The beautiful woodpile mosaic owls are the work of Gary Tallman, an 82-year-old Montana resident who turns the chore of stacking firewood into an art form. Over the years Tallman has learned the many colors found in various types of cordwood and uses them as his palette.
“Everybody doesn’t notice how many tones in the wood there are,” Marilyn Tallman said of her husband’s eye for the subtleties of wood. “He sees beauty in all kinds of things.”
“Generally speaking, we can find almost all the colors and tones in the woods that we harvest,” Tallman said of his woodpile mosaic. “Except for black,” he confessed. “We don’t have any ebony around here so I do color the ends of some of the black ones. But the others are pretty much just the way they come out of nature.”
Tallman’s ongoing owl theme is based on the birds who live in the trees around his home in Montana’s Little Belt Mountains. Each piece begins with a sketch drawn on graph paper. After first chopping and splitting the wood, Tallman sorts the various hues into separate piles. Then the process of stacking begins. He estimates that it takes him about 20 hours to stack one of his mosaics.