Nicola Twilley at Edible Geography just posted this fascinating article about the almost lost art of apple tattooing and some new, slightly more disturbing “innovations” in designer apples. Looks like I’m going to have to get to work on a few apple stencils to put on the apples on my own trees. Who could resist a Che Guevara apple? A stencil of Johnny Appleseed is a must, of course, and maybe one of Bronson Alcott. Perhaps Liberty Hyde Bailey deserves his own apple stencil. I am open to suggestions!
Twilley tells the story of Japan’s apple stencilers:
“In 2007, Cincinnati-based artist Jane Alden Stevens spent four months in Japan, documenting the extraordinary attention its orchardists put into growing perfectly beautiful apples. In addition to culling blossoms to reduce over-crowding and ensure regular, large fruit, and then hand-pollinating them using powder-puff wands, Japanese farmers put a double-layer of wax paper bags around their baby apples for most of the growing season.”
“The bags do double duty, shielding the apples from pests and weather damage while also increasing the skin’s photosensitivity. In the autumn, a few weeks before harvest, the bags are removed — first, the outer one, revealing the fruit’s sun-deprived, pearly white skin, and then, up to ten days later, the translucent inner ones, whose different colours are chosen to filter the light spectrum in order to produce the desired hue.”
“As they are finally exposed to the elements for the final few weeks before harvest, the most perfect of these already perfect apples are then decorated with a sticker that blocks sunlight to stencil an image onto the fruit. This “fruit mark” might be the Japanese kanji for “good health,” as Susan Brown mentioned. Others have brand logos (most notably that of Apple, the company), and some, according to Stevens, are “negatives with pictures. One Japanese pop star put his picture on apples to give his entourage for presents.”
The whole piece is well worth reading!
Also check out this page of successful apple stencils the Société Régionale d’Horticulture de Montreuil.