Sacred Oak of Oley Valley inspires local artist

The Sacred Oak casts are available online through Linda Lori’s Etsy store.
The Sacred Oak casts are available online through Linda Lori’s Etsy store. Courtesy of Linda Lori
The Sacred Oak of Oley is more than 500 years old. The tree, now on private property, opens to the public twice a year.
The Sacred Oak of Oley is more than 500 years old. The tree, now on private property, opens to the public twice a year. Photo courtesy of Beth Burkovich

The Sacred Oak of the Historic Oley Valley, a non-native Chinkapin Oak, is more than 500 years old. It is located below Oley Valley Middle School along Friedensberg Road. The area opens to the public twice a year. The next public visitation is June 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Local artisan Linda Lori has recently been inspired by the tree. Lori makes leaf castings from the leaves of the Scared Oak. These castings are then sold as pendants.

Here’s a brief question/answer we had with Lori.

How long have you been doing leaf castings?

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I have been making leaf casts for a little over two years. Concrete casting was something I had wanted to try for over 10 years. Then one day, I walked outside and found this huge, amazing leaf growing through my fence. I had never seen such a leaf before. It had to be a sign. And within a week and a crash course in everything concrete, I had cast my first leaf. I fell in love.

When did you discover the Sacred Oak?

I guess I have to say it discovered me. I got a call one day from a friend who told me about the Sacred Oak’s upcoming public visitation. After researching the tree’s history, I knew I just had to cast its leaves. I had no idea what they looked like or how big they were but it didn’t matter.

Why did you decide to cast its leaves?

Every designer has their favorites. This is one of mine. Although I cast other leaves, the Sacred Oak’s historic significance makes these casts very special. Besides the fact that no two leaves are alike, these are the leaves from the actual ancestral Sacred Native American tree that is quite possibly over 500 years old. That’s as good as it gets for me. I take little credit though. Nature is the real designer here.

How has the experience been so far? Is it something you think you’ll continue to do?

Aside from the fact that I love playing in the mud, it has been an experience of a lifetime. I will continue to make the Sacred Oak leaf casts as long as there are people who want them.

Why did you decide to donate a percentage of proceeds to the tree?

I guess it has to do with gratitude. The public is still allowed visit the tree twice a year and this is my way of giving something back for that amazing opportunity.

The costs related to maintaining the health and safety of the tree are ongoing and considering the size of the tree, the costs are pretty hefty.

For every cast pendant sold, I donate $10 to help aid in the tree’s preservation efforts.

Do you know what the funds are used for?

The Oley Supervisors have a fund for the tree that the money goes into. Arborists determine what the tree needs each year and so far, the tree appears to be in great shape. I also produce another line of leaf castings which helps raise money for local women’s charities and are sold at: It’s a Gift, in West Reading.

You mentioned you made pendants for the Sacred Oak Group, when did you do that?

I had contacted the Sacred Oak administration on their Facebook page a few days before the 2015 fall visitation. I basically just messaged her with my idea and she loved it. So, off to the tree I went not knowing what or how this could work, but there’s no such word as can’t, right?

How many Sacred Oak-inspired items have you made?

The most popular of any of my Sacred Oak casts are the pendants. These come on a rolled leather chain and are packaged with a little booklet with a brief the history of the tree. I also make other custom casts with larger leaves and have put those in vintage frames and on old wood.

And, you mentioned an essential oil product you’re working on?

Yes, recently, I was asked to design wearable aromatherapy diffusers. I had no idea such an animal existed. Turns out they are awesome. So, I decided to add a Sacred Oak diffuser to the line. Although the surface of the pendant has the authentic leaf imprint, it is not as detailed as the castings are. However, pieces of the actual Sacred Oak leaf are mixed in with the natural mineral clay pendant. I have just released these for sale as a gift set that includes a sample of a therapeutic essential oil to put on your leaf pendant.

Where are these items available?

The Sacred Oak casts are only sold through my Etsy store right now and my other leaf casts are sold in West Reading at: It’s a Gift. I intend to try some local upcoming craft shows. You can visit the Sacred Oak facebook page for the direct link or go to Etsy and search Linda Flora Design.

Linda Lori currently resides in Bern Township; she has lived in Berks County for the past eight years.

About the Author

Rebecca Blanchard

Rebecca won't hesitate to tell you that she has enjoyed writing throughout her entire life. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she graduated from the professional writing program of Kutztown University in 2012. Rebecca joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in July of 2012 as editor of The Boyertown Area Times following her internship with the newspaper. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling and cooking gluten-free foods. Reach the author at rblanchard@berksmontnews.com or follow Rebecca on Twitter: @boyertowntimes.