Where the Red Fern Grows….

– Posted in: Book, Inspiration
Fern at Mt Cook

Back in the day…..when the world was a little bit more innocent…my BFF and I spent much of our summer days roaming all by ourselves in the neighborhood park. The park was bordered by a creek, where we spent many hours building dams and crossings in the cool green water with gold glinting highlights. Leafy trees arched overhead, and fallen branches because houses and forts. Mosses and ferny glades were our resting spots. 

My favorite vacations were spent in the redwoods in Santa Cruz, and up on the north coast of California, where ferns made the understory to the giant trees. 

Well, fast forward several decades, and I have just returned from a trip to New Zealand with this same friend—and my DH, and son and daughter-in-law. What a trip it was…a month long journey of adventure! 

Ferns in New Zealand

During the trip, we enjoyed quite a few hikes— each unique, and yet each characterized by abundant greenery—especially ferns. Small ones, large ones, smooth ones, ripply ones, green ones, and even red ones. Do you recall the legend of the red fern? Planted by angels, the red fern will never die. Ferns in New ZealandFerns in New ZealandFerns in New Zealand

Then there were tree ferns. . . towering tree ferns with cooling shady canopies . . . On the long hikes, the tree ferns kept the hot sun at bay with gently filtered light.

Tree Fern in New Zealand Tree Fern Forest in New Zealand

If you have been reading the blog or Facebook, you know that this month, Melly and I are hosting a Playful Fabric Print-Along in our Facebook community. (Join us here!) I decided for this Print-Along to use the theme of ferns, prompted by my New Zealand trip, but inspired by my lifelong ferny love.

Monoprints may be my favorite starting point with a natural subject. Seeing as here in upstate NY the only plants up from the ground are crocuses and snowdrops, at this moment I am limited to using leatherleaf ferns from the florist. Many surfaces can be used for monoprints, including glass, vinyl, a sheet of fun foam attached to a plexi plate, even Ikea placemats— but I chose my favorite—the gelli plate. Let the playful printing commence!

Several surfaces for monoprinting

Several surfaces for monoprinting

I chose three greens from Playful Fabric Printing, mixed up the dye paste in two values, and away I went!

Green Thickened Dye Paste

The colors of dye paste used in this stack of work

Warm-up print

Warm-up print

Monoprinting with ferns

Pulling the first print: see the ferns peeking out from under the cloth.

Monoprinting with ferns

After the first print.

Monoprinting with ferns

The work table.

Here are a few of the pieces I printed. 

Fern PrintFern PrintFern PrintFern PrintFern Print

I am envisioning some tools I want to make around this theme. In my next blog I will share the development of some tools with the fern theme. 


12 comments… add one
Cindi April 11, 2017, 10:07 am

So much fun to watch along as I try to finish up these dam 1040s

Jeannie April 11, 2017, 10:37 am

Gorgeous prints! I know that ferns are my favorite plant to print – so airy and interesting. Growing up outside of Seattle, vacations in the rain forest of the Olympic Mountains, and then ending up in the desert side of the state, I missed the green-ness, especially the ferns. I’ve managed to bring some to some areas that have been amended from beach sand. I love watching them unfurl every spring. Even on the hottest summer days, they make be feel just a tad cooler. (I thought this post was going to be about the movie. I wasn’t sure I was ready to sob through a retelling of the tale.) 🙂

carol April 11, 2017, 10:53 am

I forgot that there is a movie! I was recalling the book. I may need to watch the movie when I am in the mood. I have spent a lot of time in the PNW, graduating from UW, but just went into the rainforest the first time in 2015. That place is magical to me too!

Regina Sweet April 11, 2017, 10:39 am

Nice blog and loved seeing all the ferns I loved playing in the woods, river and creeks. It’s nice to walk the Beautiful trails and dream of the old days.

carol April 16, 2017, 1:22 pm

I still find peace in the woods.

Deborah Gregory April 11, 2017, 8:53 pm

We recently moved from WA state to the high desert of Southern Arizona. I dream of a walk I did daily through second grownth forrest .

carol April 16, 2017, 1:21 pm

I find the desert fascinating, but I would miss woodland areas too!

Jane Haworth April 12, 2017, 12:22 pm

Love the photos and the prints are really intriguing too

carol April 16, 2017, 1:22 pm

Thanks, Jane!

Jane Wass May 24, 2017, 7:14 am

Beautiful work! Just ordered your book from Amazon. Hope to register for Oct class before it fills up!

PegiRose Bevins August 12, 2023, 10:00 am

Hello, Carol,
Your description of your childhood sounds like mine–my BFF and I were SO into nature and I remember it with such fondness. I live in Iowa, so your workshops are a bit out of reach for me. Will you be having an online workshop on dyeing? I dye warps, then weave scarves, placemats, whatever, and donate the items to local charity auctions. I’m happy with some of my dyed warps but not all, so I’d like to know what I’m doing wrong. Does your book describe the dyeing process but also how to choose colors that work together and then apply them so that they look “professional”? Thanks!

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