Pressing flowers from my garden is a pastime that I've enjoyed throughout the years. By using different flowers and arranging various combinations and designs, I discovered that each pressed plant possesses a unique artistic quality, which is why I always look forward to the new gardening season to discover what nature will inspire. My artwork, hopefully, recreates a flower's place in the garden, swaying in the breeze or standing tall and proud. The background papers are selected to complement the colors and textures of the botanicals.
Pressing flowers is a more traditonal type of preservation that was very popular in Victorian times. Although many flowers press well, there are always a few that do not. Full roses, poms, spires, and trumpet-shaped flowers (callas, lilies) cannot be pressed. I experimented with a different method of preservation for these full-shaped flowers using silica, a chemical drying agent. The results were amazing as they were perfectly preserved, color and shape. This type of preservation results in a more contemporary artwork or keepsake that is displayed in a shadowbox with an approximate depth of 2-3 inches, depending on the size of the flowers. This additional method of preservation changed my pastime to a career. Petal 'n Fern Impressions was started in 2011 and I have been preserving flowers ever since!
Flowers, from any occasion (wedding, anniversary, birthday, prom, funeral or memorial services, etc), can be preserved. As long as the flowers are fresh, they can be pressed for a traditional keepsake or preserved in silica for a more contemporary look. The preserved flowers can also be packaged (pressed flowers) or boxed (silica-preserved flowers) for safekeeping to enjoy for many years to come.
My pressed botanical art has been on exhibit at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA; at Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA; at the now-closed Westboro Gallery in Westboro, MA; and at ongoing exhibits presented by the Artist Guild of Shrewsbury (a member since 2006).
My new career path (former high school teacher) has given me the ability to create and exhibit my art, work in my gardens, preserve flowers, teach classes, and provide workshops and presentations on the art of floral preservation. It is the best of both worlds to work with flowers on a daily basis and to share my experiences and techniques teaching classes to others who are interested in floral preservation.
Pauline Elizabeth Bergassi ~ Shrewsbury, Massachusetts