Saprobia || Juglans Nigra

This is a preview of the black walnut phase of my Momentum Tulsa installation, entitled "Saprobia".  You can read more about Saprobia here and here.
Momentum Tulsa opens on October 12th at Living Arts in Downtown Tulsa.  These forms will be incorporated into a larger installation for the exhibit.
Materials: yarn dyed with ground black walnut hulls, walnuts

Saprobia || Celtis Occidentalis

This is a preview of the hackberry phase of my Momentum Tulsa installation, entitled "Saprobia".  You can read more about Saprobia here and here.
Momentum Tulsa opens on October 12th at Living Arts in Downtown Tulsa.  These forms will be incorporated into a larger installation for the exhibit.
Materials: plant fiber yarn, nipple galls harvested from hackberry leaves

Saprobia || Populus deltoides

Populus deltoides refers to eastern cottonwood, from which materials for these pieces were harvested.  This is a preview of another phase of my Momentum Tulsa installation, entitled "Saprobia".  You can read more about Saprobia here and here.
Momentum Tulsa opens on October 12th at Living Arts in Downtown Tulsa.
Materials: cottonwood seed, cottonwood leaves, thread

Signs of Spring

Spring is here, and I'm loving every second.  I spent a few hours this past weekend potting up some new plants that have been restricted to the indoors, as well as repotting some old ones that were due for a little freshening up.  Can't wait to fire up the grill and enjoy some time out on the front porch in the coming weeks.  My hope for you is that you may get out to enjoy nature and all it's simple details this weekend.

BIG THING #1 aka Off the Needles || Foundation

Remember the "big things that are happening" that I vaguely mentioned a few days ago?  Well, this is the first one.  Last year one of my very dearest friends, Emily, and her husband had a baby and I knew I needed to make something extra special to commemorate this event.  Thus, "Foundation" was born.  Little Beatriz (pictured below - how adorable is this sweet little girl?!?!) was born in mid summer, so I was obviously running a little bit behind on this project but it was way worth it.
A tree's root system is the foundation of the organism - it provides anchorage for the tree's weight, it absorbs the minerals and moisture necessary for metabolic processes, it exchanges gases that are crucial for tree survival and it stores sugars that provide energy to fuel the tree.  Without this foundation, the tree would be nothing.  This blanket that I designed symbolizes that support structure of Beatriz' family.  The growth rings in the center represent the five years her parents built their relationship before bringing her into the world.  I hope it is a piece that she will cherish for years to come, if not at least to keep around because it's a dang soft (and warm) blanket to snuggle beneath. :)
The blanket is made from Knit Picks Swish Worsted.  It incorporates a chart of 6 identical sections knitted in the round.  I plan to publish the pattern eventually, although it will require a little bit of tweaking.  I am going to adapt it with 8 sections to make the growth rings a little rounder - they turned out a little too geometric.
Regardless, it feels so good to finish this project!  I don't even know how many hours of work went into this - weekends and weekends!  Since it was knit in the round, I couldn't really see how it was progressing because it was bunched up at the needles the whole time.  I designed the chart as I went, since I could see the last several rows I had knitted the whole way through to gauge how the pattern was turning out.  Once I started to bind off, the finished product took my breath away.  I will work on trying to make this available soon!


52 Forms of Fungi || #3

This form of fungi is a polypore known as Ganoderma lucidum.  Presence of these conks around the base of a tree suggest internal decay, the extent of which should be investigated further to determine degree of risk for failure.  So while they are beautiful, they're not such a great sign... However, they have been shown to have healing properties and are produced for herbal supplements.
The fruiting bodies themselves vary greatly in color and shape.  For this piece I went with the more brightly colored variation, but you will likely see more variations throughout this project.  I've been working on multiple forms of Ganoderma over the past few months, tweaking the pattern and colorwork and trying to come up with a result that I'm happy with.  This one is getting there, but I still have some work to do.
By the way, if you ever see these conks in the woods you can break them off and bring them home for decor.  The tissue is very woody and will not get smooshy or oozy or anything like that - I've got two on my fireplace mantel that I've had since 2007!








52 Forms of Fungi || #2

I had a question from Misti recently about whether I record the patterns for these pieces that I'm working on as I go.  The answer is YES, I write them down in case the result is something that I really like and want to duplicate.  For instance, I am already in the process of making more of the forms depicted in this post for a larger installation.  If any of the pieces have potential to be incorporated into the Decomposition series, I've gotta have some record of what I did!  In any case...

52 Forms of Fungi #2!

This polypore was inspired by some conks I saw out in a natural area recently.  The ones I looked at were white in color, but I was purchasing yarn recently and this shade of Knit Picks Palette, called "Pennyroyal", grasped my attention and I knew I had to do something with it.  A project idea came to mind and this is the first piece for that project.  I've been using the Palette yarn A LOT lately, and it's quickly becoming a favorite for these types of projects... so many great colors!

