Giving new life to an old friend

Messenger photos by Theresa Hennis
Harry (Corky) Bivens of Mount Sterling stands under his art tree creation.

(Posted June 28, 2019)

By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”         –William Blake

Where others saw only a dead tree on his property, Harry “Corky” Bivens imagined renewed life for it.

“My boy told me we needed to rent a saw and cut it down, and I said leave it go—I’m gonna make a new tree,” the Mount Sterling man said.

While on vacation in Michigan with a buddy, Bivens saw an artistic design made out of metal on the front of a barn.

“I came home and said, ‘That’s it. I’m gonna do that,’” he said.

With the seed of the barn art idea planted, the tree started taking shape.

Bivens is used to working with his hands and staying busy. He was employed at General Motors for 28 years working with sheet metal and 21 years at Advanced Drainage Systems.

“I’ve made everything from cars to houses. I’ve done everything in the world,” said the retiree.

To bring new life to his old tree, Bivens cut free-form flowers out of a vinyl-like roofing material. Five pop-rivets hold each flower to a circular backing with bells at the center. Altogether, 2,000 bells adorn the flowers. They hang on coat hangers which mimic stems. The design also includes circular, hand-painted, wooden flowers.

Rebar is driven into the tree’s bark to hold ¼-inch steel rods bent into four quarter panels with braces that support the “canopy of flower-leaves” and clips that hold the panels together. The project took three months to complete.

Bivens was inspired recently to add one more touch to his tree.

“I was standing outside and saw the religious statue that belonged to my mother on the ground up against one of our other trees,” he said. “We bought it 50 years ago, and I decided to carve a place into the tree and put it there.”

Bivens attached leftover flowers from his tree project on this water wheel on his property.

Betty Passwaters, a neighbor who passes Bivens’s home on her daily walk, admires the tree and suggested the addition of lights.

“I joked with her and told her, ‘Betty, just keep on walking!’” Bivens said.

But the suggestion sparked his creativity.

“The flowers would hold lights, but I just have to figure out how I want to do it,” he said.

On another section of Bivens’s property stands a water wheel he made to which he attached 29 flowers leftover from the tree project. He said his grandchildren would like to see him make something else special to put there, and he’s looking for ideas.

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