48-second gift

I owe you some house updates, but I wanted to share a different sort of project first. This past weekend, a very dear friend of mine married her awesome fiancé in a really sweet, fun ceremony at a nature conservancy in Maryland (congrats, guys!).

Flash back a few months: I was debating what to give the couple as a gift, and the bride suggested that I go off-registry and make something by hand. This is kind of a tricky proposition — as well as you know someone, it can be difficult to narrow in on the style of art she would appreciate in her (and her husband’s!) home. So I thought it might be best to focus on something classic, nature-based, and calming.

My inspiration for the piece came as I was editing photographs for this post. In one of my shell dishes I have a lone cluster of seed pods, plucked from the sidewalk not far from my house. I love the shape of these pods. They have a form that reminds me of a tulip just beginning to open. Their structure implies action — a promise that something good will be arriving.

I started to picture a field of them, reaching up from long stems, almost as though they were flowers emerging from a morning fog.  They don’t grow this way in nature, of course, but that’s why we have such a thing as artistic license.  I think you win one of those after you’ve spent 4 years sketching ugly ceramic pots on rumpled sheets.

I gathered a bunch of additional pods over the course of a few days, and began to sketch an arrangement of them on a pale gray illustration board. I thought it might be fun to document my process and share it here in video form:

[flickr video=6244681651 secret=44fb3d1c0d w=640 h=360]


I used an app called TimeLapse to capture an image every 30 seconds (except in the beginning, where the images were spaced out over a few minutes as I played with the app settings). The video a little wonky since the piece itself is big, requiring me to move it/myself frequently, and it’s filmed over several days in different lighting situations. But still: warp speed drawing is fun to watch.

I took my finished piece to a great local framing shop, where they got to work making the thing all proper and archival and stuff.  No cheap-o plastic frame from the craft store, here!  This is a gallery-quality product.

When my gift came back to me it was wrapped in heavy brown paper, which was practical but not pretty.  So I took on a second, last-minute project: stenciling my own wrapping paper. I used a template to trace a pattern of diamonds with alternating stripes in silver marker.

Et voila!  A DIY wedding gift.  I hope it suits your home, Marissa and Dan!  May your marriage be full of lots of little promises of good things arriving.

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