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Houseplant Tastemakers

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Plant Care

Jesse Goldfarb, Plant Artist, @teenytinyterra

December 12, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Canada-based plant artists – Jesse Goldfarb, aka @teenytinyterra! We came across his whimsical terrariums that he builds and wanted to know more about where his inspiration comes from. Check out our Q&A with Jesse below! photo via David Pike

Name: Jesse Goldfarb
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Plant Artist/Digital Marketer [at Hudson’s Bay]
Favorite plant:
Oh, great question. I go through little crushes with plants, but always find my way back to our
family’s Dwarf Barbados Cherry Bonsai. Making it happy enough to bloom is a fine art that is
rewarded with the sweet smell of hundreds of tiny cherry blossoms. When I first met my wife,
she had two bonsai and that’s what got me seriously into plants.

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
Sure. I grew up in Toronto. At school I was always bored; I wanted to do things rather than sit
around learning about the people who did them. My professional life has included a lot of
different jobs –– I’ve worked as a large-format screen printer, an apprentice to a corporate
events florist, a cold caller selling ads (which was actually fun), a DJ at raves and clubs (in my
heyday when I was way too young to be out all night), and spent too long in the salon industry
listening to stylists who believed they were saving the world. I ran social channels for mid-size
apparel companies before I started my current role in digital marketing. Now I do that during
the day, and play with plants evenings and weekends. I have a wonderfully patient wife and
daughter and another daughter on the way.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed, @teenytinyterra?
@teenytinyterra is an outlet for me to share my creativity with terrariums, plants, moss and
everything tiny. I like to have fun with it and keep things fresh. 90% of my posts are shot from a
lighting shelf I installed aquarium lights on. As my plants are all very small, using this platform
makes it easy to move things around and create a different feel for each photo. My south-
facing kitchen windowsill is also a favorite spot for shooting, as the light is perfect for two hours
every day. (Timing a quick shoot using natural light is always a juggling act with a young family.)

What’s a secret skill you have?
I can whistle five different ways? Is that a skill? (Editor’s note: YES!)

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
When I turned 18, my dad took me out for a birthday dinner with my grandparents. After the
main course he gave me a tiny model of a vintage Vespa. I thought it was great and all, but then
he threw me a set of keys to a full-size 1967 Vespa. It was a dream to drive when it worked
(which was 60% of the time). My love for both miniatures and Vespas began that day. Now I
own a 2005 150 cc Vespa. Every model manufactured after that year doesn’t seem to have the
brand’s classic look and feel.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
If I was alone I’d grab a picture of my mother. She died when I was four years old and all I have
to remember her are some photos. If I was home with the fam, I’d throw them over my shoulder and jet out the door. I assume you want me to say plants, but they came from the earth and would be happy to feed other plants as ash.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Booking our family holiday to our favorite place in Mexico, Azul Fives, cleaning up after a
terrarium workshop I held over the weekend, watering plants, going ice skating with my
daughter, making bread pudding for a work event called Bakemas, and watching Christmas
movies on the couch with a few strong rum and eggnogs.

Do you have a “green thumb”?
Yes, but I believe everyone does. It’s about how much you want to invest in making your thumb
green, not if you naturally have one. When people say “I kill everything” it’s actually due to a
lack of interest.

Any plant care tips you can share?

  • Easy on the water, bro! Think of it this way: a person can live close to a week without water, but they’d die if submerged for more than three minutes. Your plants need air too, so don’t
    drown them.
  • Know your space and the light within it… Buy plants to suit that light.
  • Don’t buy a plant without knowing how much light it needs. It’s easier to adjust other conditions, but not as easy to adjust light.
  •  If you name your plants or dress up a dog, it’s time to start thinking about having a kid.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
More space and better light.
By the way, where do you shop for plants?
Sheridan Nurseries, Vallyview Gardens, Kim’s Nature and Plant World.

Favorite hobby: Cooking; Plants
Favorite television show: Currently? Stranger Things
Favorite movie: Cronos
Favorite food: Burrito (Duh, it has all four food groups)
Favorite weekend activity: Chilling with the family
Favorite home decor store: Thrift stores

Thank you so much, Jesse! Follow his Instagram page here if you would like. 

P.S Check out how Jesse builds a terrarium here under 24 seconds (not really though ;)).

