Tree Book #3: Island Oak

February 28, 2012

Island Oak - Two Views

Island Oak - Two Views

Two views of the same ancient Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) from Nags Head Woods on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  A third view would have completed the circle and showed the jagged blades of wood in the hollow trunk, but it was impossible to get a photo from that direction, since the tree is growing next to a swamp thicket.

This is one of the illustrations for the Lichen Oracle.  I don’t intend to illustrate every glyph (that would defeat the purpose of the oracle, and limit it too much) but the story that goes with them will need a few pictures.  This important tree also inspired one of the glyphs.

An ancient live oak anchors the heart of the island.  Its hollow trunk is filled with snakes and snails, and booms like a drum.  The surface of the wood is storm-polished where the bark has worn away.  It feels cool and hard, like a river boulder.  The heavy branches arch overhead, some broken and rotting, others still sparkling with leaves and acorns.  Water-filled branch scars hold reflections of jellyfish.  A sea turtle skull, round and white as the full moon, lies deep below the oldest roots.  Rain and starlight fall through the empty trunk and wash like waves over the dreaming bone.

Lichen Glyph of Acient Oak Tree

Lichen Glyph of Acient Oak Tree

Advertisements

I received my Spoonflower fabric order yesterday, which was mostly black and white cat drawings for a wall hanging.  But I also had two designs printed in color.  All the designs were printed on Kona quilter’s cotton.  The swatches are 8×8 inches.

The first swatch is a collage made from four digital photos of copper ore boulders from the mines at Helvetia, Arizona.  Minerals shown in the photos include malachite, chrysocolla, turquoise, iron oxides, etc.  I was quite happy with this and may try a few other colorful rock textures for jewelry bags, spreadcloths, etc.  This one will probably end up on an embroidered cloth for protecting and displaying copper jewelry.

Copper Ore Photos on Cotton Fabric
Copper Ore Photos on Cotton Fabric

The second swatch is a design based on the flowers and pods of Lacepod (Thysanocarpus curvipes), one of our early spring desert wildflowers.  The white flowers are nearly invisible, and the tiny seedpods are only a quarter inch long.  The pods on the fabric design are one inch wide.  The photo shows the fabric on the left and the actual plant (with nearly-ripe pods) on the right.  This swatch will probably end up on an embroidered jewelry bag.

Lacepod with Fabric

Lacepod with Fabric

Spoonflower’s printing process allows for crisp, accurate reproduction of extremely detailed designs.  Unfortunately, it isn’t durable enough to stand up to repeated washing, which makes it unsuitable for everyday clothing, at least for me.  It’s fine for costumes, vests, decorator quilts, and other items that won’t (often) be washed.

Tree Book

Tree Book

Two more Tree Book pencil drawings:  On the left is Petrophytum caespitosum, Rockmat or Dwarf Spiraea.  It’s essentially a miniature tree, only about six inches tall.  It is primarily a Rocky Mountain plant, rare in southern Arizona, where it is restricted to ridgetop outcrops of pure limestone and marble in the Huachuca, Whetstone, and Empire Mountains.  The drawing shows most of a weathered dead plant, drawn life size.  The living plant has rosettes of tiny leaves at the branch tips, and clusters of tiny white flowers that resemble those of its close relative, Ceanothus.

Photos of this species can be seen here:

http://www.mineralarts.com/cactus/graptopetalum.html

The drawing on the right is an American beech, Fagus americana, with exposed roots clinging to a clay creekbank.  I drew this from a color snapshot that I took in about 1985.  It’s in a small wooded creek valley in the northern Virginia neighborhood where I grew up.  I played in the creek as a child.  In high school I went there nearly every afternoon, and the woods became my refuge and a place to learn and explore.  This tree’s roots shaded a pool where a tiny ravine drained into the winding creek.  There were many such trees in that place.  Their nets of smooth bluish-gray roots, interlaced like fingers or rope, hung cavelike over a trickle of brown water and gravel bars of white quartz pebbles.