It towered over Big Tree Park for centuries, but it's been almost a year and a half since Central Florida lost the historic Senator tree in Longwood to a fire. Now, one artist is making a difference with what's left of the majestic tree.
The burned wood salvaged from the Senator is finding new life through woodwork.
The opportunity to create art with wood from the Senator is an honor for woodworker Jeffrey Matter. He is one of only three artists approved by Seminole County to use wood from the historic tree.
"Watched it burn on the news, and the first thing that entered my mind was I wonder what they're going to do with the wood," said Matter.
A woodworker most of his life, Matter is now turning the remnants of the Senator into various things, from bowls to wine stoppers, even jewelry.
"Everybody loves the fact something is being done with the wood," Matter said.
As he looks for expressions to make with the old wood, Matter is also noticing there are 3,500 years' worth of stories already within its rings.
"Most of the tree is inundated with this, just a piece of the Senator, no outside embellishments of any sorts. Looks exactly like a gator head to me," said Matter.
To preserve the memory of what the tree went through, Matter is also preserving the Senator's charred layers of his creations.
"The bottom of each piece is signed by me, and listed the Senator from 1500 B.C. to 2012," said Matter.
For more about the Senator woodwork, click here.