So. We had this tree. It was beautiful but was a house killer so it had to come down. I hate when trees have to come down. The tree guy says to us at the time (a few months ago) “Do you want to keep a tall stump I know a guy who carves trees.” We said yes. We called this guy up several times. Only this tree carver never called us back. Good thing in the end, because our tree was carved by the person I think meant to carve it.
Around the same time Carver “X” wasn’t calling us back, friends in Phoenixville had a giant tree carved. It was amazing. We asked them who they used. “Marty Long” they replied. So we called him up. He asked us to look at his website to see if what he did was to our liking.
I think it took five seconds of looking at his website to say “oh yes, please”. This was tree carving I had never seen the likes of. It was fully sculptural, often lyrical and even fey. I have a friend from high school who is a marvelous sculptor, so I appreciate the craft.
Marty said he would fit us in when he had time.
Summer rolled through and I began to realize that some of my favorite wood carvings I had seen out of trees were his creations. The giant frog in North Wayne. The rabbit totem pole on the Haas Estate facing County Line Road in Villanova. And many others. It ends up that all of the wood carvings I really like are his.
Marty was trained as a chef at Johnson and Wales. He went from crazy ice carving to tree/stump carving. He also carves benches and furniture and does extreme power carving. One of the many articles written about his work was written by my friend Bonnie Cook:
By Bonnie L. Cook INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Posted: September 02, 2008
High above the road in Villanova, what’s left of a giant oak is becoming chainsaw art.
Marty Long, an ice sculptor turned wood carver, slices away at the 12-foot-high trunk in front of an orthodontist’s home at 91 N. Spring Mill Rd.
As chips fly, three figures emerge: a boy climbing the trunk, a girl resting halfway up, and a teenage boy, with arms raised, exultant at reaching the top.
“It symbolizes the different stages of life – the small child and the teenager. The boy has worked really hard to get to the top of the tree,” says Anthony R. Costa, 42, as he and wife Cole, 30, peer up at the work they’ve commissioned….
Long began whittling tree trunks, mostly for affluent suburban homeowners. Word spread, and Long found himself earning a living as a tree carver.
His first work, 15 years ago, was an owl. He’s done alligators, dogs, lions, rabbits, raccoons, wolves, bears, deer, birds, frogs, gnomes, flowers, people, angels, fairies, Winnie the Pooh, and “right after 9/11, an eagle taking flight.”
Some of the figures stand alone. Others peek from holes in a “tree.” The carvings can be seen outside homes, retirement facilities and schools; there’s a bulldog outside Charlestown Elementary School, which sons Jack, 9, and Ryan, 7, attend.
We had a different vision for our tree then the people interviewed above. We both love owls and I also love green men and wood sprites and spirits. Marty came and walked around, checking out my quasi tamed but somewhat feral garden (as I have previously mentioned, my garden suffered from lack of care due to an elderly gardener before I got my paws on it.)
He called us a week ago and said it was time. I was so excited I think I was probably a bit ridiculous to live with.
Marty and his assistant John showed up and he asked me what we wanted, or should I be more specific, had what we wanted changed since we first met with him. I said nope and said the end result would be up to him as the artist. I figured the wood would tell him what it wanted to be as he got into it.
From the body of a tree formerly known as a GIANT RED OAK has arisen this amazing sculpture. It’s like a totem pole and it is awesome. I have the ultimate owl on one side guarding over us and my garden, and on the other side of the tree is a wood-spirit who must have a green man as a cousin. He gazes out at us with knowing all-seeing eyes and his hair and beard are partially made of leaves.
I find myself just staring at the tree. Marty’s work is simply amazing and very beautiful. His tree carvings are raw energy and then they flow into these amazing creations. They are indeed pieces of art if you let him go with the flow of his creativity.
If you want to connect with Marty, here is his website: www.martylong.com. Tell him you read about him on Chester County Ramblings. If you want the most amazing thing ever, this is your guy.
Chester County has some truly amazing crafts people and artists.
I think this thing is so cool that I need my own druid…..