This is the first "fungi" that I've attached only temporarily to a living tree, so it was fun trying out a way to do that (which worked pretty well).  On that note, no trees were harmed during the installation of this fungi!  Although, there was a power-walker who kept circling the nearby trail and was giving me some really funny looks.  It made me giggle to myself a little bit... I can already tell that this project is going to be a lot of fun!  Are you ready for more?

View more posts about the 52 Forms of Fungi project.







A Blue Tree Grows in Sacramento

Have you ever woken up in a foreign place, stepped outside to look around you, and had a crisis of reality? Thus begins my visit to Sacramento this past November, when I ventured out to do a little exploring and happened upon a row of sycamore trees with bark laminating in electric blue.  Insert double take.  Electric blue?!?!  Normally white bark, in electric blue.  In fact, even the brown peeling parts exhibited the vibrant but hue, and (aside from the normal response of excessive photographing) all I could do was stand there and scratch my head in awe.  Is this Dr. Seuss Land?  Will I round the corner to encounter the Onceler?  Or a talking fish?

Fortunately, I managed to avoid an existential crisis through a run-in with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, who told me what's up.  The trees are not blue.  Well, they ARE blue, but not naturally anyway. (Well of course, I know my tree morphology and know that North American trees are not typically blue).

These trees are a part of an art installation that states is an "effort to call attention to global deforestation, and is supported by several local organizations and businesses because of its ability to call attention to Sacramento's valuable urban forest."  There is no paint involved, and no toxic substances are applied to the trees or anything that would clog lenticels or cause harm to the tree.  The blue color is a non-toxic dye pigment that will last for no more than six months, before it weathers away.

Konstantin Dimopoulos is the brilliant mind behind this project, which he has also taken to Melbourne, Vancouver, Auckland, Seattle, and Gainesville, FL.  Below is a description of the project and the meaning behind it:

"The Blue Trees is a social art action. Through colour I am making a personal statement about the spirituality of trees and their importance to our very survival: trees are the lungs of the planet.

Colour is a powerful stimulant, a means of altering perception and defining space and time. The fact that blue is a colour that is not naturally identified with trees suggests to the viewer that something unusual, something out of the ordinary has happened. It becomes a magical transformation.

In nature colour is used both as a defensive mechanism, a means of protection, and as a mechanism to attract. The Blue Trees attempts to waken a similar response from viewers. It is within this context that the blue denotes sacredness, something reverential.

Trees are largely invisible in our daily lives, and it’s not until it’s too late that we realise how important they are to us both aesthetically and environmentally. Each year an area at least the size of Belgium of native forests is cleared from around the planet.

Yet while we do this we look at whether other planets can be inhabited, so we’ve got somewhere else to go once we’ve destroyed our own.

The colour used on the trees is biologically safe pigmented water. As an ephemeral artwork, the colour will naturally degrade and the trees gradually revert to their natural state."

I love it when nature and art collide.  If given the opportunity, be sure to check these out!


Already Frozen


I was scoping out photo backdrops for finished knitting projects on a recent Saturday morning and came across this ice coated red bud tree.  Normally, irresponsible lawn irrigation tends to get under my skin, but glimpsing the morning light through ice crystals and fall color on one of the first really cold days of the year just softened my heart a little bit and I had to get a closer look.  I still think people should pay more attention to their irrigation scheduling as it relates to the weather forecast, but I'm glad I got to witness something magically beautiful.

Decomposition: Stacks

Here is the final product from my installation of Stacks, the next phase of my Decomposition series.  For more information about this phase, or to watch the behind the scenes video, check out my sneak peek post.  You can also see previous phases of the series at Colony I and Colony II, and the Decomposition: Colony sneak peek post.

The Decomposition series is a study on the intricate textures of fungi and how they blend in to their natural environment. At a glance and from a distance, these knitted replicas meld in as a part of the magnificent cycle that transforms living plants to detritus and further into minerals that nourish other living plants as they draw these minerals up from the soil. For instance, when viewing the installation at a distance, the pieces appear natural and as though they are meant to exist there. However, on a closer encounter one sees that these are not fruiting bodies at all. The delicate knit stitch stands out and draws you in for closer inspection, much like the intricacies in the texture of fungi draw me in. These elements spur on a stream of questions that carry me meditatively in to a place of introspection. While this is a personal project, I hope that it excites the same way of thinking amongst its viewers, elevating to a greater level of awareness of one's surroundings.

Stacks was inspired by a common fungus found on young and thin barked trees, called split gill fungus.


In the spirit of Halloween, here's some slimy tree ooze for your eyeballs to gaze upon.  This is either sap or some exudation resulting from disease, but it sure looks gross, doesn't it?  Have a spooky October 31st!


Photos from Portland

There was one last location on our trip that I have yet to post photos from.  I didn't take quite as many in Portland as I did elsewhere, but I think there are still some that warrant sharing.  This is definitely my kind of town...  the nature shots are mostly from the Hoyt Arboretum.  We stayed at the Jupiter Hotel which is where the room photos came from, and the others are just some random things from around town.  The last photo isn't from Portland, but since I didn't write a post on the wedding we went to it got skipped over.  It's a great photo of Jason and I though and I wanted to share it (because that doesn't come along very often).


















