On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, several local, artistic residents gathered to install a beautiful, handmade ‘Conversation Table’, a 6-foot diameter wood table composed of reclaimed Douglas Fir planks, with original art of a salmon in the middle.
Created and donated by Guy Harper and Jim Ploegman, the table was installed on top of the stump of a maple tree that was originally planted in the 1940s. Harper conceived the table, created the artwork, did woodwork, sanding, painting and varnishing, while Ploegman did woodwork, as well as the installation to the tree stump.
“The purpose of the table is to to bring many folks, young and old, together to simply congregate and easily enjoy a specific discussion or simply each other,” Harper said. “It could easily be a ‘motivational’ area in which folks may want to brain storm to create ways or methods to solve issues or present new ideas in an effort to move ahead after a community slow down due to the recent virus.”
Harper is a longtime Burien resident who attended Lake Burien School when he was a child (as did his wife Pam, although she attended later), and he shared how much the tree stump and large trees nearby meant to him.
“We estimate the resulting stump was from a tree planted in the 1940’s when I was a student at the school,” Harper said. “It just seemed to be natural for a placement for a community table.”
Harper added that “the City of Burien Maintenance Crew has done a wonderful job of restoring the park along with new athletic equipment and additionally, a great new asphalt track. They are also to be congratulated.”
Ploegman is the son of the founder of the Masters Carving School and Art Club in Renton, which he currently runs. He started carving in 1964, “when I was 4 years old. I decided to help my dad carve a coffee table with a screw driver,” he said. “Doesn’t that count?”
He donated his time, location and the historic 2×6 Douglas Fir planks, then processed them so they would represent a very interesting useful and colorful art project. The final table is 6-feet in diameter and almost three inches thick. It is redwood color stained and has four coats of excellent marine varnish.
Below is video with interviews and scenes of the installation, as shot and edited by Scott Schaefer:
And here are some photos of the table and installation:
The Conversation Table is located on a tree stump in the southwest corner of Lake Burien School Memorial Park: