‘Remembering our Trees’ project deadline nears
NEW CASTLE – The “Remembering our Trees” project is a unique piece of artwork being done in copper by local artist Judy Schwab, a metals and mixed media artist who has lived in Craig County for over 30 years. Once completed the 6-foot-by-4-foot piece will result in a permanent work of art for the Craig County Public Library.
In addition to the primary piece of art work which will be hung on a wall in the library, a book entitled “Copper Leaves” will also be placed as part of the project. This book, also unique from its inception, gives everyone in the county a chance to become part of the project.
“We were really hoping to have lots of wonderful leaves for the book we are doing,” said Lee Greiser, vice president and secretary of the library board. “The leaves that are turned in will be traced and replicated in paper-thin copper,” Greiser added.
The copper replica of each leaf, along with a short statement in 100 words or less as to why the tree and/or leaf is special to you or your family, will become a page in the book. And this year with such an early spring, there is certainly no shortage of leaves, noted Martha Murphy also a member of the library board.
The project will depict the Keffer tree, a historic white oak in Craig County along the Appalachian Trail access path that gained official notoriety when it was written up in “Remarkable Trees of Virginia” by Nancy Ross and Jeff Kirwan with photography by Robert Llewellyn.
Though there are many magnificent trees in the book, the Keffer Oak is one of the largest blazed trees along the Appalachian Trail. It is located northwest of Blacksburg near Newport, Virginia between the Craig Creek Valley and Sinking Creek Valley.
By saying it is blazed means that it is a familiar land mark along the Appalachian Trail that serves as a guide and a rendezvous point.
It is mentioned in hikers’ blogs, trail guides and backpacking journals. Situated in a pasture on the edge of the Jefferson National Forest, the tree would be hard to miss with a trunk of over 18 feet in diameter and a height so tall it towers over everything else in the area along the trail. In fact, the next comparably large tree on the AT is reported to be a Dover oak near Pawling, N.Y. It is reported to be the largest tree on the 2,174-mile trail according to “Remarkable Trees of Virginia”.
Having been inspired by the Keffer tree which is located on property adjoining hers, Schwab came up with the idea of doing some art work for the library which would evolve around that particular tree.
After brainstorming with members of the Library Board and former library director, Marguerite Noga, the “Remembering our Trees” project which would ultimately become a part of the library’s Local History Collection was born.
The project has become a reality in part through a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts that described the proposal as “a wonderful, gem project” that would “be available to the public at no cost and would be meaningful to the community as well as the state.”
However, the library board and supporters had to raise $1,500 in matching funds. The project is also partially supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Those wishing to contribute to the project still have time to submit a leaf. Leaves need to be pressed between waxed paper and put inside a book. “This will keep the edges of the leaf flat so it can be easily traced,” Schwab said. You may submit up to three leaves. Entries must be into the library by May 30 in order to be replicated in copper in time for the dedication celebration in June.
The artwork will be unveiled at an open house/reception to be held at the library on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to noon. Donors of $10 or more will be listed in the book.
Further information can be found on the library’s website craiglibrary.org or by calling the library at 864-8978.