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Short Story: Tall Ships of Autumn

Oct 23, 2012

by FollowTheRaven handmade and vintage goods

Here at Etsy, we believe that the story behind an object is often just as fascinating as the object itself. Short Stories is our series dedicated to telling the tales behind extraordinary pieces found or created by Etsy sellers.

Here’s Jeff of Follow The Raven with the tale behind his whimsical ships.

A Nova Scotia autumn. Chestnut leaves fade to an earthy brown that doesn’t ask for your attention. I must have crunched through thousands of them over the years.

When my daughter was a baby, my eyes became more attuned to the world at ground level, mostly to prevent her from eating bugs and twigs. One autumn day we were sitting in the grass among some fallen chestnut leaves. My daughter, perhaps thinking of a mid-morning snack, held up one of the leaves. Out of nowhere I was awestruck. The twisted leaf, which took on a burnished bronze sheen in the sun, appeared monumental. Here was Frank Gehry’s architecture in a baby’s hand.

We gathered some leaves and took them to my studio. I decided to photograph the leaves as if they were architectural works, and set about making an array of leaf sculptures. It was like discovering a new world.


The first thing you’ll notice about a fallen chestnut leaf is that the leaf’s long edges curl up and form a three-dimensional boat-like shape. It looks like a canoe from Middle-Earth, except for one thing: the leaf’s stem quickly reads as a tall ship’s forestay. In that case what’s missing from this particular boat are the sails, which are readily found in the form of other leaves. That’s how the first Tall Ship of Autumn came to be.

There is a poignant harmony to leaves dying and falling to earth, only to be reborn as mythical ships ready to ride the breeze again.

All photos by Follow The Raven.

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3 Featured Comments

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 7 years ago Featured

    I enjoyed the Tolkien reference. I've often thought of leaves as ships, especially from the animated films of my childhood (like The Rescuers) where mice and other small creatures used leaves as boats.

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 7 years ago Featured

    INCREDIBLE! Seriously, I love how the mind can turn every day objects into personal works of art by getting a glimpse of inspiration. ♥

  • wheatleypaperworks

    M Wheatley from wheatleypaperworks said 7 years ago Featured

    Part of the artist's job is to show alternative ways of seeing the world around us. You've given us a magical window here into another world. Breathtakingly simple--(the best stuff always is!)


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