Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Leaf and Human Printing

I went into the little patch of woods behind my house this morning.  I needed woods.  For a minute or two it was blissful and then the sounds of a lawn tractor and a cart, a chain saw, a car with some sort of customization to make it sound like Formula 1 racing, people shouting above the noise of this car and then a jet flew overhead, any illusion of my solitude was shattered.  It was the weekend and everyone was about and everyone had a loud machine.

I had a day pretty much to myself, my husband and daughter had left very early to volunteer at an event.  I considered heading to an art museum, but then I decided that I needed to do the creating myself.  Since we bought the house I have been playing with the idea of integrating leaf prints from the yard/woods trees into the kitchen in some way.  To do this, first I must try a bunch of methods to see what would work best with the space.  I'll end up with extra stuff and probably some  hideous pieces, but the fun is in creating, experimenting.

I pulled out watercolor paper and  prepped it for painting, which meant that it would be ready the next day.  I needed to do something, so I grabbed some rectangles of hardboard that I had been holding onto for a while.  I decided that I would use spray paint.  I wanted the leaves to appear green on the boards, so I painted them varying shades of green with paint left over from my search for the perfect color for my dining table.  Each board had three shades of green blended in different ways. 

I returned to the woods to choose my leaves.  I was seeking a variety of shapes and sizes to make the project more interesting. I decided pawpaw was a must, spicebush was next, then wild dogwood and then there was one mystery tree that I had yet to identify.  With my handy field guide, I determined that I had a box elder tree, a member of the maple family with sap that can be turned into syrup, good to know.

With hand pruners, I collected my samples.  I climbed out of the little ravine into the sunshine, took a few steps and went sprawling on the ground.  I was so wrapped up in my project that I forgot about the sunken spot where we buried the chickens and ducks that died in the coop fire. (see Painting Over the Memory, January 2013).   (I had been filling it up with leaves and such, but my daughter became upset, because she wanted to be able to see where they were buried, so she raked out the leaves.)  I found myself on the ground with my face in the grass right next to the leaf samples I had been carrying.  The shears had flown out of my hand and were three feet away. The moles and voles that plague the yard had done me a huge favor, the ground was pretty soft.  Instead of leaf prints, I had made a giant human print in the soil.  After a few moments of wiggling fingers, toes, arms and ankles to check for correct operation, I stood hoping that the ache in my ankle was temporary.  All was well. A couple of the leaves were damaged, but there were plenty to complete the project.  I brushed most of the soil off my jeans and continued on.

I had seen a pin on Pinterest where someone had used colored backgrounds and gold paint to create stencils of leaves, so I thought I would try my version.  I laid out some leaves on each board, sprayed two with black paint and two with silver paint.  The result was underwhelming. I decided to try another layer of different leaves and using silver on the black and black on silver.  Better, but not quite there, I needed a little more green, so I did another layer, and on some boards yet another.  They did not come out anything like I thought they would, but in some way they do capture the feel of the woods.  I'm not sure about their future in relationship to my kitchen decor.  I'm going to have to stare at them for a while.


The garden year is pretty well over, there are a few things out there, but it mostly looks bedraggled.  I photographed (with my daughter's camera) the best of what's left and the huge diversity of cool looking mushrooms (if anyone can ID any of them that would be great!).

Joseph's Coat Rose, they aren't at all like the pictures in the catalog.

Love the color of this zinnia.

Aji Cito, a pepper that has a lemony background flavor and a kick in the pants.

Figs that are growing too high for the chickens to nab.


Our lonely persimmon, almost ready to eat.

 Now for the mushrooms, they grow in two areas of the yard.

These are everywhere in this area.

Slimy looking things.

These are cute.

Strange, slimy and funky yellow.

Blue/green tinge in this one.

    These are huddled together, the tall green stuff is chives.  Locally they call it onion grass because it grows in everyone's lawns. It smells like you have been chopping onions when you mow.

These grow in a fairy ring, that doesn't photograph well.

Fuzzy looking mushrooms.

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