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'The Green Man' sculpture puts life into dying Manor elm

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:46 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Stuart Frazer is seated next to his creation that he did for a couple outside their home in Manor Township. Monday April 21, 2014. 'The Green Man' is carved from a century-old Elm tree that was taken down in the winter.

A North Buffalo wood carver worked his magic with a chain saw to transform a tree stump into a symbol of new growth for a Manor Township couple — just in time Earth Day.

Stuart Frazer, who teaches physical education and health at Ford City High School, carves wooden sculptures in his spare time under the company name Keystone Carvings.

He brought the image of “The Green Man” — a bearded mythological representation of the natural world — to life by carving into the eight-foot standing remains of an elm tree owned by Lynn and Jim Ramage.

The couple, who are master gardeners, are delighted with the results.

“We wanted something benign to match our woodland garden,” Lynn said.

Oak leaves and acorns twine around a serene bearded face and flowing hair. At the base, green shoots of hostas sprout in a landscape graced with daffodils and mature hollies, cedars, tulip poplars, oaks and evergreens.

Lynn pointed out how the natural variations of color within the tree add dimension and a sense of movement to the carving.

“If it got up and walked through the yard, I wouldn't be a bit surprised,” she said.

She and her husband had asked Frazer to do the carving after they were forced to cut down the dying elm.

Frazer has been doing wood carving projects for the past six years, but this is his first “Green Man” carving. He started it two weeks ago and it took him about 30 hours to complete.

He said he had an idea of what the face would look like when the chain saw buzzed through the wet bark. But he wanted to make sure that the image looked realistic and appealed to what the Ramages had in mind.

“You have to dig inside the wood and pull the sculpture out,” he said. “I'm real happy with it, but the main thing is that they're happy with it. It's nice to bring their dreams to reality.”

And happy they are.

“We're just smitten,” Lynn said. “How did he know that man was in there?”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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