OK, first some housekeeping from last year - Nola brought along her finished Birthstones sketchbooks. I think she's the only one of us to put something in her book for each month. The November birthstone was Topaz:
She discovered the "devant de corsage", originally a triangular decorative panel inserted into the front bodice of a woman's dress, pointing down towards the stomach (hence its other name, "stomacher"). In the 18th century, this developed into a triangular brooch or group of brooches, which became especially popular in Edwardian times. She also found that Faberge loved to work with topaz.
The December birthstone was Turquoise. Some years ago, Nola made a textile work based on the beautiful turquoise tiles on the mosque at Isfahan, the area from which most European turquoise came. She traced the history of turquoise in the west, first as religious jewellery and, after the Reformation, in secular jewellery. Of course it also features in pre-Columbian societies in South America.
Helen brought along her new journal for our 2015 theme, Trees.
She had already begun putting things in her journal. She has decided to use the letter of the month to help her choose which tree to focus on, and it must be a tree she knows nothing about. The tree for January was the Judas Tree, cercio siliquastrum.
It's name comes from the legend this this tree was the one from which Judas Iscariot hanged himself, after betraying Jesus, although this story is also attached to the elder tree.
It's an unfortunate legend for such a pretty tree!
It doesn't sound as if it would be very happy living in Australia, as it doesn't like very wet weather or very hot weather.
We'll have more tree pages to show you in the coming year. If you want to share our tree journey and create journal pages every month too, we'd love to hear about it!