Author Archive for giveafig – Page 2

Give A Fig™ cards now at Winterthur Museum

Give A Fig™ art cards are now available at Winterthur Museum bookstore! Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is a world-reknowned institution nestled on 1,000 acres of rolling piedmont in northern Delaware. The estate museum houses one of the most important collections of American decorative arts including rare furnishings, antiques, and books in the United States of America.

Tour the house to see exquisite spaces in which founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) entertained family and friends in grand style. The 175 rooms, many of them with historical architecture, are furnished with his outstanding collection of antiques and selections from nearly 90,000 objects masterfully arranged.

Outdoor at Winterthur, enjoy rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. H. F. du Pont selected only the choicest plants from around the world to enhance the natural setting, arranging them in lyrical color combinations and carefully orchestrating a succession of bloom from late January to November. Du Pont translated his love of the land into a unified work of art that embodies a romantic vision of nature’s beauty.

At Give A Fig™, our love of beautiful natural spaces and historic cultures translates into unique designs that celebrate nature and the arts. Every card is produced on the best available premium paper that is environmentally responsible with an FSC-certified recycled paper, soy-based inks, and low-emission, alternative energy sources.

We think our Give A Fig™ art cards are a perfect fit with Winterthur’s dedication to the highest ideals of beauty, history, and nature. We’re excited for you to visit Winterthur and check out our cards for sale in the bookstore.

Symbolism in “Dragonfly in Amber”

By Suzanne DeMott Gaadt

A dragonfly is a powerful symbol around the world. I have wondered about the symbolism in Dragonfly in Amber, the second book of the beloved Outlander series by Diana Gabaldonhttp://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/dragonfly-in-amber/ As an homage to this story, I created a new design with my characteristic layers of meaning in watercolor and pen-and-ink. Here I share some thoughts about Ms. Gabaldon’s title, as well as the motifs contained in my art (shown here).

The Outlander novels and their exquisite adaptation by Ronald D. Moore for the Starz television network, http://www.starz.com/series/outlander/featured are the story of Claire (played by Caitriona Balfe), a WW II British combat nurse and the wife of an Intelligence agent. While picking wildflowers in the Highlands, she passes through a stone circle and is unexpectedly thrown back in time to Scotland in the 1740s. For her safety, she marries Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan), a noble Highlander and outlaw of the British redcoats.

After the couple is forced to leave Scotland, Claire and Jamie shake things up in Paris on the eve of the Jacobite rising. “Dragonfly in Amber” focuses on their time in France working together to thwart Bonnie Prince Charlie before returning to Scotland to fight for the salvation of the Scottish clans. Since Claire is from the future, she knows what will happen at the Battle of Culloden when the clans are wiped out, but she has the audacity to try to change the future with Jamie’s help. We admire their fortitude and conviction in the face of a doomed cause. Gabaldon has created a world richly informed by history, science, magic, and eternal love. I sense she does not choose titles lightly.

Ms. Gabaldon says the dragonfly in amber is “sort of a symbol of Jamie and Claire’s marriage.” It is a metaphor for “something of great beauty that is preserved and exists out of its proper time.” In almost every culture, a dragonfly symbolizes change—the kind of change that brings a deeper understanding of the meaning of life. It represents going beyond what is on the surface and looking deeper into the implications and aspects of life. As a token of wisdom, it stands for transformation and adaptability in life. For Native Americans, it is a sign of someone departed.

The motif of a dragonfly has many meanings, but with the addition of the insect set in amber, it becomes even richer. Amber is known as the “memory stone” and is thought to contain magical properties. It locks thoughts and memories in place to keep them safe. Amber is seen as a window into the past. It is ground and used medicinally for soothing. This organic gemstone is formed over millennia from the hardened resin of ancient pine trees. It is transformed by time.

In the story, Jamie and Claire wonder if it is possible to change time—to prevent the looming conflict. However, the fact that Claire is living two hundred years before her birth has already had an impact on people and events in her time in the present. She changes time—all the time. With her healing skills, she saves lives that would otherwise be lost. She alters Jamie’s life and just about everyone else she meets just by engaging in decision-making.

