Messages of hope from one of Edith Deltgen’s prior projects.

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By Connie Leinbach

Edith Deltgen feels your pain and invites you to reach out with messages of hope on Ocracoke trees.

An artist in Columbia, Tyrrell County, Deltgen will create her “Living Trees” project in The Magic Bean Coffee Bazaar yard on School Road from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 24 and 25, in which messages of hope are written on fabric strips and tied to trees.

Deltgen will bring thousands of fabric strips for the project in which everyone is invited to participate–to help decorate the trees, staple fabric strips and write messages. She is looking for volunteers to help with the project and those interested should show up at the Magic Bean on both days.

The finished trees will be on view until June 30, and attendees at the Ocrafolk Festival June 1 to 3 will have the chance to view them and add their own messages.

The messages can be anything anyone wants to share.

Hailing from Cologne, Germany, Deltgen is reeling from the deaths of her three children in the last five years.

Her son, Rene, died in March from complications stemming from a head injury 12 years ago. Two years ago, another son died from what Deltgen thinks may have been drug poisoning due to addiction, and before that, five years ago, her daughter died from cancer.

Edith Deltgen looks through some of the fabric to be used in the Living Trees project at the Magic Bean Coffee Bazaar May 24 and 25. Photo: C. Leinbach

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I started the Living Trees because I couldn’t take it anymore.”

To raise awareness and pull together as a community, the Living Tree project is a way for her and anyone else to share their pain.

“(Addiction) affects so many people,” she said. “Everyone has something. This project is so people have an outlet for their outrage and pain.”

In the first project in 2016, Deltgen and volunteers from Columbia and the Pocosin Art Center cut over 800 pieces of fabric, distributed them to many places around Columbia, and then decorated trees at Christmas along the riverfront.

It was such a success that last year Deltgen did the same project at the gazebo in Swan Quarter.  Students, business owners, residents and even inmates and employees of the Tyrrell County prison/work farm participated with messages on fabric.

Deltgen is looking for the same participation from any and all. She has already gotten messages for the Ocracoke project from several governmental and social service agencies and Hyde County prison inmates.

The fabric pieces from the Columbia and Swan Quarter projects weren’t discarded. Deltgen transformed them into collages that she hopes to have on view on Ocracoke.

“I just ironed about 1,000 pieces of fabric from the Swan Quarter project, reread them, cried some more,” Deltgen said.

To read last year’s story about the Swan Quarter project, click here.


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