A Little Background
Healers, explorers, and spiritual leaders have been preserving plants for thousands of years, each for their own reasons. Healers preserved plants to dispense them as medicine. Explorers traveled to bring exotic species to their homes and kings far away. Spiritual leaders in King Tut’s family placed an olive branch in his tomb to protect him in the afterlife. The famous 3,000 year old olive branch can be seen at the herbarium at Kew Botanical Gardens in England. We can see the other preserved beauties at scientific institutions called Herbaria around the world.
Scientists today collect plants to preserve DNA from a disappearing natural world – the tall grass prairies of North American, the rainforests of South America, the forests of China…the list goes on. I use the same scientific principles and methods of preservation that scientists use at herbaria, institutions that house preserved plants. I learned how it’s done at some of the most important herbaria in the United States, including the ones at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and the New York Botanical Gardens.
The process has no environmental impact and results in specimen that cannot change in composition or form. I use glue developed for plants by the St. Louis Botanical Gardens, unbleached linen thread or other thread, and archival quality mat board. Often I coat everything with a matte Polymer varnish with U.V. light filters, which enriches the color and limits any effects of ambient humidity.
Once on paper, fully displayed, something new is revealed. It’s not immediately apparent that the medium is plant material. An appreciation for organic form emerges.
In Your Home
Treat your preserved plant art as you do any other fine art:
– Keep out of direct sunlight
– Avoid rooms with high humidity
– Frame only with acid-free mat board
– U.V. filtering glass is recommended