P.P.S You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournaland the lovely plant couple @warsawjungle

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview, Plants on TV

Liz Kirby, Host and Author, The Indoor Garden

November 8, 2017

For our latest tastemaker series, we are so honor to introduce you to Liz Kirby. We were first introduced to her by a fellow workshop attendant, we were soon hooked on Liz’s genuine personality and informative plant care tips on her Youtube channels. Liz was in the plant world before the #urbanjubgle was even a thing. She is the plant lady you definitely don’t want to miss out! 

Meet Liz

 Name:  Liz Kirby

Location:  Arlington, VA

Occupation:  Realtor, Host of “The Indoor Garden” TV series and Author of the corresponding blog

Favorite Plant:  I have such a great appreciation, in general, for all plants that I just can’t say that I have a favorite. I have favored Aralias and orchids for my home.                                         

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?   Like many eighteen-year-olds,   I did not know what I would want to study in college. Fortunately, after I graduated from high school, a friend of mine who sold wholesale plants from Florida had the thought that I might enjoy a job in a plant store and he found one for me.  So I did that instead of getting a college degree. I truly enjoyed working there with great people who taught me a lot about indoor plants. I ended up working in the horticulture and floriculture field for twenty-five years.

For those who haven’t watched The Indoor Garden on YouTube, can you share a little bit about the series?  The idea was conceived around 1988. For a long time, I felt that the general public did not get very good specific instructions on growing houseplants. There were some books but  sometimes they just got vague or even wrong instructions. Lots of good experience and a few good  books were my best teacher.  I met many customers who truly believed they could not grow plants and I was sure they could. I thought doing a television series on the care and appreciation of indoor plants would be a great way to share what I had learned. It aired for three years on a local PBS station. When YouTube came along I saw the opportunity to share plant care all over again. The show was videotaped but translates pretty well to a digital format.

What’s a secret skill you have?   I don’t think I have any that I would keep a secret. One skill I have and wish I used more, is that I can very easily come up with a harmony to many songs. It’s one skill I couldn’t teach, it just comes naturally.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?   Friendship

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?   The living things

What’s on your to-do list today?   Some housekeeping, getting the hummingbird feeder out, finding a rental apartment for a lovely woman from New Jersey and to catch up on correspondence

What is your favorite plant and why?  It’s difficult to pinpoint one but since I began learning about them, I’ve thought that ferns were amazing. They make you think. As best we know, they have lived on the earth longer than just about any other group of plants. You can find them all over the world. They appear somewhat delicate and fragile, but are they?

Do you have a “green thumb”?  I do now. I had to cultivate it, so that enabled me to encourage others that they could too. I heard many times from others that they did not have a ‘green thumb” and I just don’t accept that. I truly believe anyone who wants to, can develop that skill.

Any plant care tips you can share?  Watering plants once a week is not a good rule of thumb. It’s usually best to start out with hardier varieties if you are just beginning to learn how to grow plants. Get good instructions and look for an expert if your plant is not doing well. Most plants will recover and thrive with the right instructions.  

What tops your houseplant wish list?  If I had the space, I would love a cymbidium orchid.

How did The Indoor Garden television series start?   I befriended a television producer who had a local TV series airing in the area. I had the thought that a television series could be a great way to teach what I had learned about indoor plants, so I started looking into how to make that possible.

Do you have a favorite episode or show memory?  I especially enjoyed having guests on the show. It was quite easy to work with them.

Do you think there’s been a resurgence interest of houseplants recently?  It seems to be going that way. There are many different types of retail outlets and online places that have been selling plants for a long time. I do believe they’d stop if interest was low.

Any words of advice for plant novices?   Don’t give up if you aren’t very successful at first. There are many easy-to-grow plants and you may want to buy your first plants at a plant store, garden center or nursery where someone should be informed enough to help you choose a plant that suits you. For example, a busy person may want a large plant that doesn’t need water often. Make sure your plants are placed in the best light situation for your particular plant. Find out how to water them properly.  Those two aspects of care, light and correct watering, are most important to success.

Thank you so much, Liz!

PS: Check out more of our tastemakers series here 

 

 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki, @warsawjungle

October 25, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Poland-based artists and plant lovers – Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki! We came across their Instagram and wanted to know more about their inspiration for incorporating plants into their living space. Check out our Q&A with Beata and Remek below! 

