OLYMPIA - Millions of families in the U.S. use one of three types of Christmas trees to decorate their homes for the holidays - a recently harvested tree, an artificial tree or a live potted tree.
Olympia artist and sculptor Dave Sederberg has crafted a fourth option that he calls a windfall Christmas tree.
Sederberg builds metal tree trunks and stands with about 30 metal tubes welded to the trunk at 20-degree angles.
The next step is to collect conifer tree branches that have fallen during storms – that’s windfall – or branches pruned from live trees to insert in the tubes.
In minutes, a Christmas tree fashioned from real tree branches and a reusable tree trunk is ready for ornaments and lights.
Sederberg, 50, said he has spent part of the past two years designing his windfall tree to serve as an environmentally friendly, sustainable way for family and friends to enjoy a new Christmas tree tradition.
“It’s definitely not for everybody,” Sederberg said, noting that the tree branches dry out more quickly than those of a live, harvested tree, and that the shape of the tree is not a perfect, symmetrical cone.
“Symmetry is overrated,” Sederberg said. “I’m looking for balance in a tree.”
The artist, who also owns and operates Pacific Stage, an Olympia-based sound and light business, said he designed the windfall Christmas trees because the other primary types of trees have their owns sets of problems.
“I wanted a real tree, but I don’t want to have to cut one down to use for just two weeks,” he said.
Fake trees aren’t welcome in the Sederberg home because of the toxic chemicals, lead and plastics associated with some models, he said.
“And a potted tree can be a lot of work too,” Sederberg said.
The windfall tree provides the real-tree aroma and a chance to start a new tradition with family and friends – collecting and sharing branches to build a tree, he said.
“There’s absolutely a place for them,” said Eli Sterling, an Olympia community activist and a founder of the annual Procession of the Species event in Olympia. “Windfall trees take environmental issues and incorporate them into the holidays.”
With his 5-year-old daughter, Whitney, looking on, Sederberg built a windfall tree last week out of an assortment of branches the two had collected.
At the base of the tree, Sederberg placed a windfall branch gathered from beneath the “Moon Tree,” a Douglas fir planted at the Capitol Campus from a seed that went to the moon during the Apollo 14 lunar landing in 1971.
“How many Christmas trees have a branch from a tree seed that’s been to the moon?” Sederberg asked.
Next, he added branches collected at his neighborhood’s Bigelow Park after the series of late November wind storms.
“There’s enough branches up there for 20 trees,” he said.
Sederberg added some cedar and noble fir branches, then adorned the tree with some holly and rosemary from the yard.
“The tree is an ornament itself, even without lights and ornaments,” he said.
Sederberg is just getting started with commercial production of his windfall tree stands, which will sell for about $150.
He’s not prepared for a flurry of sales this year. He seems more artist than entrepreneur in his roll-out of the windfall tree alternative.
“I can build a couple stands a day,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
John Dodge: 360-754-5444
For more information about windfall trees, go to www.windfalltrees.com.
See them for yourself
Windfall trees will be on public display at the Winter Solstice Celebration scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Procession of the Species Community Arts Studio, 3111/2 Capitol Way N., Olympia.