One afternoon my partner got this idea to make clothing for trees. This led to the making of a “tree corset.” After repeated tries I got a strip of birch bark and punched holes in its two ends to allow for lacing to close the piece. Wrapping it around the trunk of a very big old spruce, I stood back to admire my work when I realized the stump of a cut branch was preventing the corset from lying flat against the trunk. Unable to cut it back any further I improvised and cut a hole in the birch bark to allow the stump to show through. However, the weeping stump oozed sap in an unexpected and suggestive way.

Passing by, a neighbor clasped her hand over her mouth and giggled. Without even trying we had managed to eroticize a spruce tree. But the matter didn’t end there; the next year we returned to find the whole “corset” had been removed from the tree and carefully laid beside the front door. The Community Standards Committee had made its feelings known about the tree corset. It was the first act of public censorship.

I subsequently made two pieces using birch bark strips encircling the tree: Bark Hands, that the public has been photographing for years without objection.