Saturday, June 16, 2012


A case made of wood, or other matter, to hold anything.
It is distinguished from a chest, as the less from the greater.

Samuel Johnson, A dictionary of the English Language (1755)

When I was very young I went to summer day camp at a beautiful place behind the School for the Deaf and Blind in Flint, Michigan.  I have not seen the area since then but it lingers in my memory as having a valley with a meadow filled with butterflies.  I loved my adventures there and remember clearly gathering flowers and leaves and making reverse images by putting them on a sheet of paper and then spattering paint  over them using a toothbrush and a screen stretched over a wooden frame.  When the plant was lifted off the paper there was a lovely white silhouette where it had been.

Inspired by Megan Parry, who makes wonderful, complex compositions by applying a similar technique, (she uses cans of spray acrylic rather than a toothbrush and screen)  I made images of the ferns from my garden.  Using a flattened fern one can achieve quite a true idea of the structure of the plant.

I also made more mysterious versions of ferns by not flattening them and using a piece of translucent paper.  The result is not as accurate structurally because the paint gets under the object where it lifts off the paper.  It makes the fern seem much softer and more vulnerable.  In the box of ferns the two types of images are kept together.  In some cases there is hardly any difference in the look and in others they don't resemble one another at all.

A label giving the Latin and the common name is attached to the back of the more structured version.

The box that contains the images of the ferns is cardboard - something found in a store, sprayed with a product that  should deascidify it, then painted and decorated using the same method as the images in the box.  There are 19  sets of ferns using sprayed acrylic and 2 images that are cyanotypes.

Four examples of double fern images.

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