Name(s): Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki

Location: Warsaw, Poland

Occupation: Beata is a visual artist, Remek occupies himself with sounds

Favorite Plant: Beata: rose geranium, Remek: mirabelle plum tree

Can you share a little bit of background about yourselves? 

Beata: I work with visual arts such as photography and video. I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Recently in my artistic work I focus on exploring the history of the war that happened in the 90s in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I work in music marketing company.

Remek: I deal with sound, record it, create it, destroy it, transform it. I produce music, record artists, do sound design, mix songs, write songs, score animations, play instruments. Whatever’s needed.

Together we made an exhibition of photography, video and sound (entitled „Nienaturalnie“). We created „Warsaw Sound Postcards“ – a series of ten playable vinyls with field recordings and photos of the places where the sound was recorded. We also made a short film about greenery in Warsaw for Goethe-Institut.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed – @warsawjungle

Warsaw Jungle is a platform of exchanging inspirations which unites enthusiasts of plants, photography and interior design. Most often we upload photographs made in our little one-room apartment, which is quite a challenge for creativity – it’s not easy to make a new picture in the same 24 square metres. We also present photos made in homes of our families, friends, as well as pictures sent to us by Warsaw dwellers. We want to show through our blog that living in city doesn’t mean losing contact with nature.

What’s a secret skill you have? 

Beata: I‘m never fed up with vacuum cleaning.

Remek: My secret skill is keeping secrets.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? 

Beata: It was my dachshund, Maja. I received her when I was 9 years old, we spent together almost 15 years.

Remek: I’m not really a presents person, I’m happy being absent 😉

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? 

Beata: I hope it won’t! But if, I’d grab albums with photographs and portable disks (with photographs too). Without photographs, my memory would be lost. If I had more time, I would take plants. Photography and plants are my two loves.

Remek: Can’t decide. It’s everything or nothing, either you have the whole space, or you don’t. It’s the presence that makes the space important. Would be nice to catch a plant or two though, after all they are living organisms.

What’s on your to-do list today? 

Beata: Working, learning Croatian, cooking, preparing photographs and texts for upcoming exhibitions and hyggelig. And of course – vacuuming!

Remek: Buying fruit and vegetables for half of the week, working on songs of some artists, organizing a rehearsal, preparing a sound installation for an upcoming exhibition.

What is your favorite plant and why? 

Beata: I love a lemon scented geranium because of nice smell and good properties it has. I love to take a bath with a geranium oil.

Remek: I prefer the big wild ones, which are defined as trees. Preferably the ones with leaves rather than needles. Oaks are nice. They don’t care, and they won’t be bothered. I like their calmness. Of course the tropical ones are cool because some of them give nice fruit, or have spikes.

Do you have a “green thumb”? 

Beata: In our one-room city-center apartment we really have a tiny jungle. Not all plants accommodated well to that conditions, I had to send some of them to my mum, but overall yes, I do have a green thumb.

Remek: I’m sure I do, I just always forget to use it.

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Beata: First thing – don’t overwater the plants, second – talk to them and tell them compliments when they grow. And take photos of them, plants are living creatures, they grow, develop, you can compare how they do.

Remek: Don’t forget about taking care of the plants if you have any, that’s my tip for beginners.

 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

Beata: The list is long, and the space in the apartment limited. But in a bigger space, my first choice would be cooking banana. Then I would bake a banana cake!

Remek: A cooking banana would be nice. One step closer to the garden of Eden…

Where do you shop for plants? 

Beata: The nicest way to get something new is to exchange the seedings with friends and family. Also sometimes I’d steal leaves that I’d later plant from for example stairways, or offices. A good place to go and buy plants are the wholesale stores at the outskirts of Warsaw.

Remek: I swear I had no idea that Beata steals plants. I have nothing to do with this!

Favorite hobby

Beata: I had problems with defining what my hobby is (which are visual arts, but this is also my occupation) until I’ve grown serious interest in plants, which are my real hobby.

Remek: If hobby is something that one does in one’s free time than my hobby is doing nothing, but I don’t have time for that.

Favorite food

Beata: Potatoes. Really! And my mum’s cake called karpatka (Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake).

