A is for Apple Tree

… and for the last name of the recipients of this piece!  I am SO excited about this one, not because it’s perfect (far from it), but because I tried something NEW and really enjoyed it!  Let me start at the beginning…

A friend of mine wanted a quilled gift for her in-laws and her only request was the it would have something to do with the letter A—other than that, she sort of let me do whatever I wanted.  I mulled over ideas for close to 2 weeks before deciding on what you see below.  My first thought was to locate the coat of arms attached to the family’s English surname and base something on that; however, I quickly realized that, due to the exceptionally ornate qualities of the coats of arms I found, it would be difficult and time consuming to translate them into quilling.  So I simplified.  I noticed that all of the coat of arms I found featured the color blue—further research taught me that blue in an English coats of arms stands for truth and loyalty.  I liked that, so I decided that I would incorporate that color by simply making the background blue.  A blue background also reminds me of the sky, which reminds me of outside, which reminds me of trees.  And, if you have read just about any other post on this blog, you will know that I love to quill trees.  So that is how I came to my 2nd big thought on how to do this project… lucky me, this family’s surname is also the name of a town in England, which is in a region known as Cambridgeshire, and upon researching Cambridgeshire, apple orchards were mentioned so I just went with that.  Perfect… A’s all over the place and it’s still a way to reflect their family’s roots!

I started to sketch out some designs, but even with the blue background and the apple tree, the thing was still falling flat on reflecting any real meaning.  That is when I took it one step further and thought not just about this family, but about “family” in general.  For some reason, when I think of family, I think of seasons… is that just me?  Surely I’m not the only one.  Seasons, to me, represent the passage of time, it’s cyclical, and each season is beautiful in its own way.  I have a hard time expressing exactly why all of this, in my mind, metaphorically links to the idea of family, but it does.  Where I am originally from, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the biggest indicator of seasonal change is the trees, so that’s what I decided to use for this piece–an apple trees in each of the 4 seasons.  As you can see, and this is where the NEW part comes in, all the quilling takes place inside of the letter.  I got this idea from the website some famous quiller in the U.K. named Yulia (yeah… a famous quiller, at least it looks like quilling.  To see why she is famous, visit this site—http://www.artyulia.com/).  Anyway… building the A was tedious.  Ridiculous, actually, and, even with all of the tedium, it didn’t turn out as well as I would’ve hoped, but it worked.  I think. I kick myself for not getting photos of the constructing of the A… I used more pins and glue than you can imagine, and I’m pretty sure that’s not how Yulia does it.  Anyway (again)… once the A was built, the rest was a dream!  It was actually wonderful to have such a confined space reserved for quilling.  I wanted it to most definitely look like it was the same tree reflected in all seasons, so I dedicated the more narrow side of the letter A to the trunk.  Neither the trunk or the branches were quilled (tsk-tsk, I know!); instead, I cut them out of brown cardstock and just glued ’em on.  It was, again, wonderful.  Quilled trunks and branches are fun for me, but also scary because anything can happen… I sort just let the quilling do what it’s going to do in that situation, but when all I’m doing is cutting pieces out of cardstock, I’m in control.  The branches are a single layer of paper, the trunk is multiple layers to give it a rougher look and texture.  Then, as you can see, I depicted the seasons in order starting at the top with spring—apple blossoms, sparser  and more lightly-colored leaves; then summer—full, red apples, fuller and darker leaves; autumn—leaves changing color, becoming more sparse; finally, winter–bare, snow-covered branches.  The last thing I added to the piece, of course, were 2 singing bluebirds, to represent happiness and freedom.  I could go more into the actual quilling techniques and whatnot, but since I’ve already done enough talking here, I’ll let the photos do the rest: