Tag Archives: plants

Fossils from Everyday Life: Plaster Cast Plant Tiles by Rachel Dein


London-based artist Rachel Dein of Tactile Studio has spent the last few years perfecting the art of plaster casting, an admittedly straightforward process of pressing objects into clay and then filling the voids with combinations of plaster and concrete. However Dein’s time spent as a prop making apprentice for the English National Opera, The Globe Theatre, and The Royal Opera House, has greatly influenced her techniques, elevating a simple craft process into something else entirely.

Dein’s plaster cast tiles can be quite large, measuring nearly 16″ square (40 x 40cm) and are composed of unusual plant life including iberis, Welsh poppies, lilac, dicentra, hellebore and others. Each cast can only be used once, so every object is one-of-a-kind. “I enjoy the magic of plaster casting to create fossils from everyday life, whether it’s a shell found on holiday, your grandmother’s treasured lace, a Christening gown, or the flowers from your wedding,” she says.

Many of her plaster tiles are available for sale in her shop, and you can explore an archive of work in this gallery. Photos by Gerard Wiseman, Rachel Dein and Andrew Montgomery. (via Lustik)












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Awesome Aquariums: Winners of the 2015 International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest

#1 (Grand Prize) Takayuki Fukada, Japan / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

While most people are satisfied with giving their pet goldfish some colorful gravel, a plastic plant, and maybe one of those bubbly treasure chests, the entrants to the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC) have turned aquarium design into an artform. The massive tanks require years of preparation and are focused almost entirely on the aesthetic presentation of plants using only natural elements.

The art of aquascaping is still a fledgling endeavor, first started in the 90s by Japanese wildlife photographer Takashi Amano. The annual IAPLC competition has grown dramatically since, with the 2015 contest seeing 2,545 entries from 69 countries. Japan, China, Brazil, and France dominate the top finalist spots (only 13 entries were from the United States). Finalists were announced in September.

The scoring of each aquarium is based on a complex matrix of six criteria: the recreation of natural habitat for fish; the creator’s technical skills; the long-term maintenance of the habitat; the originality and impression of the layout; presentation of natural layout; and the overall composition and planting ‘balance’. Participants face severe penalties for reconfiguring elements from their own past entries, stealing ideas from others, and using plants that may not last long-term in the environment presented.

This year’s grand prize winner was Takayuki Fukada from Japan with his aquarium titled Longing. You can see our previous coverage of the IAPLC here. All images courtesy IAPLC and AquaA3. (via Vice)

#2 范博文, China / Courtesy IAPLC & AquaA3

#4 Paulo Pacheco, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#5 叶毅, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#7 刘勇, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#8 タナカカツキ, Japan / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#10 Luis Carlos Galarraga, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#12 Ana Paula Cinato, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#16 张大东, China / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#19 薛海, Taiwan / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#21 Andre Longarco, Brazil / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#22 Olivier Thebaud, France / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

#23 Michaël Leroy, France / Courtesy IAPLC & Aquabase

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Artist Stan Herd Plants a 1.2-Acre Field Inspired by Van Gogh’s 1889 Painting “Olive Trees”


We’ve seen a number of interesting projects lately that attempt to bring art from inside museums into the outdoors. Artist Stan Herd has been doing just that for years by using fields as his canvas for both original compositions and interpretations of historical art. His latest work is a monumental 1.2-acre interpretation of Van Gogh’s 1889 Painting “Olive Trees” planted in Minneapolis. The piece was commissioned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and involved weeks of mowing, digging, planting, and earthscaping to create the piece viewable from the air near the Minneapolis airport. If you happen to see the piece when flying into the city, you can head to the museum to see the real thing.

Herd’s first outdoor land art piece (he refers to them as “earthworks”) was an ambitions 160-acre portrait of Kiowa Indian chief Satanta, that he physically carved into a Kansas prairie in 1981. He’s since created dozens of works around the world, and notably inspired Japanese artists in Inakadate province north of Tokyo to plant a series of incredible rice paddy artworks.

The Van Gogh field will be on view through the fall in Minneapolis, after which Herd plans to mow it down in concentric circles similar to the Dutch artists’s iconic painting style. You can read more about the piece in the StarTribune. (thnx, Randy!)





