I’m so excited to share with you this month’s theme for Art Elements blog. Drumroll please… it’s “The Forest”! Those who have followed my blog for any length of time will know of my deep and abiding love for the forest. It is my favorite place in all the world to be. I’ve been blessed to live among the evergreen forests of the Rocky Mountains and the deciduous forests of Indiana. They couldn’t be more different from each other, but both are beautiful. Forests restore my soul in a way that no other type of environment can. I love their peacefulness, the shelter of the tree branches overhead, the tiny creeping green things that fill the understory, and all the animals that make their home in this rich and fascinating ecosystem. I’m definitely a nemophilist – a haunter or lover of the forest. Most weekends will find me flitting under the shadow of trees, hunting mushrooms, admiring wildflowers, and chasing sun rays.
The first project I’ll share with you pays homage to the forest with a series of quotes.
Making these actually was an afterthought as late one night I was browsing facebook and saw a tutorial for doing mock watercolor backgrounds. I thought it was worth a try and used an app on my ipad to create a series of quotes which I printed out on watercolor paper. I used inks smeared on a plastic bag and spritzed with water to create the watercolor backgrounds. After drying I stamped trees and leaves and framed them. I was pleased with how fun and easy this technique was and really like the handlettered style as well. I think I see a lot more of these in my future, but for now I’ll enjoy these prints on my windowsill.
Of course, I also wanted to make some hand-stamped cards. I have so many forest-related stamps that for a while I was stumped on what to do because there were so many choices. I eventually decided on woodland animals.
I used a collection of stamps from Unity Stamp Company for this collection and patterned papers from Prima. I hadn’t originally planned on this color scheme, but once I started the images seemed happiest with teal, green, and dark brown tones. I think they look right at home in a forest surrounded by leaves and little wildflowers. I especially enjoyed pairing the quotes with the animals.
I was both delighted and daunted by the theme and this was no where more apparent than when I approached my jewelry designs. I wanted to create pieces that were not only inspired by the forest but invoked the same feelings of longing and piercing joy that I feel when I’m wrapped in the forest’s embrace – things that looked like they might have sprouted up from the roots of magical grove. After each piece I wanted to create more and so I ended up with a collection of five necklaces and matching earrings. And trust me, I really had to be firm with myself after five because my mind is still busily coming up with ideas for new designs.
In keeping with the forest animal theme, may I introduce the “Woodsy Association”?
This necklace features a crew of woodland creatures – fox, hare, racoon, squirrel, and hedgehog. The pendant is from Grubbi Ceramics and to complement it, I chose moss agate and wood beads, accented with shell and hematite spacers. The necklace is finished off with wide leather lace. And the earrings are also from Grubbi – these show off a duo of mischievous squirrels – an awful lot like the ones that frolic on my back deck.
Another pendant by Grubbi Ceramics inspired this nighttime view of the forest, which I call “Midnight in the Forest”. In this monochromatic scene, a stag in a forest is illuminated by a moon while a raven flies overhead.
I used a strand of fancy cut grey agate beads for this necklace. I had bought them a couple of years ago at a bead show and was thrilled with how perfectly they worked with the pendant. Tarnished silver spaces add a touch of understated glimmer, much light moonlight on a dark forested landscape. The earrings are made with a pair of raven charms accented with grey stone agate and Czech beads. I’d like to think Edgar Allen Poe would feel a certain kinship with this set.
From animals, I moved to musings on the benefits of the forest to the human spirit. Throughout history mankind has recognized the importance of wild places for the health of civilization as well as the individual. They are safe havens, away from the noise and distraction of technology where we can rest in quiet, reorient our priorities, and marvel at God’s creation. One of the most eloquent spokesmen for the spiritual revitalization of wilderness was John Muir, who played an irreplaceable role in the establishment of the National Park System. This necklace is an homage to the “Wilderness Prophet” as he was nicknamed.
“Into the Forest” pairs earthy colors of citrine with warm brass branch and accent beads to set off a ceramic pendant with Muir’s famous quote “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul”. The earrings are long leafy designs with a bohemian flair. Delicate citrine beads sit atop little verdigris brass leaves swaying on lengths of chain – much like leaves would dance from their branches in the forest.
In my preparation for this blog, I ran across this unique word – “Werifesteria” and it means “to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery”. It is a modern word, first recorded in 2014. I think it’s wonderful that in this age when many forest/nature-related words are being lost from our vocabulary, a new word is emerging. It eloquently describes how I feel in the forest – I especially like how it emphasizes the longing aspect of being out in nature. I thought it was the perfect name for this next creation.
This Grubbi ceramic pendant is handlettered with the quote from Nancy Newhall: “The wilderness holds answers to questions we have not yet learned to ask”. I paired the pendant with a polymer clay bird from Humblebeads and a ceramic twig bead that I made. The quote and dark mauve bird suggested a brooding thoughtfulness to me, and I played off that by incorporating dark, moody tones of tourmaline into the chain. I created an ombre effect from burgundy, to golden brown, green, and black. Tourmaline is one of my favorite stones to work with – I love its multi hues and it’s darker take on natural colors. The earrings are made from Grubbi floral charms accented with tourmaline and a delicate brass leaf dangling below.
My final set is called “Understory” and it may be my favorite. I paired the enameled fern focal and beads a while ago for another design that never fully materialized. Knowing it would be perfect for the theme, I revisited the fern and reworked the design to be a tribute to the fascinating understory of the forest. Here in the magical world where ferns and mushrooms and moss dwell, there are always tiny wonders to behold. I spend the majority of my walks in the forest with my eyes glued to what treasures I can find on the forest floor. And more often than not, I’m on my hands and knees to capture its beauty with my camera. This necklace is filled with the jewel tones of moss, rich browns of fertile soil, and the delicate flash of a butterfly wing – all of which awaits you when you enjoy the microcosm of the forest.
The beads were not labeled, which is a pity because I’d love to find more. They are faceted and several of them are mottled with white veining. The enameled fern is from Gardanne Beads and I love the dark speckles on the frond – just like you’d find in the forest! The earrings are made with buffed warm brass butterflies dangling from matching beads and trailing waxed linen cords behind them.
I hope you have enjoyed exploring the mysteries and miracles of the forest with me. And perhaps you’re inspired now to answer the call of the forest and find an adventure of your own!
This is part of a blog hop so please visit these other lovely blogs for more forest inspiration!
Blessings to you,