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Seattle artist John Grade is using a previous installation sculpture (pictured here) as his model to construct trees out of Tyvek (a material more commonly used to “wrap” houses for insulation), plywood, and string.
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Artist John Grade.
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The trees are constructed from hundreds of individually cut, scored, folded, and glued strips of Tyvek, according to a complicated plan OBT calls the “DNA.” Each strip has a different configuration of small holes and tabs that determine where it should go in the giant origami craft project that becomes an individual tree.
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Grade working with OBT Board Member Sue Horn-Caskey to demonstrate how the strips will get folded and clamped together using office binder clips and glue stick.
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First the strips are cut and scored, with small holes added and tabs cut out. Then they are folded on a special jig created for that purpose. Scene shop expert (and annual Nutcracker child wrangler) Shari Goss works with a volunteer to demonstrate the folding process.
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The skeleton of rings that form the ribs of the trees.
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Here Grade assists a volunteer who is assembling the final components that will make the very top of one of the completed trees.
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The trees are perforated both to allow light in and to allow light to shine from within the tree outwards.
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Several of the segments come together, showing how the folded Tyvek panels are glued together to form the rings of the tree.
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Production involved one artist, one director of production, several alert technicians, and over 150 volunteers logging over 1600 volunteer hours. In addition to OBT's board, staff, and volunteer corps, volunteers came from the Portland Art Museum Docent Council, PSU's Architecture Department (as well as their sculpture and performing arts departments), Hands On Portland, OMSI, and Milepost 5.
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The build took 13 days, with shifts beginning at 9 am and running through 10 pm.
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The trees begin to come together...
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...as the result of hundreds of little Tyvek strips, pounds and pounds of glue stick, some plywood rings, and a lot of care.
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Brian Simcoe (foreground), plays Narcissus, a boy who falls in love with his own reflections, played by Lucas Threefoot (background). Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert
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Brian Simcoe (right) and Threefoot (left) as Narcissus and his reflection. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert
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Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert
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Xuan Cheng plays Echo, the mountain nymph who is cursed by Hera to only be able to repeat the words of others. She falls in love with Narcissus, but is spurned by him in favor of his reflection.
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Finally, a dancer exploring one of the finished trees.
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