Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Color Are Leaves?

Striped Leaves
For most of my childhood my definition of heaven was a box of crayons and a coloring book.  When I started first grade my parents splurged and gifted me with my first Crayola 64 box with the built in crayon sharpener.  I remember pulling each crayon out, reading the names, and lining them all up by color.  I loved each and everyone. 

In 1966, in Miami, Florida, on an especially nice afternoon, Sister Christine took the first grade class outside.  She sat us all in circle under a large banyan tree.  She stood in the middle of the circle and held up a crayon drawing of a tree; a brown rectangle topped by three green cotton ball shapes. She then handed each of us a piece of white craft paper and asked us to draw a tree.  Now, I was more of a coloring book type of kid.  I like choosing the colors and staying inside the lines.  I wasn't particularly interested in drawing my own pictures.  (Maybe that's why today I love to buy other designer's patterns and subscribe to BOM's.)  I copied the basic drawing, the rectangle trunk and the cotton ball shaped leave clusters.  I filled in the shapes using every color in my box - all 64 colors!  I remember feeling quite proud of my drawing.  I also remember Sister Christine's shadow falling over my paper and the paper being ripped from my hands.  She held the drawing up to the class and said "Children, please look at this drawing.  This is a perfect example of not listening to your teacher and not following directions."  Then the drawing was torn into several small pieces.  I was given another blank sheet and asked to do the assignment again but this time correctly.  But, we were sitting under a tree!  Couldn't Sister Christine see the colors were all there?  That my drawing was accurate?  Didn't she know that leaves were red and black and orange and brown and pink with only a tiny bit of green?  The trunk was dark red and purple and yellow - see!  I guess she didn't because she didn't accept my assignment until I turned in a brown trunk topped with exactly three, green, cotton boll shapes.

Polka Dot Leaves
Fast forward 45 years. I am here to say, without fear of another unsatisfactory mark in conduct on my report card, LEAVE ARE NOT JUST GREEN and TREE TRUNKS ARE NOT JUST BROWN.  The photo at the top of the blog is of a bromiliad with zebra striped leaves- how cool is that?  How about the polka dot leaves on the right?  They are yellow green with white polka dots on the top of the leaf and bright magenta on the underside of the leaf.

Below is one of my favorite trees in our local botanical garden.  It's a camouflage tree.  The photo does not do it justice.  It is shades of blue, grey, pink, yellow, etc.

Camouflage Tree

Use your imagination and use your stash.  Use the colors, textures, patterns, prints, values, and scale that speaks to your heart and eye.  Make sure that what you stitch brings you joy.  Isn't that why we all started to quilt in the first place? 

Potential Leaf Fabric

I recently took a quick trip to a local quilt shop and  found some interesting fabrics to use for leaves.  My guidelines for buying fabric is "If you love it buy it"  and "If you use enough variety of fabrics, they all go together" 

This was specifically an applique fabric finding trip.  I found water fabric, sail fabric for a clipper ship. a great red for berries, lace print, very small checks, and multi-colored ric rac for gathered flowers.  My chauffeur ( and wonderful husband) fell in love with the Superman fabric.  I will make a couple of pillowcases for his man cave. 
Quilt Shop Finds

20 1/2 Inch Square Ruler

However, the FIND of the trip was a 20-1/2 inch square ruler.  Unless you are an appliquer you can't appreciate the pure joy of this find.  I am a Baltimore style applique enthusiast.  The original blocks were in a large scale - 18 inch to 20 inch or more finished size.  I also like to have the option of a larger scale block.  For 2 years I have been working on a quilt made up of 13 - 18 inch blocks set on point.  I have had more than one sleepless night fretting about how I was going to square up and trim a block that size (on point) when the largest square ruler I had ever found locally was 16-1/2 inches.  I actually did a happy dance right in the store. 

Here are a few more photos from our local botanical garden.  I find them very inspiring. 

Until next time,

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

Lucy and Ethel

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