Documenting Spring Flora, Fauna & Wetlands
This project was one of the most rewarding pieces I have ever made. It let me explore my artistic and scientific side, all the while enjoying nature. I used a collection of 4 identifying books to identify almost every plant I could find in the woods behind my house. To collect and identify the plants I went outside almost every day for 4 weeks. This gave me an opportunity to learn so much about the ecosystem behind my house. I have lived here for 12 years, but I never was able to appreciate the forest on an intimate level. Throughout my experience, I identified upwards of 50 and pressed 43+ plants.
The pressing was one of the more difficult parts of my project. I decided to press each specimen between newspaper scraps and books instead of a plant press so I would be able to press my own plants in the future. Pressing a plant can take anywhere from 5 days to two weeks, depending on the size and water content. An oak leaf would be dry in a few days, while the lily of the valley took over two weeks. After plants are dried they become very brittle, which made the book pasting very difficult. I used school glue to paste the plants onto printer paper, which I now realize is not a very good way to attach plants. If the glue stick didn’t rip the leaves and flowers they would become bend on the page or fall off completely. After a lot of trial and error, I was able to secure the plants with a copious amount of glue and sticky tape.
Even though I lost many plant samples during the process, I was able to create a piece that I was proud of. Through creating the herbarium I learned how to identify plants with a guide book, press samples, properly label and preserve the samples in a book, and see the nature around me in a new light.