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Growing Amazing Furniture : Tree Shaping

The Art & Science of Designer Treespeter-cook-garden-chair-tree
Treesculpturing is an art and technique of growing and shaping trees and other woody plants. It’s natural that the trees take various shapes to cope up hindrances, growth blocks and other factors.

The word Arborsculpture is derived from the words arbor (Latin for tree) and sculpture. It was first used in the book How to Grow a Chair- The Art of Tree Trunk Topiary (1995) authored by Reames and Delbol.

Furniture Growing Technology

red-maple-bench2Nothing secret about it. No biotechnology or bioengineering involved. This amazing tree transformation into designer furniture is achieved by  grafting, bending and pruning the selected trees into various shapes either ornamental or useful.

Tree shaping relies on the ability of plants (trees) to be united together by approach grafting and the ability to retain a new shape when new layers of wood forms to hold a desired shape.

About Treeshapers
It’s a great honor to me that that after reading my blog the tree shaping goddess Becky Northey herself  mailed me here. (see comments). She advised me to suggest the viewers to visit treeshapers website and know about all sorts of tree shaping experiments so far.  Interwoven Ficus created by Jessie-HirschAccording to which the people who shape trees are in 3 main categories : Visionary Creators,     Inspired Explorers, Aficionados Practitioners. Read more here.

Approach Grafting

Three shaping is accomplished by wounding two or more parts of a tree or trees by cutting off the bark, to or past the cambium layer and then binding the wounded parts together so good contact is secure while the wounded tree parts grow together.

Stems or branches, are bent into shapes and temporarily braced for a year tree-sculptureor more depending on the amount of resistance overcome. During that time, additional layers of wood grow. These new layers of wood act like a natural cast, keeping the Stem and branches in the new desired shape. The temporary bracing can be removed after the shape holds itself. Like this tree was shaped into a face.

Pruning may be required to remove unwanted branches and direct the growth into the desired shape. Pruning may also redirect stem growth. A pruning cut above a Leaf or Node can steer the plant. If a leaf points to the right, then a cut above that leaf will produce new growth that grows to the right side. Likewise, a cut above a leaf pointing to the left, produces new growth that grows to the left.

dongguan-chinaUsing these methods (also used in Arboriculture), items like benches, chairs, etc., can be formed from trees by bending, merging and manipulating Plant tissue.


Pruning tools utilized by a pruning and arborsculpture specialist for cutting twigs and branches. These tools include handpruners (Secateur) and a pruning saw.

The tools, materials and items for bending and shaping are virtually unlimited – basically, whatever each “Arborsculpturist” chooses for bending, fastening and restraining. This could include wood boards, pipe, rope, wire, string, tape, etc.. Even an item like a metal patio bench could be used as a pattern or mold.Tree as Ladder

Time required
The time required to grow and construct an arborsculpture project varies, depending on the size of starter material, the species rate of growth, cultivation conditions and the height of the design. It is possible to perform initial grafting and bending on a project in an hour, removing tape or material that holds the grafting or shape in as little as 1 year and following up with minimal pruning thereafter.

Tree Shaping Goddess Becky

Tree Shaping Goddess Becky Northey

Taller projects like the archway by Axel Erlandson may require 10 years or more to grow the trees tall enough to accomplish the grafting. Large trees could be bent into shape and grafted or bolted together in an afternoon.

Growing a Boat

Growing a Boat

Different styles of arborsculpture have different time requirements. When growing arborsculpture intended for harvesting and drying there is a defined point that the piece is finished. When growing a piece intended to stay alive it could be argued that the piece is never finished until it dies.

The common assumption is that these things take a long time and a lot of patience, the truth is time is an illusion and the sooner one starts the sooner one will have a substantially large tree. Do children grow up fast? How fast has the last 10 years of your life gone by ? You see it is all relative isn’t it ?

Mirror & Coffee Table

Becky Peter 's Mirror & Coffee Table

Want to read more. Visit here: Link-1, Link-2, Link-3, Link-4 and Link-5.

To Buy best books on this subject visit here. You may select books here as well.

Next we will learn soon the Art of Growing Furniture and yes it will be for free.


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11 Responses

  1. Hi Sudhir,
    Would YOU like to start the first such training studio? Mail me if interested

  2. Hi Tashi,
    You may try to grow small things first. Like you may first try a stool. Just follow these steps. Ask your plant supplier to provide you fresh bamboo plants. Plant them in four seperate equidistant places where you want this stool to stay. Take a sharp blade and very carefully scrap away the limited ‘skin’ portion of the shoots in such a way that does not harm or break the shoot. Now carefully place two ‘scrapped skinned’ shoots together and tie them up with the help of some cotton bandage in a way that doesnt leave the skinned portion exposed. Now leave these shoots for 15 days. Meanwhile supply them water and cow dung mixed water regularly. Dont let them face too much heat. Better make a shade to protect them from heavy rain. you will find after two weaks that both the differnt plants are growing as twins. Now you may start designing and joining their other twigs to make the top of the table or stool. Later you may take a round glass and make it rest over the netted top of branches knitted together whereas the stems will function as the legs. If interested you may cut the legs to make your designer stool move whereever you go.
    For more inputs please google your desired topic or ask here.
    with love,

  3. Hi. I want to grow and shape a tree. Bug what sort of plant do I need to use?? Thank you

  4. hey,,its wud be nice to know if this style is taugt in india ,,mumbai:)

  5. Hi,
    Well now I’m blushing. Thank you.

  6. Hi this is Becky form Pooktre
    Arborsculpture relates to Richard Reames’s method of shaping trees.
    At Wikipedia there was a consensus that a neutral name was needed for the artform, and Tree shaping was decided upon.

    The only tree shaped using the Arborsulpture’s extreme bending method is the first photo of the bench. The other tree photos belong to different artists.

    You may be also interested in visiting this website, which shows photos from all the different tree shapers from around the world.

  7. I am spelbound!
    It’s just amazing, mindblowing, fascinating and… well and much more.

    Thank you so much

    The picture gallery that you showed is gurrreaaat!
    Now, I wish I had a nice garden with trees etc etc. Alas I do not have many trees!