New Bottle Tree Sculpture

I’ve been asked, “Do you really have a bottle tree?” Yes, I do. In my back yard I have two of them. They make me happy, simple as that. And because I love them so much I still collect blue bottles to be used for a future project at some point. But now I have THREE bottle trees!

My father, Jim Davis, is a metalworking artist who has rapidly been expanding his skill set and design accomplishments. While he’s always been creative, he’s only recently begun to allow himself to think of his work as art, and himself as an artist. Entranced with the technical aspects of blacksmithing and wrought iron work, he made a grapevine-themed bottle tree as a commission. I joked that I hoped his customer would hate it so that I could have it. No such luck, the customer loved it, and I started to get that pout on my mouth that little girls save for their daddies. Dad started to move into more organic shapes in his work, more abstract and less representational work. About six months ago he excitedly came to me with a folder of drawings with an idea for a bottle tree. I loved the design immediately. But it took a while for him to be sure exactly what he wanted to do. And we went back and forth with a few design details. I wanted lights and a water feature. He worried over the logistics and technical challenges. Every time he’d visit he’d go outside with a tape measure and think on it. I had no choice but to be patient.

Finally, I got a call from him that it was finished. I was told to have bottles ready and washed up. I cleared my schedule and waited for him to arrive. I was pretty excited by the time I heard his old pickup rumble its way up the street. My bottle tree had arrived! As you can well imagine from the following pictures, I was pretty pleased. Follow along to see the installation process.

Metal bottle tree sculpture framework at
Here is the basic bottle tree as we were unloading it off the truck.
Digging the hole for my bottle tree.
Here’s my dad digging the hole. We had to take out an azalea and that pine had to go, too.
Dad using a post hole digger.
Having worked as a farmer half of his life, my dad knows how to dig a hole. A post hole digger makes a nice narrow hole.
Measuring the depth of the hole.
The sculpture was designed with a 30″ post to be embedded into the ground. We had to measure to get it deep enough.
Holding the sculpture steady while we put dirt and concrete in the hole.
Holding the framework in the right angle was a family job.
Wiggling the new bottle tree framework to get the framework right angle.
My mom and dad adjusting the framework to get the angle just right.
Mixing the concrete in the hole.
Two sacks of concrete mix were used to make sure the post stays steady. Experience has shown Dad that mixing in the hole works just fine.
Populating the bottle tree with its crop of bottles.
Firmly in the ground, it’s time to begin putting bottles on the tree.
The access panels for the back of the bottle tree are removable for access to the lights.
The bottle tree is made with panels that are bolted on the back. They’re removable so that lights can be installed into each bottle.
The back side of the bottle tree.
The back side of the bottle tree is just as interesting as the front.
Jim Davis along with the blue bottle tree sculpture that he made for his daughter, Ginger. This stands outside the studio of
And here’s the finished bottle tree, along with the artist, Jim Davis.

My dad was worried that I wouldn’t like the design. He kept saying that it was outlandish. And too curvy. And different. I told him that I trusted his design sense and that he had complete creative freedom to make exactly the way he wanted. But I truly love the design. It’s balanced, harmonious, it fits remarkably well into the surroundings. And it met my one criteria…it’s a blue bottle tree. And you see the windows behind it? Those are the windows to my studio. So I can always look up while working and see how much my dad loves me. I’m a lucky, lucky girl!


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