Man transforms downed Wilmette tree into art

December 20, 2011 10:00:00 PM PST
A north suburban artist is giving new life to Wilmette's Bicentennial Tree, which toppled during a summer wind storm.

Wilmette's Bicentennial Tree was believed to be the oldest and largest green Ash in the Chicago area. Tree experts believe it sprouted in 1746. When the 265-year-old tree fell in July, so did a bit of history.

. "I decided if they were going to grind up the old one that I wanted to do something better than having it become shredded bark in someone's garden. So I wanted to create art so it would have a longer life," artist JC Malm said.

Malm has turned the sunroom in his Glenview home into a studio. Malm said, "I'm making art and at the same time clocks ... and, thermometers, barometers and it's all part of the bicentennial tree that was knocked down by a storm on July 11th."

Malm, a former commercial real estate broker, is now a professional artist working with centuries old pieces of wood. His clients are part of the process.

"I invite the customers over to pick out their own style and piece of wood because no piece of wood is the same. It's like a snowflake. Each has its own pattern," Malm said.

Malm is mixing pre American Revolution history with modern clocks and other instruments. He does it with the most basic of tools.

"It's a very brittle wood and almost powdery and you have to be careful about it," Malm said.

Working with wood runs in Malm's family.

"My grandfather came over in 1880 and was a millworker. He set up shop in central Wisconsin. He made windows and doors so it's definitely in my blood," Malm said.

Time in timeless wood sells for $40 to $400.

J.C. Malm
Curiosit'a at Work
(847)602 8510

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