If we think of a dragonfly as a universal symbol of “change” and if “change” is trapped in amber, then the object that symbolizes change is frozen in time. It no longer changes. Change becomes part of memory—it is even prevented from changing! In the case of our main characters in the story, they hope to change the future but if “change” is set in amber, the future cannot be changed. In this case, the dragonfly may represent the Battle of Culloden. The result of the Scots’ defeat changed the Gaelic way of life in the Highlands forever. It could not be avoided and is set in memory.

Caitriona Balfe, stated in an interview that she thinks of Claire as the dragonfly—another possible meaning. https://samcaitlife.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/new-sam-and-cait-attend-qa-at-the-apple-store-soho/ A dragonfly begins to grow in water then moves into light and air to fly. These agile, long-bodied predators can fly up to 45 miles per hour! They have 20 times more power in each wing stroke as compared to other insects, and an ability to move in all six directions: backwards, forwards, up and down, and side to side. Claire is a time traveler, moving between centuries backwards and forwards—beginning life in one reality before moving to another. She adapts to her surroundings and goes beyond the surface to delve deeper into life. Claire as the dragonfly set in amber is imbued with magic and lives in memory.

In my artwork, the dragonfly glows within an amber sphere, along with other icons. Notice the two rings, interwoven like an infinity symbol. They represent Claire’s wedding rings: the gold one from Frank and the Celtic silver ring from Jamie. There is a star-filled dome that refers to the King’s chamber. The top ring doubles as a compass, alluding to “Voyager,” the next book in the series. The word “CHANGE” is inscribed there with the “N” pointing north on the Eiffel Tower—a nod to Claire’s time in Paris during the war. A fleur de lys of France sits at the south point. The silver ring contains two hearts for Jamie and Claire above the purple mountains of the Highlands. The curved lines on either side of the dragonfly create balance and harmony while honoring the Gaelic culture and the medieval monks who illuminated manuscripts. The spirals also represent horseshoes for good luck, clefs and musical notes, snakes, and the twisting storylines of plot and subplot. This knotwork weaves in and out of the standing stones of Craigh na Dun to ground the entire design in Scotland.

I was an art history and communications design major in college in Philadelphia and Rome, Italy. I am fascinated with symbolism in the arts and culture, the hidden stories behind certain motifs, and the meaning of myth. My interest in Celtic mythology began as a child with my Irish grandmother and led to the discovery of the King Arthur legends. For thirty years, I have traveled the world for business and pleasure, seeking out UNESCO World Heritage sites, especially Iron Age ruins in northern Europe. I wandered the stone circles in the Orkney Islands of Scotland http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/skarabrae/, marveled at the ancient mounds of Newgrange in Ireland http://www.newgrange.com, and climbed the sea-washed stones of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland http://www.giantscausewayofficialguide.com.

I dedicate this art and essay to the creative vision of Ms. Gabaldon, whose legions of fans have enjoyed reading and re-reading the Outlander books for 25 years. I also want to thank the outstanding actors, writers, producers, directors, and crew of the Outlander television production for their artistry and integrity.

I welcome comments!

Prints of the artwork are available here at this site. If you have any questions, please message Suzanne through this site, the Give A Fig Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GiveAFig/ or Twitter at https://twitter.com/GiveAFig1.

© Suzanne D. Gaadt, 2016. All rights reserved. No part or whole of this essay or artwork may be used in any way, quoted, borrowed, scanned digitally, photographed, or otherwise copied without the express written permission of Suzanne D. Gaadt.

Free GIVE A FIG card

GAF15 lrGIVE A FIG™ is excited to present three new greeting card designs. To celebrate, we will give a free GIVE A FIG™ card to our first 10 fans. We want to hear from you!

The first of the three new designs is a birthday card. It turns things topsy turvy by featuring artwork with a fox riding a horse. The sly fellow wears traditional “hunt” attire and his top hat flies out behind him as the horse jumps. A phrase on the front encourages the recipient to “Horse Around” for his/her birthday and includes “Happy Birthday.” The bright red coat on the fox contrasts nicely with the rich green of the background clover pattern.

“I’m very fortunate to live in an area of rolling hills and bucolic countryside. There are many horse farms. I see the bushy tails and pointy noses of red foxes almost daily.” Suzanne recalls. “I thought it would be fun to switch it up and have the fox leading the horse.”

