Welding Strong Emotional Bonds: Wayne Smith's "Trees Of Life" Sculpture Comforts The Afflicted
January 4, 2010
Using a 350-amp Miller wire feed welder and flux cored wire, Wayne Smith created his "Trees Of Life" sculpture as a permanent monument for those who have lost loved ones to cancer.
Bridges, trucks, carts, HVAC systems and bulldozers are all among the very practical and useful objects made possible by welding. It's not everyday, however, that welding is used to provide comfort and solace to those who have lost a loved one to cancer. But that's exactly what Wayne Smith's "Trees Of Life" sculpture is doing for dozens of families in the town of Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Following a Relay For Life event to support cancer research, Smith decided that a more permanent monument was needed to recognize the struggles and pain caused by cancer.
Saving up his own money to cover the cost of the project, Smith devoted over 200 hours to building the "Trees Of Life" sculpture. It currently resides in Truro's town square and will be moved to the Colchester Regional Hospital once a major construction project there is complete.
Full of symbolism and meaning-the lights represent "candles to the angels," and the three trees represent three wise men-the sculpture offers families who have lost loved ones to cancer the opportunity to have their loved ones' names engraved on an aluminum tag and attached to the trees. The circumference of each tree is patterned after a clock so that the tag can be placed at the respective time on the tree that their loved one passed away.
Since the 6-ton sculpture was completed in December 2008, there has been an emotional outpouring of support and appreciation for the sculpture.
"There was one man whose daughter died of leukemia, and he cried on my shoulder while thanking me for building this," Smith recalls. "That's my reward. That's all the payment I need."
Empathizing with their losses, Smith has also written a number of poems in honor of his friends and acquaintances who have lost family members to cancer. In one poem, Smith writes of a father who lost his son over 20 years ago and the life events that he wasn't able to share with his son. Another recounts the story of a family that lost their 20-year-old daughter to cancer.
"Through these sculptures and poems, I try to tell the story of the sorrow and loss that these families experienced, but also the hope and comfort that they find in honoring the memory of their loved ones," Smith said.
The response to the "Trees Of Life" sculpture has been so positive, in fact, that Smith has been asked to build another one, twice as big, for a hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Smith built the sculpture using 12-in., schedule 40 pipe and 3- X 1/2-in. flat bar stock using a 350-amp Miller wire feed welder and flux cored wire. The butterflies at the top of each tree were cut on a CNC table by an associate of Smith's.
When not using his welding skills to brighten the lives of families devastated by tragedy, Smith runs Wayne Smith Welding Co. Ltd., a custom fabrication shop focusing highway trailers and hook lift trucks.