When first harvested, seeds of the Phytelephas aequatorialis tree are white, though you might be more familiar with them as brightly-colored baubles in your jewelry box. Tagua (pronounced tog-wah) nuts, or "ivory of the rainforest," from the Ecuadorean Ivory Palm, are a sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. The seeds are hard and smooth, as well as being easy to carved and dye. They are lustrous as Bakelite and smooth as ceramic, with a chromatic depth I associate with silk or the complex grain of walnut wood.
If you take a stroll in the chilly autumn winds this Thanksgiving weekend, you'll find a really lovely landscape. On the ground are silhouettes of so many leaves collecting on the sidewalk—the gingko's fan, the oak's fingers, and the maple's peaks—and with each silhouette, the story of a tree's evolution. Artist Jenny Lee Fowler cuts portrait silhouettes of people from leaves and bark. Her paper cuttings are distinctly modern, while honoring the legacy of early American portraiture and the natural elements that are her media.