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Craft

Tightly Woven Baskets Intertwine Invasive Plants and Weeds into Adorable Miniatures

July 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Suzie Grieve, shared with permission

From a single dandelion or bindweed, Suzie Grieve weaves minuscule baskets, pouches, and other wearables that are smaller than the tip of her finger. The braided vessels are the result of a lengthy, holistic process that extends from foraging the wild fibers to twisting the processed cords into durable little containers. Whether striped, checkered, or coiled in rows, each basket is a testament to Grieve’s patience and ability to adapt a traditional craft into an unusually tiny form.

Attuned to the natural rhythms of the region, Grieve harvests materials from the woodlands and fields near her home in the Lake District, U.K., with a focus on the weeds and invasive species that are often regarded as nuisances. “One of the things I enjoy most about working with wild foraged materials is the awareness it gives you of the seasons and cycles of the plants and the land,” she says. “In spring, I gather willow bark and dandelions, in summer nettles and brambles. Autumn is a mad rush of harvesting long leafy things, and in the winter, I spend what little sunlight there is foraging vines such as honeysuckle and ivy.”

 

The plants undergo a painstaking process that involves splitting the stalk, peeling out the soft and spongy pith, drying the remaining fibers, and later rehydrating the strands, a method Grieve developed while working in central France where she was tasked with lining vegetable garden with hazel. “I felt an immediate connection to the craft, the simple meditative rhythm of the weaving, the beautiful tactile way in which it allows you to connect with the land, and the feeling of self-reliance,” she says. Today, her focus is on the most abundant and hearty species, which she twists into long cords to create wide, sloping bowls, handled baskets, or pouches just big enough to fit a pebble.

In addition to creating more goods to sell in her shop, Grieve is currently working on a book detailing her techniques. She also has an extensive archive of tutorials for processing the natural fibers on her site and Instagram, where you can see more of the miniatures, too.  (via Lustik)

 

 

 



Photography

Macro Photos Spotlight the Colorful, Whimsical Plant Growths Caused by Cynipid Wasps

June 30, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Timothy Boomer, shared with permission

When an herbivorous insect like an aphid or mite needs a place to feed and reproduce, it sometimes seizes a tiny section of a plant where it establishes an abnormal growth or gall. These tissue pockets, which are spurred by a reaction in the host, provide shelter and nutrition for the creature, and although some can be unsightly blemishes, others, like these brightly colored growths of cynipid wasps, are bizarrely beautiful additions to the otherwise green leaves. Photographed by Timothy Boomer, the macro images capture the imperceptible details of the galls, which appear like fairytale-style mushroom houses, prickly sea urchins, and fuzzy, striped domes. See more of the whimsical growths, which generally only cause cosmetic damage to the host plant, on Instagram and Boomer’s site, where you can also purchase prints.

 

 

 



Art

Flora and Fauna Converge as Fantastic Hybrid Creatures in Jon Ching's Oil Paintings

June 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Mother Mycelium.” All images © Jon Ching, shared with permission

Artist Jon Ching strikes a balance between texture and color in his meticulously detailed oil paintings that make fantastic creatures—owls with plumes of mushrooms and fuzzy molds, seahorses sprouting leafy twigs, and fish with striped tulip fins—appear natural in their environments. This vague distinction between the realistic and surreal saturates Ching’s body of work, which imagines a magical ecosystem that visualizes the symbiotic relationships between flora and fauna. “I am inspired by the worldview of many Indigenous cultures that revere the natural world and see god in every aspect of our living world,” he tells Colossal. “I believe that perspective is key to their sustainable societies and one that must be reawakened in our colonized societies.”

While he dreams up the hybrid forms, the Los Angeles-based artist still roots each piece in the existing world. He has a keen sense for finding the enchanting and unusual in his own experiences, whether from watching David Attenborough documentaries or spending his childhood in Kaneohe, Hawaii. “My more surreal creatures, where the line between flora and fauna are blurred, is in part my attempt at depicting some of this unseen magic,” he writes. “By placing them in a realistic setting among species we’re familiar with, I’m envisioning them into the real world. Maybe if we look close enough or long enough, we’ll catch a glimpse of them and my work won’t seem surreal anymore.”

