I hadn’t quilled trees in a long time before this project and had missed them very much. That’s why there are a zillion photos with this post. Enthusiasm.
This order was for the same family who ordered the “Family Fun” piece. That piece was for the mother and this piece if for her oldest daughter. The request was for a tree and a butterfly (to represent the daughter). The tree, it was suggested, could be inspired from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. And it was… kind of. All the same, I was very pleased with how it turned out. It has a very simple look to it, and I really like the color added by the blossoms. There is quite a bit more open space (I can’t remember what the “artistic” term for that is) than usual, which was intentional.
The trunk is basically a bunch of marquee rolls all squished together. I line the sides of the trunk with a single strip of paper just to smooth out the appearance. The leaves are also marquee rolls, I think they were mostly 4″ strips, 1/8″ wide. I used 3 shades of green for the leaves and 2 shades of brown for the trunk. The blossoms were mostly 1″ tight coils. Honestly, this is a piece a beginner could make… the shapes are very basic and the creative options (i.e., the shape of the tree, how to place leaves, blossoms, bluebirds, etc.) are endless. This was a very fun piece to quill and I look forward to doing more trees in the future.
The photos show the piece from just about every angle. I blurred out some of the birthday for the sake of privacy.
A friend was inspired by another piece I had done for a wedding and wanted me to design something similar for her mom for Mother’s Day. She wanted elements in the piece to symbolize those connected to her mother—her children, grandchildren, and children-in-law (those who had married her children)—and she requested that the theme work around a tree. If you’ve read my other posts, you know how much I love to do trees, so I was very glad for this opportunity!
You can see the design and colors in the photos, so I will limit myself to explaining how I decided on the symbolism throughout the piece. I should add that this is my friend’s stepmother, who has loved and supported her as a mother (I can relate being a totally loved stepchild myself); I think this makes the symbolism all the more meaningful. The tree represents who the mother is to her family, complete with swirling branches that reach right off of the page, to show the immeasruable vastness of the influence of her love on her family and on future generations. The long, rugged roots represent the strong foundation she has laid for her family. The 7 apples on the tree represent her 7 children… who have grown directly under her care and support. The 4 bluebirds on the tree represent the 4 spouses of her children… they have not come directly from the tree, but have joined the scene happily and make the picture more beautiful and complete. The 5 saplings springing up from the ground below, of course, represent the next generation—her 5 grandchildren—thriving under the shade and protection of the tree. Each sapling is topped with a small, white heart to represent the special blessing the newest generation has inherited, being born into such a loving and supportive family. Finally, the butterfly—a perfect picture of the connectivity of changes and crises that occur throughout a lifetime that result in something unspeakably complex, delicate, and beautiful.
I’ve gotten two quilled pieces done this week—that has to be some sort of record for me given that, as much as I love quilling, I often find more meaningless ways to fill my time. Say, with cleaning or cooking… or, um, putzing on Facebook. I’m very excited about the latest because I’ve sort of been setting up the whole thing in my head for quite some time. The quilled portion measures about 4″x6″ and features a tree “blossoming” with hearts throughout its swirling leaves and 3 sweet little bluebirds, two of which of happily perched on the message, which reads “Love grows here.” Though I made the piece to sell on Etsy, I may have to make a 2nd one for myself—I’m really quite pleased with the outcome. It feels very clean and simple to me, but still colorful and fun.
My trees have been such a blast to make that I am a little sad when the piece doesn’t call for one (fortunately, this one did!). The technique is one I made up and I feel it gives my pieces a bit of character. I start with strips in 3 different shades of brown, which I roll into marquise of different sizes (that’s a loose coil which is pinched on both ends, sort of giving it an almond shape). Then I glue the marquise all together to form the trunk—they just kind of go together willy-nilly—I don’t really have a plan when I start, which is why no two trees will ever be the same. As I glue the trunk pieces together, I pinch them into each other to fill any gaps. I may include a small branch coming off the trunk here and there; you know, whatever feels right. I like to give my trees obvious roots coming off the bottom because there’s a lot of symbolism in it—plus, that’s often just how trees look! The leaves are simply open, loose coils of different sizes and in 2 or 3 shades of green. They, too, are placed wherever they want to go. I often go 2-3 layers deep in some areas of the tree—and I keep rolling coils and adding them until the tree tells me it is complete. Since I love to add color—you’ll usually see some sort of fruit or flowers (or hearts!) in my trees, but mostly just toward the bottom of the leaves. When we picked apples at my grandma’s house as a child, I remember that the only apples I could really see were those peeking out from the bottom of the mass of leaves—so that’s how it looks in my quilling too.
Lastly, my birds. Nature’s birds dazzle me, and quilling them is a joy. They are the simplest things to make (just a loose coil manipulated into a bird shape by pinching one end while pushing upward w/ a flat finger on the other end, add a tiny beak—done!) and they just add so much life to a piece. They make me smile—I hope they make the recipient smile as well.
YAY! I just finished my latest QUILLING project, which was to decorate a KETUBAH for a COUPLE who live in CANADA! I’m QUITE excited about it… CAN you tell? (I promise, the all-caps on words with onset “K” stops here). 🙂
A ketubah is, basically, a Jewish marriage contract. I got the job through Etsy and really enjoyed it because I had a lot of creative freedom (their only requests were that there was a “Tree of Life” and lots of color involved), plus it was really an honor to get to quill something that will be displayed in this couple’s home for the rest of their lives (so I’m told). It was also really cool because, as I was sketching out what I would quill, the shape the sketch took became somewhat metaphorical: The tree itself represents their marriage, flourishing and far-reaching (you’ll notice there is a root coming off the bottom of the tree that extends quite far, indicating strength and a firm foundation); there are two small hearts near the section where the bride and groom will sign the document–hearts, of course, referring to love (hey… I said it was cool, not necessarily profound). The 5 saplings growing beneath the tree are symbolic of the abundance of good that will come forth from the household–whatever that may be.
The couple really liked the whole symbolism thing, which I shared with them, and really got on board with some suggestions of their own. They wanted pomegranates because pomegranate seeds are said to number 613—one for each of the Bible’s 613 commandments; it was revered for the beauty of its shrub, flowers, and fruit–symbolising sanctity, fertility, and abundance. They chose to include the number 10, which is a symbol of good luck and power–and there are 10 commandments. Finally, they also included the number 7, which is one of the greatest power numbers in Judaism, representing Creation, good fortune, and blessing. Good stuff! So, anyway, I incorporated these things by placing 10 pomegranates throughout 7 branches on the tree. I’ve included some photos from start to finish.