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Monday, October 25, 2010

Monkey Puzzle Trees

This summer, in answer to a challenge, I started a small 20" x 20" rendition of a Monkey Puzzle tree. The challenge was to do something with a tree from an angle that most people hadn't looked at it before and to use a method which we didn't usually use....In addition, the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network put out a challenge with the theme of "Puzzle." I thought, ahah! I'll do one little quilt which will fit both challenges. I'll use hand stitching which I don't usually do and since it's small, I'll get it done in the week's time I needed for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. I also thought this would work well as I was going to Connecticut and wouldn't have my machine available.


Well, I used variegated perle cotton thread on a piece of synthetic slubby linen from the 1970s. I outlined all the leaves in violet with back stitch then used running stitch in variegated greens long the leaves. I shaded using a variegated darker, almost sage to forest green DMC embroidery floss (3 strands) for shading the leaves at in a long/short stitch combo. I finally finished it at the quilt retreat this weekend. It took me the better part of the day to do echo quilting around the leaves by machine. I had previously done machine trapunto on the leaves, only putting a single line of quilting down the middle of the leaves and outlining each leaf. The echo quilting is done with a variegated King Tut in red/violet/navy.
Here's the real monkey puzzle bud end of a branch. You can see where I quartered it and designed the quilt based on it.

The Monkey Puzzle tree is Araucaria araucana and is native to Chile and parts of the Andes. It grows in zones 7b to zone 10 and is sometimes used as an ornamental in the U.S. and other places, I think in particular Australia as that is where most of the comments on this tree seem to originate on the web.

I have seen several in Washington state, in fact, this particular specimen is not far from my sister's house. It has an open habit and is sort of odd looking.
I think the oddest thing about them is the "monkey" I think it may be a fruiting body (i.e. "cone" ), but I'm not sure. According to people who have them in their yards, they aren't the nicest plant to deal with. The have very sharp needles (some describe them as being razor edged) and the "cones" can weigh up to 10 pounds each....I don't think I'd like to stand underneath one and get bopped by one! The trees can grow to 70 feet tall by 30 feet wide.

Here you can see the brown "monkey." Interesting...but I'd rather have my quilt, thank you very much!

3 comments:

Shady Character said...

Cool! I love the detail in the stitching. It really adds texture to the piece.

Michigoose said...

Thanks, Mark! That's what I was going for...texture and shading through the stitchwork.

Sally said...

While googling Monkey Puzzle trees I came across this picture, and, being a quilter, I am in love with this block, absolutely amazing! Great job!! I also design most of the quilts I make, so I understand everything that goes on in the creation of unique quilts and blocks. Thanks for sharing.