Remek: Peanut butter. Peanuts. Nuts.

Favorite weekend activity

Beata: Outdoor activities such as nordic walking, swimming in lakes, riding a bike.

Remek: Going deep into the forest. And listening to the frogs when it’s spring.

Thank you so much, Beata and Remek! Follow their Facebook page here if you would like. 

PS: You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournal and plant illustrator @studioplants!

(All photos via Beata and Remek.)

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Jeannie Phan, Illustrator, Freelance

October 13, 2017

Meet Jeannie Phan, an editorial illustrator residing in Toronto, Canada, with her furry best friend, Odin. Jeannie immediately captured our hearts with her picture-worthy and plant-filled apartment when we stumbled upon her on Instagram. Then we realized that she is also an amazing illustrator with a cult following. Swoon. 

Headshot by Dawn Kim

Name: Jeannie Phan
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Freelance Illustrator
Favorite Plant: Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise)

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
I’m above all, an artist, which explains why I can’t help but keep my hands moving and picking up things like plant care, home organization (or really, just the obsessive re-arranging of bric-a-brac) and DIY projects. If you’re into the Meyers-Briggers personality typing, I’m an INTJ, but far from a mathematician.
Originally, I’m from a small city in the prairies of Canada (Winnipeg), born from immigrant parents who brought us up on resourcefulness and appreciation of the outdoors. Although, I’d say I’m a definite late-bloomer in the latter, to the surprise of many! Currently, I hang out in the bustling city of Toronto with my feline best friend, Odin, and an uber supportive life partner. I work, live and grow in a home
studio.

Can you share a little bit about your art?
Sure, my art has developed from being highly ornate to now a body of work that appreciates the simpler forms of people, objects, and places. Hilariously, unlike my personal life, which is buttered in neutrals, my art is colourful, bathed in saturated primaries and overlayed with the colours inbetween. I’m an optimistic person with a dark sense of humour and I like to think my work radiates some of that, particularly with my personal series. To get to the nitty gritty, I’m primarily an editorial illustrator that draws for publications globally. But I also do work in advertising and have a few influencer
campaigns under my belt (I love social media!).

What’s a secret skill you have?
I have an incredible ability to forget birthdays.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
You know, I have to say when my friend Justine (@patternsandportraits) gifted me with my very first plants, which were two succulents I couldn’t even tell you the name of. I killed one overnight by suffocating it bare-root in a bag (yup…) and the other rotted. I give huge thanks to Justine and my other friend Elaine for really planting the seed with this whole plant obsession. If it wasn’t for that gift and a huge stubbornness to redeem myself, I probably wouldn’t be as big of a plant nerd. Thanks Justine!

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
My cat Odin, of course!! I have a thing where I don’t put a lot of value in physical objects so everything can burn, and so long as my loved ones are safe, that’s all I need. But alright, if I had to pick something physical, I’d grab my hard drive because it’s the lifeline to my work and an archive of a lot of priceless photos.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Work out. I’ve been really into fitness this year (after years of failed attempts) and valuing self care. Not only is being a freelance illustrator mentally straining, but it physically chips away at your body from hours of drawing at a table. So every day I’ll either go for a walk, jog, or pump some iron.

What is your favorite plant and why?
Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise) because it’s one of my oldest surviving tropicals. It was with me when I was a budding plant enthusiast not knowing what it wanted and stuck by when I became better versed with plants. Thankfully, like a trooper, it survived our move and grows bigger (it’s over 6ft tall!) and even prouder. The giant paddles for foliage strelitzia have are no short of majestic. It transcends me into a different world and I’ll often just sit and stare at it while having my morning coffee.
Do you have a “green thumb”? Not naturally, no. People are always surprised when I say I’m a former plant murderer because my mom had a beautiful garden, and I show my love for plants like we’ve been best friends since grade school. But, it just goes to show that anyone can learn the language of plants and appreciate nature, even if it’s not woven within their DNA.

Any plant care tips you can share?
Shower your plants one a month. Much less often for dessert plants of course, but your tropicals, like your garden plants, appreciate some “rain” even if it’s not actually from the outdoors. It helps clear dust, flush out the soil, and keeps pests at bay. Good circulation and adequate light is key afterwards though! To properly dry out the soil.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
I’d love a variegated monstera deliciosa but I’m much more of a plant opportunist, so I gather plants I like when I see them and seldom “hunt” for them. I have enough plants as is!

