Patrick Dougherty's sapling sculptures

 Images Gallery Lg Sittinpretty  Images Gallery Lg Callofthewild
Patrick Dougherty is a sculptor who uses tree saplings as his construction material. He began with small pieces on pedestals and his work eventually, er, grew into massive installations that require truckloads of saplings. Patrick Dougherty (Thanks, Michael-Anne Rauback!)

UPDATE: Dougherty was featured in Vol. 8 of CRAFT! "Temple of Twigs"


  1. Claus Oldenburg meets Andy Goldsworthy, as interpreted by someone who has taken one too many Michael’s Crafts classes on “how to make your own Christmas wreathes.”

    Still, it’s interesting, in a lets-make-these-natural-materials-do-things-they-would-rather-not-do sort of way.

  2. Dougherty used to have one of these sculptures in New Harmony, Indiana. It was great, children would play around it and everyone loved it. It burned down about a year ago though, no one is really sure how…

  3. This is a great way to keep those pesky forests from getting overgrown. Imagine what he could do if he used thousands of old-growth redwoods!

  4. Why not use the “living” saplings as the media? Then it will grow in time and become something possibly even greater.

  5. I knew these looked familiar! I was in DeKalb, IL when he did an installation at Northern Illinois University in 1999.

    They are much sturdier than they look like they would be.

    #7 – Don’t living saplings grow up to become trees? Trees planted very close together that will be competing for rootspace? I think that would not work for the same reason that you do not see these growing together like this naturally.

  6. I helped Patrick build one of these at Bowling Green State university in Ohio. It was great fun, he is a very efficient user of his time and people.

    By pure luck, I was walking by our structure on campus around 2AM one night and saw that the thing was smoldering. Someone had lit rolled up newspaper and set it on fire. It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before I happened by. I put it out and told the police. They actually found the people who did it by descriptions given by workers at a nearby janitors office who saw the perps.


  7. I saw his installation at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, and it was wonderful. Photographs don’t do these justice — you have to wander around (and inside) them to get the full effect.

  8. I ate a falafel from East Side Pockets inside one of these installations at Brown University in Providence. I was with my friend Geoff. The sculpture was really nice. So was the sandwich. So was my friend Geoff.

Comments are closed.