A second design is a superhero card featuring a woman flying over the city. She is a polished, realistic model rather than the typical comic book heroine with impossible proportions. Our message is that we are grateful to all the women who do so much for their communities and their families at home and at work. Her cape flies as she moves onto her next challenge. The title declares, “You’re a Wonder.” She is a companion to our male superhero card, “You’re a Hero.”

Finally, we’re very excited to share with you our third new design, the 2015 holiday card, “The Holiday Musicians of Bremen.” Suzanne has always been enthralled with the story of “The Town Musicians of Bremen.” This 19th century German tale, “Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten,” features four animals past their prime: a donkey, dog, cat and rooster. They meet on the road to Bremen where they join up to become town musicians. That night they discover a robber’s shack in the forest. The traveling minstrels peer in the window and see thieves surrounded by food and other treasures. The animals are hungry, cold, and weary so they scare off the criminals with a loud chorus of howls. After a failed attempt to reclaim the hut, the thieves move on and the animals settle into their new home. http://germanstories.vcu.edu/grimm/bremereng.html

Suzanne says, “Germany is a magical place during the holidays. Many of our western Christmas and holiday traditions began there. This story also reminds me of Mary traveling on a donkey to Bethlehem with Joseph to give birth to the Christ child. Music, snow, pine trees, peace, friendship and feasting are all cherished symbols of our holiday season.”

Click here to order: http://giveafig.net/shop 

Whether you want to buy one or 100, contact us today. We have cartons of new cards and envelopes for sale. We hope you like all three of our new Give A Fig™ cards!

Please be sure to check out the list of stores that carry Give A Fig™ at our home page.

Remember to show someone you care and send them a card today. It is one of the most meaningful ways to express genuine sentiment and show someone you’re thinking of them. Because you Give A Fig™, we can continue to offer new designs. And we give back. A percentage of profits goes to help arts and environmental nonprofits fulfill their missions.

As in all of our other designs, these new cards are printed on the finest paper from responsibly harvested and recycled stock. They are printed in full color on the front and back, and blank on the inside so you can include your own personal message. Our studio is powered from renewable energy sources and the professional printer also utilizes sustainable practices. Thank you for your support and interest!

Hi Card Lovers, Give A Fig is almost 2!

It’s been a whirlwind since starting Give A Fig™ almost 2 years ago. There are now 16 designs, with 3 new card concepts coming soon—a woman Super Hero, a new birthday greeting and a woodland Holiday scene. Give A Fig™ cards are available in many fine boutiques in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Wyre Naturals in North East, MD is the most recent store to join the Give A Fig™ family. See: www.wyrenaturals.net

Of course, you can always purchase cards through our website too. And we’re constantly looking for new partners to sell Give A Fig™ cards in their shops. We’ve had many requests for eco-tote bags, T-shirts and other merchandise, so we’re exploring options for beautiful, affordable items made completely in the USA. Thank you for choosing Give A Fig™, Cards to show you care. Let us know what you wish for Give A Fig™. Thanks again!

Update – Where to buy Give A Fig cards

• State and Union, Kennett Square, PA:  http://www.stateandunion.co

• Winterthur Museum Bookstore, DE:  http://winterthur.org

• Gateway Garden Center, Hockessin, DE:  http://www.gatewaygardens.com

• Harvest Market, Hockessin, DE:  http://www.harvestmarketnaturalfoods.com

• Red Tulip Gallery, New Hope, PA:  http://redtulipcrafts.com

• Wyre Naturals, North East, MD:  http://www.wyrenaturals.net

• Sarafina Fiber Art, Elkton, MD:  http://www.sarafinafiberart.com

To purchase cards, schedule a house-party, or to arrange a wholesale purchase, contact founder & artist Suzanne Gaadt at suzanne@giveafig.net.

Facebook at Give A Fig

Twitter at GiveAFig1

Give A Fig on Instagram and Pinterest

Six New Give A Fig™ cards

We’re excited to present the six new Give A Fig™ cards for 2014. They include a special, limited-edition “Celebrate the Season” holiday card. Two new birthday-specific cards feature a fire-breathing dragon and a frisbee-loving dog. Another new design inspired by my yoga friends and teachers encourages balance and calmness with “Just Breathe.” We also have a card for celebrations with a hot air balloon. It symbolizes peace in the world with a lion and gazelle sitting in the gondola enjoying a cup of coffee. Our most popular new design combines fine typography with a steaming hot cherry pie because “Love is all you need” (and maybe pie). It can be used for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year as an expression of love. We hope you enjoy the new looks as much as we do. Let us know which one is your favorite new Give A Fig™ card.

