Ever taken Myers Briggs personality test? I have, twice, and I’m an ENFP. What’s an ENFP? Well, a lot of things: extroverted, intuitive, and likely to view life as an endless parade of possibilities. In fact, I may have adult ADD, but I prefer to think of myself as hyper-inspired. The world around is teeming with fascinating stuff. And with two boys who love to be outside, I get large doses of the natural world on an almost daily basis, in the form of hiking trails, woods, and creek beds. My eldest son Satchel, in particular, seems to have a gift for spotting what most people would walk past- owl pellets, an evacuated chrysalis- and he takes the time to marvel over them all. Hikes with my boys are rife with found treasure.
We spend a lot of time hiking the trails and grounds of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (just ask anyone who follows me on Instagram). On a recent trip, Gus was especially preoccupied with the tree stumps on the grounds of the museum. We wondered aloud what has caused the huge crack in the stump, how old the tree was, and then came a thought that often pops into my head when I’m interested in something: Could I stitch that?
So, I came home and started doodling. Concentric rings, bark. Poof! I also decided this would be the perfect time to try out the watercolor technique I saw on the Wild Olive blog.
I wanted to give a little brown tone to the “stump” and some green for added color. I knew this would fade when washed so I made it pretty dark. I used Sublime Stitching’s Tracing Paper and Sulky pen to make an iron-on design:
How Old? This was the phrase I chose. My aforementioned highly observant eldest, at the age of three, began greeting anyone he met by asking, “How old are you?” I thought this was odd until I realized, that’s exactly what people ask him everywhere he goes. Through his powers of observation, he had deduced that How old are you? is what one asks when introduced. I thought it was so sweet. It’s another odd double standard of childhood- we constantly ask children how old they are, but chide them if they ask an adult their age. Funny. I fussed with it until it looked like I wanted it:
Once I started stitching, I realized I might have another ring by the time I finished. Those circles were time consuming, and the material was starting to pucker, even with stabilizer. Yeesh. I had used a thin batting on the backside, to create softness, and that helped somewhat, but when I took it off the hoop, it was still a little pucker-y. I filled in the “bark” for a darker effect, washed it and smoothed it.
Hmmm. I have mixed feelings about this one. It’s growing on me. I may have to not look at it for a few days and then come back to it. Cute, sweet, but this is sort of a case where the idea did not quite translate the way I envisioned. I think I was too literal in my interpretation of the arial view of stump I took a picture of.
Or as my husband put it, “That looks like a cross between a mountain bike tire and Madonna’s cone-boob bra.” It’s ok. I value honesty. It’s an ENFP gift.
Take away: Don’t be too literal in re-interpreting what inspired me in the first place.—Lots of stitches really close together on thinner-ish cotton will really want to pucker.—Husband has odd ability to recall Madonna’s tour costuming.—Water color wash is a really fun way to add a little something special.
I love this sentiment and tree stumps too, so there may be a How Old 2.0, more along the lines of this:
Dendrochronology is the science of dating trees. You can read all kinds of cool stuff about tree rings here.