Texture || Boxelder Bugs

J and I were walking over to pick up some dinner last night when this maple tree covered in clusters of boxelder bugs caught our attention.  At the time, there were clusters twice the size of these at every branch/trunk attachment all the way up the tree, but after the glorious thunderstorm we had yesterday evening they must have been all washed out.  I went back today, and this is what I found.


You can barely make them out here, but we have some bees living in a giant hackberry tree down the street from us.  J and I periodically like to walk by it to observe their activity, and I would say that today is the most active I've seen them in months.  Apparently I'm not the only one who has emerged from their slothfulness with this 20 degree drop.  It's glorious!  And it's also encouraging to see these pollinators making their way in our paved, urban environment.  Kudos, sweet things!

Trees with Heartbeats

Breathing tree with lights
As an urban forester and lover of installation art, I would be remiss to not share this installation that coincides with the Olympics in London this year.

Sometimes I think it's difficult for people to really grasp that trees are breathing, functioning beings with intricate processes that somehow come together even though these organisms do not have nervous systems or brains like humans and animals.  This is one of the ideas that drew me to study forestry in the first place, because it's so beyond my understanding no matter how long I ponder it.  I will never stop being amazed by trees and what they are capable of despite how still and static they appear, and I wish people didn't miss out so often in regards to understanding what our communities gain by having trees growing throughout them.

This installation is an educational and artistic perspective of environmental services of trees that was put in place to raise awareness about these benefits.

From RTTC:

"The ‘Breathing Trees’ display is based in Russell Square – one of they city’s best known public areas – and is intended to change a typical city park into a living, breathing organism using light and sound installations.The artwork is a collaboration between Camden Borough Council and digital art company Creatmosphere. It uses a series of multi-colour LED lights positioned within two of the square’s largest trees to visually transform the canopy into the ‘lungs’ of the city, rising and falling to the sound of breathing and a beating heart.

London’s focus on sustainability ahead of the Olympics Games has been praised by NGOs such as WWF and Bioregional.

And Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet member for sustainability at Camden said the art would help reinforce their efforts to remind the public of how vital trees are to urban areas.

'Breathing trees in not just a visual audio spectacle…it will reinforce our message that our natural environment must be protected,' he said.

'Without protecting our wonderful natural resources we will be unable to tackle the many environmental issues in the years to come.' "

In case you're interested in what services trees do provide, check out the National Arbor Day Foundation's information about tree benefits.

Neukom Vivarium

6a00e39335dc1e88340148c6b580cf970c-800wi In one week, we will be in Seattle taking in 80 degree temperatures, great seafood and the culture of the northwest.  One of the sites I am most looking forward to visiting is the Olympic Sculpture Park, an extension of the Seattle Art Museum.  The reason behind this is Neukom Vivarium, an art installation surrounding life cycles and the decomposition process of an old growth log.  Here is a brief description of the installation by Mark Dion from the park web site:

"Neukom Vivarium is a hybrid work of sculpture, architecture, environmental education and horticulture that connects art and science. Sited at the corner of Elliott Avenue and Broad Street, it features a sixty-foot-long 'nurse log' in an eighty-foot-long custom-designed greenhouse. Set on a slab under the glass roof of the greenhouse, the log has been removed from the forest ecosystem and now inhabits an art system. Its ongoing decay and renewal represent nature as a complex system of cycles and processes. Visitors observe life forms within the log using magnifying glasses supplied in a cabinet designed by the artist. Illustrations of potential log inhabitants-bacteria, fungi, lichen, plants, and insects-decorate blue and white tiles that function as a field guide, assisting visitors' identification of 'specimens.' Neukom Vivarium is the artist's first permanent public art work in the United States."

Hues || Oak-Hickory Forest

In the quiet moments of life there is much to observe, and those moments happen to be the ones that recharge me every day of my life.  Through the Texture, Hues and Light features, my intent is to draw attention to details normally unnoticed which I find inspirational at the time of capture.  The array of textures in hardwood forests is unending, but colors are a different beat.  While the overall hue of the setting is a veil of green and brown, the detail and slight differences of hues are easy to pick out when looked at closely.
I always find myself in awe of these details (whether texture or hue OR both together).  Here are some of the hues I picked up on while we were visiting the Ozarks recently.

Tree Prints

I've been a bit derailed lately with some kind of flu bug.  It's been 4 days and counting of feeling utterly miserable, so I'm hoping there will be a light at the end of the tunnel soon so I can start feeling like myself again.  Unfortunately, I haven't felt like doing much other than sleeping or plastering myself to the couch so alas, not much knit work has been done this past week. I just saw these wood block prints, however, which made me happy so I thought I would share.  This gentleman prints using cut pieces of trees found in his home state.  Since anything wood grain beckons to me (yes, even the cheesy wood paneling you used to see on station wagons in the 80's) of course I would think that these are great.

Via Fossil, Prints by Bryan Nash Gill

Check out Mr Gill's web site if you have a moment.  He has a new book out with these prints called Woodcut, but his sculpture and installation art is really outstanding as well.