 

GAF dog front GAF snowcard GAF new balloon GAF yoga GAF dragon GAF love pie

Card Contest and Give Away!

images Give A Fig™ is looking for a few good ideas. It’s July but romance is always in season! We need YOUR help to develop a unique approach to Valentine’s Day – the most popular time of the year to tell someone YOU CARE with a card.

With a reputation for romance, it’s little wonder France has long celebrated Valentine’s Day as a day for lovers. It’s been said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. Today, Valentine’s Day cards remain a popular tradition in France and around the world.

Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day with card and gift exchanges between lovers and romantic dinners. One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy are baci perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages.

Like many parts of the world, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers and cards of love. It’s also customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14th. Women pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. In some cases, this is how South African men learn of their secret admirers.

To enter the contest, explain your concept with a unique phrase and image idea here at the Give A Fig™ website or at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. If we select yours for our Valentine card, you’ll receive a set of six Give A Fig™ cards with envelopes (a $30.00 value).

We’re also excited to announce that we’ve created four new designs including a Happy Birthday card and two Holiday cards. You’ll be the first to see our new designs this fall! As always we want to know what you think so be sure to comment.

Dive Into New Summer Reads

mermaid-Give-a-fig-cards-with-a-onsciousFor many book lovers like me, summer is the season to dive into a few new books. Whether at the beach or relaxing at home, take the plunge with one of these new releases chosen by “The Millions” as Most Anticipated for 2014. Also, scroll down for a link to great lists of Mermaid books on Goodreads.

1. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

2. Last Stories and Other Stories by William T. Vollmann

3. Mount Terminus by David Grand

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

5. The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover

6. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

7. A Place in the Country by W.G. Sebald

8. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

9. Min kamp 3 (Min kamp, #3) by Karl Ove Knausgård

10. The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham

I recommend The Invention of Wings by Kidd, also in Oprah’s Book Club. It’s the story of “Handful,” an urban slave in early 19th-century Charleston SC, and her reluctant owner, Sarah Grimke. Both women long for something larger in their worlds but are limited by society’s attitudes regarding gender and race.

If you’re lured into the watery depths in search of Mermaid books, check out these lists on Goodreads. There are plenty of Mermaid Tales for all the Fin-atics out there: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/mermaids

What’s your favorite summer read?

You’re My Hero, Dad

heroI can still see my dad lugging heavy boxes of books up several flights of stairs. His dark hair and beard made him look distinguished, even as he sweated under the weight of all my stuff. I loved his quick smile, full of wit, charm, and an impish humor. Dad was my moving man when I changed dorms in college and apartments as a young professional living in Philadelphia. I moved several times! “Why not live on the first-floor?” he’d ask but he agreed I was safer on the third. “Don’t you have enough books?” he’d laugh and his blue eyes would sparkle. Books were almost all I had (and heavy art supplies). When I got married and we moved into our first home, Dad helped haul in our new refrigerator, washer and dryer. And more books. He was much too young when we lost him. You’re my hero, Dad! Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing men in our lives.

Please share your favorite “DAD” stories!

The Opulent Peony

The opulent peony has been grown for health and beauty for thousands of years. It’s the floral symbol of China, where its roots are used to treat menstrual cramps and asthma. Chinese paintings of peonies are hung in homes and offices for good fortune. It also symbolizes wealth, honor, and success. With its luxuriant blooms and aromatic flowers, the peony is a symbol of romance and a happy marriage.

In Greek mythology, a mortal physician by the name of Paeon was given a peony flower by Leto, the mother of Apollo. He was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. When the god became jealous of Leto’s attention to Paeon, Zeus saved the man from death by turning him into the peony flower.

Each spring, I look forward to the opening of these stunning blooms on my tree peony, pictured here. What’s your favorite May flower?

opulent peony

Opulent Peony