Couple’s forestry practices have a certain ring to it
FLOYD, Va. — Using trees to grow wedding rings as a way of making a living and spreading joy may sound magical, but at Green Wood Wizard, the endeavor of Frank Hyldahl and Dawn Shiner, is based on science, they said.
Hyldahl said he had wanted to grow living houses but found that was not possible. He discovered that he might grow rings on trees and decided to try in 2003.
The process he experimented with involved tying twigs in circles on the trees.
Explaining the process, Shiner said Hyldahl is tying a half-knot, wrapping the ring twig so the wood of the grain is running in the same direction.
Shiner said she views the process as a collaboration between themselves and the trees which use their natural self-grafting abilities to grow in a circle.
“Its trees way to self-graft,” Shiner said. “I see it as a collaboration, knowing what the tree wants.”
Hyldahl wraps it around a wooden armature he cuts in ring sizes. He even made a device to cut the armatures. It can take from 18 months to six years for a twig to become a ring he can use to create the final product, he said.
After rings are removed from the tree and separated from the armature that has shaped them, Frank rubs heated oils rubbed into the rings. The couple said they use the hardest of natural, food-safe waxes and oils for durable beauty and usefulness.
The oils drive water out of the rings, hardening the wood. Hyldahl said he often can see the water bubbling out of the wood as he polishes a ring.
The project has grown into a business that has attracted many people seeking unique wedding and special occasion rings, the couple said. They have an international market due to their Internet presence. One ring went to a woman just released by Somali pirates, they said.
They credit a visit from an Extension agent from another state with helping them set up a web-based store through etsy.com. The agent was traveling in the area and saw Green Wood Wizard’s advertising. He called to ask to visit and within two hours had arrived, the couple said. He was the first to call what they were doing “sustainable forestry.”
The ring trees are located in a grove above their home on the mountain.
Green Wood Wizard trees come in several species. Hyldahl said he is not sure how many ring trees he has, but guesses between 30 and 50. There are black cherry, oak, sweet birch, flowering dogwood, apple and an American chestnut, they report. This is a rarity Dawn hopes to share with the American Chestnut Foundation.
“Growing Tree Rings is a living process,” their advertising pamphlet states. “Our ring-growing Artisan trees are maintained in functional, life-sustaining, interconnected plant and microbial guilds for the health of our Artisan partners. The Artisan Trees actively choose harmony-of-well-being when grafting tree rings, unifying the Tree as a whole.”
“Our guiding vision is to create without harm, produce without greed and creatively collaborate with living trees,” the couple said.
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