Friday, February 28, 2014

In the Middle there were Ginkgoes

The designing continues for this quilt. Over the last year or two I have been trying to use the ginkgo leaf in different ways. We last left the quilt with 2 ducks and some cattails and things were looking up.  The design phase wasn't complete, I just needed to tweak it a little more.
A few lily pads would fill the space without competing too much with the ducks.

I cut the lily pads from a hand painted green that I had painted several years ago.  There is a soft contrast between the cattails and the green pads.  I like the way it is looking.  And in the meantime, I've moved the lily pads here and there at least 10 times.
The pads cried out for a lily, so I made one out of white fabric and fused a bright yellow center. Oh yes, this is good.  Well, maybe one more flower is needed.
One more tiny lily has been placed in the upper left corner.  It will be moved around many times before it ends up in the right place.

Is it done?

Ann Fahl

Friday, February 21, 2014

In the Beginning there were Ginkgoes

Isn't this amazing?  Here is the background for my most recent piece, the above masterpiece was about 25 x 25 inches. 

Here's my vision for this small piece: a blue ginkgo leaf would become a pond for several mallard ducks. I thought the green would make a soft background for the blue leaf, with a simple pieced rectangle border added. The border would add some interest but not conflict with the central scene.

So I cut a large leaf 18 inches wide and placed it in the center of the background.
So far, so good, there is nothing to dislike about what I had done, so I painstakingly fabricated the two ducks out of multiple brown fabrics.
But I'm not happy with the relationship of the leaf to the background, it looks to small.  So I removed two edges of the border and made it smaller. It is now 22 x 22 inches.  I wanted the blue piece to overlap the border.
Then I decided I didn't like the first blue leaf, and cut a new one out of Frieda Anderson's hand dyed fabric.  I like this better because of the subtle shifts of color.
Now with the ducks resting in their new pond, I like the relationship of all the parts.  But it looks very empty.  What do I add next?
Cattails seemed to be a good addition and would work with my watery theme.  I cut them out of a piece of paper to decide on size and scale.  Their verticality was a nice contrast to the horizontal feeling of the large leaf and ducks.
Using a bright green for the leaves and tan for the cattails, I carefully cut out 3 clumps of cattails.  And I think this is good.  At this point, all the elements are only pinned in place.  I never fuse until the entire quilt top is all laid out, and I am sure it is good. I'm not sure what will happen next. It's not quite complete.

Tune in next week to learn more about this wall quilt.

Ann Fahl

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Little Ginkgo History

Photo of ginkgo leaves from wikipedia

My love of the ginkgo leaf comes from my long history with Winona Lake IN.  But the tree itself has a much looonger history.  The tree has been in existence since the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, or 270 million years.  They have lived to see the dinosaurs live and die, and watched the evolution of plant and animal life up to the present day. There is no other plant like the ginkgo in existence today

It is the only tree that gets its water and sends it through one waterway up the trunk, instead of many small xylem and phloem inside the bark that modern trees use to deliver water and nutrients.  This is one reason why the leaf has such an interesting shape, different than all the others.

It is admired for its beauty, perhaps beginning in ancient China; used for medicinal purposes and as a food source. For a plant that is so old it has characteristics that have repopularized it today. It can be found in many urban settings, not just pampered gardens.  It can be very adaptive and disease resistant, which makes it perfect for roadside planting.
Everything is a little different with the ginkgo tree, even the way the leaves are attached to the limbs.

Here is an actual photo of one of my special trees.
These trees are very slow growers. I can only imagine the joy that people must feel if they have one growing near them.  The 2 ginkgoes at the swan pond were most likely planted about 1890, which would make them about 120 years old. This is the only photo I have of them.   

Another interesting fact is that in the fall, the leaves turn bright yellow, and most of them drop off the tree within 24 hours. So provide yourself with a lifetime of joy and plant a ginkgo tree.  Make sure you get a male variety because the females produce a very stinky fruit about the size of a cherry!

Or better yet, find a leaf and put it in one of your quilts!

Ginkgoes Galore, a quilt by Ann Fahl
 Ann Fahl

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ginkgo Leaves, the Symbol of my Quilting Spirit

Winona Lake Commemorative,  quilt by Ann Fahl  22 x 18 inches

I'm still working on my red and green tulip quilt, only one block remains to be re-appliqued. As I've been finishing this huge project,  I've been thinking about what I should blog about next.  One of my favorite images is that of a ginkgo leaf, perhaps one of the most beautiful in nature.

Leaves and trees are very special in my life.  My grandmother planted a maple tree at the cottage, about the time I was born, this tree and I have grown up together, I won't tell you how big the tree is today!  My husband and I live in the woods and we enjoy all the wonderful benefits of living among the trees.  One of my favorite spots in the word is the swan pond at Winona Lake IN.
A view of the swan pond at Winona Lake

A young man once pointed out to me, the 2 huge old ginkgo trees on one side of that swan pond. I was amazed at the lovely shape of the leaves as I had never seen them before.  I took some leaves home that were lying on the ground; and the rest is history.  I've tried to use a ginkgo leaf in as many quilts as possible.  Without realizing it, I had chosen the shape as one of my personal symbols of my life.

Class sample of embroidered leaves
It didn't take long for me to realize that adding free-motion embroidery to a fused leaf, made it come to life in such a beautiful realistic way.  So I'll be writing about ginkgoes for awhile.

Right now, I am completing the quilting on a small ginkgo leaf piece.  It's too early to show it to you, but stick with me, I'll be talking more about ginkgoes, embroidery, design and quilting.  It feels good to be back talking to you. 

I feel like I'm writing in a vacuum. Please take the time to comment on my blogs, its the only way I know you've come to visit.

Ann Fahl