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Bellingham couple didn’t want to remove the tree, so they hired a woodcarver

Sculptor breathes life into Bellingham tree stump

Bellingham homeowners Paul Barnes and Judy Nasmith decided to have sculptor Tomas Vrba turn a tree stump in their backyard into a sculpture of the "Tree Spirit," a mythological benevolent creature of the forest, Jan 26, 2017.
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Bellingham homeowners Paul Barnes and Judy Nasmith decided to have sculptor Tomas Vrba turn a tree stump in their backyard into a sculpture of the "Tree Spirit," a mythological benevolent creature of the forest, Jan 26, 2017.

When Bellingham homeowners Paul Barnes and Judy Nasmith decided to finally get rid of a Douglas fir tree in their backyard, they never expected what happened next.

“This tree had been topped several times before, so it didn’t look too good,” Nasmith said. “But when they started cutting it, it just looked like it needed to be something more.”

After three weeks of searching, they found a sculptor who could carve it into something else: a tree spirit.

Tomas Vrba of Everett has worked on downed trees, cedar “butts” deemed unfit for a sawmill, and even on worn-out telephone poles, creating public and private projects with a chain saw, grinder and chisels.

“In England, they say there are tree spirits in the forest, and if you are lucky enough to see one, you’ll have fortune for the rest of your life,” explained Vrba, a native of Slovakia.

Nasmith said she hopes the tree will stay for future homeowners, too.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but he has amazed us with his speed and artistic abilities,” she said.

Philip A. Dwyer: 360-715-2839, @PhilipADwyer

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