I am often asked, “Which comes first when you look at a frond: do you see what to make or do you search for the right frond to transform according to your plan?”
My answer, I tell them, is, “Yes”.
Sometimes it’s clear to me what a frond or seed pod will be the moment I see it. More often, I have a specific plan in mind and must search my tangled stockpile, scour the outdoors, beg my landscaper contacts, or “send out an SOS” to my Frond Finders.
I got a pretty good haul from this trip - giraffe necks, horse and zebra necks, manes, and possibly a turtle shell or two. Just have to dry them and, in some cases, to soak and block them before I can do anything with them.
I rushed to a loyal Frond Finder‘s neighborhood the minute she let me know tree trimmers were in the area. This little cutie (well, not so little!) was one of 25 palm leaves I brought home. I spent the rest of that day soaking them, scrubbing them, then pressing them flat!
No power tools needed for palm leaves.
But, for a frond, once the moisture meter says it’s dry, I rough cut with a hand saw, if needed. I trace a template I’ve drawn onto the frond’s surface, then use a jigsaw to trim and shape, followed by a lot of sanding to smooth edges.
When I make a new creature, it’s always fun to envision how I’ll paint him/her. Sometimes the frond dictates the method, as certain techniques do not behave on very curved or ridged pieces. With my elephants, I’ve developed a method that keeps my design intact yet allows me to add the characteristic wrinkles for which the pachyderm is known.
And, did you know elephants have eyelashes? They tend to be quite long. The lashes I make are from fringed sections of a Royal Palm Tree frond.
I have help from a number of individuals who have taken it upon themselves to alert me when they see fronds on the ground, dangling from trees, or being trimmed. I am indebted to them for their shared passion of recycling and repurposing these beautiful pieces of nature and am so impressed by their enthusiasm. Because of this, I am creating a Frond Finders group. Faithful “Finders” will receive ”cool stuff” for their efforts. I know what the first thing will be and will announce it soon!