Coin Toss Forest Design Exercise
If you’re seeking something bonsai-ish to do while socked in by a snow storm, this might be it.
I’d heard of this exercise years ago but had never tried it. While it wasn’t snowing out (it was raining), I did think this was the best thing I could do with my afternoon: take a handful of coins and toss them repeatedly on my kitchen countertop.
I think the rogue ant thought a localized earthquake was going on, and several escapee pennies made it into the sink before being rounded up, but otherwise it was a normal day in my kitchen.
The following are before and after photos of these kitchen experiments, intended to whet the whistle for forest design. You might not be led to actually compose anything that you came up with. But…
…but. There is a curious fun in taking something random, and then toying with it until it isn’t any more. Also, as this is reductive, there’s something there to begin with. We aren’t starting from a blank slate. And that builds courage.
To summarize, what we’re doing here is tossing coins, imagining them as trunks at ground level, then taking some out until we see, magically, a forest appear. Arboreal-coinage alchemy. (Used to be a thing in Medieval times.)
This was abysmal. My first attempt, static, with no flow. I was warming up…
A bit better. There’s structure there. Emphasis on one side of the design.
More air in the design.
This one was fun. Sort of an archipelago of coins. Or trunks.
If anyone is counting, you’ll likely catch me out. I wasn’t counting. There’s probably some even ones here. The top things I was paying attention to were: 1. relationship of the large trunks with the smaller ones, 2. preventing too many things in a line, 3. trying to keep the large coins near the front of the design (the bottom of the photo) for perspective, and 4. enabling spacial / asymmetrical harmony.
I’ve a client that I’ll be making a forest for soon, and now I’ve given him an image of me “working” over my sink like a shadowy Rasputin, late at night, poofs of smoke for dramatic effect, coins rolling everywhere…