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Art in Public Places

The Corkscrew Juniper

Tom Benedict
Mountain Wildwoods Exhibit, Gardens on Spring Creek


I often get asked where I get big juniper pieces like these, followed closely  by HOW I get big juniper pieces like these. And I can tell you that where is easier than how. I normally collect wood on ranches where I have permission to do so. These junipers  grow on a lot of steep rocky slopes that are usually south facing. They have extensive roots to suck up water from places where there isn't much. I’ve learned to look in spots where I’m not any farther than one mile from the road. And the closer the better, obviously.

The corkscrew juniper was the first of the really BIG juniper pieces that I collected. I found it laying at the bottom of a steep rocky gully, probably right below where it had likely lived out its life. It took many visits over the course of several years to figure out how to get it out. Which is kind of how it goes with the biggest pieces. I don’t just find them, say “awesome, what luck!”, sling them over my shoulder and go home. There's a lot of thinking and planning out how to actually get it out. Each piece is kind of an experiment in that way. For the corkscrew, I brought in a two wheel (“budget” model) dolly  to assist in the extraction. About midway to the truck, the experiment failed when both wheels sheared off of the dolly from the weight. I was able to eventually get the piece the rest of the way by pulling it over some round logs that were constantly being placed under it. A little primitive, and very slow,  but it worked. Since then, I have collected a lot more large junipers and I can definitively say that I have gotten better at the process. But the pieces have gotten larger, and in some cases are further out. So, the experiment goes on,  and   I imagine it always will. At least now, after the corkscrew juniper experience, I’ve gotten a much better Dolly.

...Thanks for listening