Trees show their faces

For the holidays, concrete forest faces add a whimsical touch

Go Garden

December 03, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

GO GARDEN Looking for a less gaudy way to dress up your yard for the holidays? Why not give your favorite tree a "forest face"?

Decorative forest faces - also called tree faces - started appearing at garden centers, in catalogs and on Web sites last year. At first glance, the faces resemble something toddlers might do with modeling clay. Close up, you see detailed facial features that might appear humorous, worrisome or frumpy.

A tree face is created with individual facial features - two eyes, nose and mouth - hung with nails on the front of a large tree.

Bruce Biggs of Quinton, Va., is credited for making the original tree face. He lived in California for 20 years, working as a computer network engineer. But he always loved doing sculpture and woodworking.

"I got the idea one evening in 1982, watching The Wizard of Oz," he says. "I starting making faces individually out of clay and giving them away as gag gifts."

As more people wanted them, he created his first mold and named his company Tree Faces. That first design, "The Original," resembles the face of an old man with droopy eyes and a mustache.

When Biggs moved to Virginia eight years ago, he started making more tree faces, expanding his line, which is available at sleepyhollow.biz, to animals such as Rocky Raccoon. Prices range from $20 to $44.

His faces are made of high-grade statuary concrete. The faces can be stained, painted or left natural; a galvanized wire hanger on the back makes it easy to put them on a small steel nail or screw without hurting the tree.

"The statuary concrete will last forever and develop its own character and patina," he says.

Other companies are making faces from weather-resistant vinyl.

For the harvest season, there's the scarecrow tree face ($15). For Christmas, there's a Santa face with a red cap and white beard.

There's also Frosty the Snowman, wearing a warm red scarf and a snappy top hat. Position him on your biggest oak. He'll keep you company until spring melts the last snow.

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