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Pine Cone Flowers

August 18, 2011

I often receive the nicest emails from strangers. Sometimes students write to ask if they can interview me for class projects, sometimes editors write asking for images for a story, and sometimes people write just to say they’ve seen my work and like it. Those are my favorite. I usually write back saying that their emails made my day, and I always mean it.

When the article on my work came out recently in Ornament Magazine, I received some wonderful emails from people who had read the article and wanted to reach out. My favorite was from a woman named Sharon who responded directly to something I had said about my necklace called Main Street #1.

The necklace is made from natural forms that I found on Main Street in the small town on the east coast where some of my family lives. I picked the pieces up because I thought they were so beautiful, and immediately envisioned them encircling a neck.

I didn’t know exactly what they were, but thought they must be related to pine cones because of their shape. They are distinctively flower-shaped, and over the years, people who have commented on this necklace have often called them “dried roses.” I knew they were not dried roses, but they definitely resemble them. When Robin Updike asked me about this piece in our Ornament interview, I admitted I still did not know what they were, even after all these years. And then lo and behold, a couple weeks after the magazine hit the stands, I received the most wonderful email!

Dear Ms. Hood:

I bought the current issue of Ornament magazine because of your beautiful jewelry.  Your work is fantastic.  I’ve seen pictures of your Railroad series before, but I had never seen your Main Street #1 necklace until I opened the magazine.

The article states you haven’t been able to identify the material you used in the necklace.  But it made me smile the minute I saw it — I suspect it’s made of what my 5-year-old and I call “pine cone flowers.”  We get dozens of them in our yard every year.  They come from a huge pine tree we have.  When the pine cones fall off the top half of the tree, they shatter apart when they hit the ground after falling from such a great height.  What’s usually left intact is the bottom of the pine cone.  The damage makes the surviving part look like a rose instead of a pine cone.  My 5-year-old loves to collect them, and we always have piles of them in our garage.  Never did we imagine they could make an incredible necklace!

Thank you for sharing your work with Ornament.  I’m just starting out in metalsmithing, and it’s amazing to see what’s possible.

Sharon

Pine cone flowers! Fantastic! I love the name–it describes exactly what I’ve always thought these forms were–and I love the image of all of those large pine cones falling and shattering when they hit the ground, creating entirely new forms that are unique and complete in their own right. It’s like the original pine cones have this inner, secret form just waiting for the right circumstances to help it emerge. I love it.

I am so happy to know what they are, and so thankful that Sharon felt able to reach out in this way. The next time I am on Main Street, where I found them, I am going to be sure to look up as I am walking along to find the giant pines that must have dropped these down. And call it a mystery solved.

_______________

Edited on 12/7/11 to add: Another kind reader wrote today to tell me that these are actually the cones of Cedrus Deodara, and not those of a pine at all. Thanks, Simona!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Simona permalink
    December 7, 2011 3:34 pm

    You can find with this name too: Deodar Cedar, Himalayan Cedar or Deodar.

  2. Jane Young permalink
    December 23, 2011 10:02 pm

    Hey, there. I discovered scads of these next to the chicken enclosue on my boyfriend’s ranch near Calisoga, CA. These are NOT pine cone bottoms — it’s the actual shape of the cone on the tree (I checked). I wandered for several acres and could not find another tree that produced similar cones. I have shown them to several friends and no one has ever seen one like it. A friend wrote me on Facebook after I posted a photo and she said Martha Stewart did arrangements with them and mentioned the trees only grow in three locations, with Northern CA being one. I think they are beautiful!

  3. Sal permalink
    October 12, 2013 11:10 pm

    CEDAR ROSE FACTS:
    These “Cedar Rose” { Cedrus Deodara } cones are actually the tops of the Deodar Cedar pinecones! Deodar Cedar Cones are also known as Himalayan cedar. Each cone is actually 3 to 4″ long and 2 to 3″ in diameter and shaped like a barrel. As they make their decent to the ground, they naturally break apart. Deodar means Timber of the Gods.

    http://pineconesandpodz.com/cedar.html

    I have also found some of these in our neighborhood and I picked them up to decorate a wooden frame with them. I was looking for a fixative to help protect them from breaking because as you know they are very fragile; and I came across your page. I love your idea of a necklace, but that’s way out of my capability. How do you keep them from breaking? Thanks.

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