Hand-forged tree of life to grace donor recognition wall of MRH medical office building
When it opens later this year, the Memorial Regional Health medical office building will recognize supporters with a hand-forged iron tree of life.
Little uses traditional blacksmith tools as well as modern metal work machinery to create hand-forged iron products.
“We strive to take the work a notch above with the attention to detail in concepts and designs,” he said.
He’s been pounding metal into useful items since his days as a teenager at summer camp at Swan Lake, New Hampshire.
“I can trace back the first time I hit hot iron with a hammer,” Little said. “The natural world around me, and how it makes me feel, is the basis for the first tree and much of my work.”
After working part-time at an environmental center interpreting a historic blacksmith shop for visitors, he began designing household items and sculptures for shows.
When one of his sculptures — a tree of life — caught the eye of a fundraiser, she asked if he could make a larger version with leaves that could be engraved. Soon Little was making his first donor tree that topped seven feet high and between seven to eight feet wide.
“That’s what started the first one of the donor recognition trees for a hospice residence,” he said. “One of the things I love about the trees, they are a way for me to produce a sculpture piece… but I am also facilitating the hospital, hospice, or university mission through my work. To me that adds a whole other layer.”
With each tree the artist tries to learn about the people, the mission and campaign. Each tree is made one at a time, individually hand-crafted in Little’s New Hampshire shop.
“These entities that have my trees, they are used for not just recognizing donors, they lend themselves to community involvement, something bigger, paying it forward,” he said.
Only one other place in Colorado — the Colorado Institute of Fertility — boasts a tree of life made by Little.
He and his family have ties to Steamboat Springs and have visited the Craig area, so when MRH Foundation Director Eva Peroulis called, he felt strongly about supporting the project.
“I felt a real kinship with the mountains of Colorado. I’m thrilled to be a part of this project,” he said.
Each of the leaves will be engraved with the name of people and organizations that donate money to the MRH Foundation for the MOB.
“…with levels of giving for bronze ($1,000) silver ($5,000) and gold ($10,000) and those donors who have contributed at the $25,000 level will receive naming rights to clinic exam rooms and waiting rooms. Donors have three years to pay for their pledges,” Peroulis said.
Leaves are currently being engraved, but there’s still time for purchase a leaf and receive recognition by contacting Peroulis at 970-826-2424 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tree is expected to be ready to ship in one piece in July for installation prior to the grand opening of the building, currently scheduled for August 30.
“I gain great satisfaction from my work, especially the work of the trees that allow me to be part of the mission of these great organizations,” Little said.
This year, a handful of Moffat County High School graduates are setting out to carry on the family tradition. From business to education, these students plan to follow in the footsteps their parents and in some cases, grandparents and great-grandparents.