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An Underground WWII Bomb Shelter in London Has Been Converted Into the World’s Largest Subterranean Hydroponic Farm

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Over 100 feet below the bustling streets of London is a cavernous, abandoned space. Originally built to serve as a bomb shelter during World War II, it was designed to house and protect the lives of nearly 8,000 people. The space remained abandoned for close to 70 years until entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring decided to turn it into the world’s first subterranean farm called Growing Underground. And surprisingly, where the sun doesn’t shine turns out to be an ideal setting for a garden.

The vertically stacked hydroponic beds are best for growing small, leafy greens that have a short growth cycle like watercress, Thai basil and Japanese mizuna. And with a state-of-the-art computer controlling temperature, lighting and nutrients the subterranean farm can deliver consistent produce without sunlight (or pesticides!) and with 70% less water than conventional farms, hence the company’s parent name: Zero Carbon Food.

With the help of chef Michel Roux, the operation is now partnering with local restaurants to deliver farm-to-table produce in under 4 hours. Once fully operational, it’s estimated Growing Underground will be able to produce between 11,000-44,000 pounds of crops annually. (via Bloomberg)

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Green 3D Printer Prints Living Designs From Organic “Ink”


Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia, conceived of by students Maja Petek, Tina Zidanšek, Urška Skaza, Danica Rženičnik and Simon Tržan, with help from their mentor Dušan Zidar. The project’s goal is to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

The “ink” in the machine is a combination of soil, seeds, and water which can be designed to print in any shape or letter. After drying, the muddy mixture holds its form and begins to sprout grass from the organic material. PrintGREEN’s slogan is a twist on the old conservationist motto, “think before you print,” telling their audience to “print, because it is green.” You can follow the project’s progress on their Facebook page here. (via My Modern Met)








all images by PrintGREEN

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Joni Niemelä’s Macro Photographs Capture Carnivorous Plants’ Alien-Like Structures


“Drosera” photo series

Joni Niemelä captures the moments within nature often looked over, the extreme details seen best through macro photography and an imaginative eye. One of Niemelä’s photographic obsessions is the carnivorous plant Drosera, more commonly known as the “Sundew,” a nickname which refers to droplets that collect on the plant similar to morning dew.

Sundews belong to the largest genera of carnivorous plants, including more than 194 species that lure, capture, and digest insects by using glands that cover their leaves. Through Niemelä’s macro photography he is able to zoom in on each dew-like drop, adding a mystical feel to the hungry plant.

Niemelä explains, “Sundews have always fascinated me, and I have been photographing these alien-like plants for several years now. My first first photo series ‘Drosera’ was mostly bright and vibrant, so I wanted to have some contrast to that in my second series of Sundews. I think the colors and the mood of ‘Otherworldly Blues’ reflect aptly the true nature of these carnivorous plants.”

You can see more of the Finish artist’s carnivorous plant and nature photography on his Instagram and Facebook page.


“Drosera” photo series



“Drosera” photo series


“Drosera” photo series


“Drosera” photo series


“Otherworldly Blues” photo series


“Otherworldly Blues” photo series


“Otherworldly Blues” photo serie

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This Tree Created by Artist Sam Van Aken Grows 40 Different Kinds of Fruit

In 2008, while locating specimens to create a multi-colored blossom tree for an art project, artist and Syracuse University art professor Sam Van Aken had the opportunity to acquire a 3-acre orchard from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Fascinated by the practice of grafting trees since a young age, Aken began to graft buds from the 250 heritage varieties found on the orchard onto a single stock tree.

To create the Frankenstein-esque tree, Aken worked with stone fruits (fruits with pits) like peaches, plums, apricots, almonds, and nectarines. Over the course of five years he successfully grafted dozens of plants onto the same tree, and with that, the Tree of 40 Fruit project was born. Because of their similarities, all 40 fruits bud, bloom and fruit in near perfect unison.

Aken has since grafted at least 16 different “Trees of 40 Fruit” which are planted across the U.S. in places like Newton, Massachusetts; Pound Ridge, New York; Short Hills, New Jersey; Bentonville, Arkansas; and San Jose, California. Each tree is specific to its environment, using both local and antique varieties.

National Geographic recently met up with Aken to interview the artist about how he makes each tree. You can hear him talk about the project in the video above. (via Digg)








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