You can see Ching’s paintings at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles starting August 14 and find prints, stickers, and postcards in his shop. Check out his Instagram for glimpses into his process and the real-life animals and plants that shape his works. (via Iain Claridge)

 

“Sheila Ann”

“Razzle Dazzle”

“Sprite”

“Aquaria”

“Homestead”

“Nectar”

“Chasing Summer”

“Puhpowee”

 

 



Photography

A Resilient Kangaroo, Exploding Volcano, and School of Barracuda Take the Top Spots in the 2021 BigPicture Competition

June 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“New Kid in School” by Yung-Sen Wu. All images courtesy of BigPicture, shared with permission

Encompassing plumes of mushroom spores, preying venus flytraps, and an opportunistic leopard seal, the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography contest showcases the beautiful, peculiar, and resilient flora and fauna across the globe. Now in its eighth year, the annual competition, which is held by the California Academy of Sciences, is centered largely around conservation and humans’ impact on the environment. The 2021 contest garnered entries showing the profound changes to the planet in recent months alone by documenting the desolate landscape following Australian bushfires and a disposable face mask floating off the coast of California. See some of the winning shots below and all finalists on the competition’s site. (via Kottke)

 

“Hope Amidst the Ashes” by Jo-Anne McArthur

“Ice Bears” by Peter Mather

Top left: “Sign of the Tides” by Ralph Pace. Top right: “Boss” by Michelle Valberg. Bottom left: “Another Planet” by Fran Rubia. Bottom right: “Facing Reality” by Amos Nachoum

“Nutritional Supplement” by Nick Kanakis

Left: “Rain Dance” by Sarang Naik. Top right: “Running Atta” by Petr Bambousek. Bottom right: “Beak to Beak” by Shane Kalyn

“Taking a Load Off” by Nicolas Reusens

“Down the Hatch” by Angel Fitor

 

 



Photography

Natural Light Illuminates Flowers in Full Bloom in Otherworldly Photographs by Xuebing Du

May 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Xuebing Du, shared with permission

Xuebing Du finds the balance between light and shadow in her photographs that cast flowers and plants in a dreamy, refined manner. Currently based in Sunnyvale, California, Du scouts the botanical subject matter as the forms reach peak bloom, using only the natural glow from the sun to capture their vivid color. The resulting images are elegant and otherworldly and frame the soft, silky petals in a way that creates “a tone that is almost surreal and illuminated by a strong yet delicate touch of light,” she says in a statement.

Du’s photography focuses on the organic textures and supple forms of the natural world, and you can explore a larger collection of her works on Behance, Tumblr, and Instagram. Prints are available in her shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 

 



Craft

A Painstakingly Crafted Village Perches Atop a Wooden Tower in Ognyan Stefanov's Miniature Utopia

May 5, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Ognyan Stefanov, shared with permission

Bulgarian artist Ognyan Stefanov pairs his day job as an aviation photographer with an equally lofty practice of crafting lavish architectural miniatures that soar high in the air. One of his creations is this utopic village, aptly named “Skyville,” which was designed as a self-sustaining enclave complete with shops, farms and gardens, a library, and a few homes, including the main house with the individually tiled pitched roof. Posted atop a latticed tower, the heavily landscaped town was designed to mimic real functionality with a water drainage system, pulleys, and walkways that climb from level to level.

Created at a 1/87 scale and spanning 36 x 16 inches, the 60-pound model took Stefanov two years to complete and is an amalgamation of wooden stirrers, popsicle sticks, and photo-etching techniques. Each scene is crafted with meticulous detail, from the luxe interiors filled with a chandelier, wrought iron bed frame, and framed artworks to the architectural elements like the wooden beams and circular windows. Even the minuscule characters appear to be in the middle of a task.

Check out Stefanov’s page dedicated to “Skyville” to see the work in progress and more glimpses of its richly decorated interiors.