and going in a circle. – [Troy Voiceover] Stephanie
tells me it took her a while to think of herself as an artist. But that fact is clear on
a walk around her place. She has a knack for rethinking old items, giving them new purpose
with a creative flair. – You needed a sink?
– Yes. We had a party here Saturday night and we had Blue Mother
Tupelo performed in the shop, – [Troy] OK.
– [Stephanie] And it was dumping rain, but, we needed a place for people to wash their hands and so, my friend and I put this together one day, and basically, it’s just,
we took apart pallets. This is two pallets stacked on
top of each other back here. And then we reinforced
it with a two by four, and then this old mirror I’ve had laying around the living room, it’s just a perfect addition to it.
– Sure. – [Stephanie] And then
these little components, architectural accents,
came from Old House Depot in Jackson Mississippi. – The other thing that
I noticed you had done, I love those little
seats, or maybe ottomans, that are done out of the tires. – [Stephanie] Yes, yes.
– [Troy] What a fun thing. – [Stephanie] It was fun
but really difficult. I had to have my neighbor
come down and help me sink the bolts in there, and, we drilled through the
tires to hold them together with the bolts, and it just gets heavy. – [Troy] Yeah.
– [Stephanie] Those are my tires, from my truck.
– [Troy] From your truck. (laughing) – [Stephanie] And I wasn’t
about to throw them away, – [Troy] Ya, so, once they’re set, they’re not going anywhere.
– [Stephanie] No. – [Troy] They’re good
and sturdy and stable. So bottle trees, really, is where it all began, nine years ago? – Mm hmm. – And sort of where we’re ending today. And this one here in front of your house is a beautiful example of what you do. – Well this one’s called
Eudora, after Eudora Welty. All the trees that I do are
named after Southern icons. – OK. – So Truman Capote,
that’s my smallest one. Eudora Welty, and then the Katrina Tree after Hurricane Katrina.
– [Troy] Uh huh. Well, I just wanna take this opportunity to say thank you for sharing your talent and your time, and these
beautiful works of art that you do. And, where can people find out more about your pieces.
– Well I encourage people to come here directly. I extend a welcome to anyone who wants to pick their tree up here. Just because I think it’s so beautiful. I mean, I love Paris, I love it. – [Troy] It is beautiful out here. Thank you.
– [Stephanie] Thank you.