When did you start illustrating?
I started freelance illustrating full-time in 2013 but I was drawing since I was a kid. I went to art school at OCAD University here in Toronto, and graduated in 2012 with a bachelors. After working at a concept shop/gallery on Queen West or about a year, I decided to dive into freelancing full-time. I started off doing layout design as a graphic designer, but lost interest in it so I finally pushed to just do art 100% of the time. And here I am today!

Do you have a favorite illustration or project?
Recently, it’s the Acqua di Parma influencer campaign I did where I visualized all the scents in their Blu Mediterraneo collection. This collection was inspired by natural botanical ingredients and I just couldn’t imagine a more perfect project to mesh my love of plants and art. You’ll see the sketches for this project pinned on my wall as a momento. They were also kind enough to send me all the perfumes, so you can catch me swimming in the scent of citrus fruit or figs almost everyday.

What inspires you?
Nature, long conversations with friends, my cat.

Any words of advice for those looking to do their passion full-time?
No risk, no reward. You can be strategic in finding a way to freelance full-time but don’t lay plans that are too concrete (because this is a profession that’s fluid) and don’t let it paralyze you. Sometimes, jumping in and learning to swim is the best way. One thing I also really want to stress is, when your passion becomes your job, the dynamics of this relationship shifts. I have classmates from art school that realize that they don’t actually want a career that involves drawing 24/7. They want to be strategic thinkers, or creative in another way. Look at the core ability of what you’re passionate about and be open minded in what skills that can be applied to and maybe that’s a 9-5 job, maybe not. Disregard the topical idealism certain freelance professions have because that shiny coating wears out quickly after a few years.

Thank you so much, Jeannie! Following Jeannie on Instagram: @jeanniephan and @studioplants

P.S. More women share their plant passion, including an artist and a jewelry designer

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Stressed? Plants are The Answer – by Carrie Ingoglia

September 28, 2017

We are thrilled to feature a guest post by Carrie Ingoglia on why incorporating plants and meditation into your life is important.

If you’ve been feeling any stress lately, you’re not alone. There’s a lot going on in the world of ours.

Maybe you’re constantly running through your to-do list. You feel impatient or frustrated. You have trouble sleeping or digesting. Or maybe you get stuck endlessly scrolling through your social feeds (This morning I went to look up the weather, and 20 minutes went by while I checked Twitter and Instagram. Meanwhile, I totally forgot to look at the weather.)

No matter how stress manifests for you, nature offers a biological antidote that we often forget.

We’re built to respond to the seasons and the natural environment —being close to nature helps us go with the flow. But because our daily lives are often so far removed from the natural world, it’s easy to feel disconnected. Luckily, you don’t have to immerse yourself in bioluminescent pools or spend hours forest bathing to get the positive effects of nature.

WHAT DOES STRESS DO?

When we are stressed, our bodies react by turning on our “fight or flight” response. This is a chemical response that makes our hearts beat faster, our breathing get faster and more shallow, and our digestion slow, redirecting energy to the big muscles of the body so we can run away or stand our ground against the tiger that’s chasing us through the forest.

The problem is, our body doesn’t know the difference between a very real threat from an animal of prey and a message on social media that makes us angry or defensive. It reacts with the same stress response to a tiger or a tweet. And being in a constant state of fight or flight is exhausting and can lead to all sorts of ailments big and small.

JUST BREATHE

The good news is, the stress response has a built-in counter balance. We can reverse the whole thing, and we can do it just by breathing. Becoming aware of your breath has a way of getting us out of our heads and into our bodies. Deep breathing is known to slow the heart rate and helps bring us down from fight or flight.

Our breath and our bodies are our instant connection back to the present moment. By paying attention to that, we can more easily come back down to earth — no matter where we are.

HERE’S WHERE THE PLANTS COME IN

Adding natural elements to our daily lives can help us feel more connected and less stressed out.

It’s no surprise that a hike helps calm us down. Or that gardening can be used as a kind of meditation. In fact, according to Psychology Today, several scientific studies have shown the presence of houseplants has been found to be lower blood pressure, increase focus, and lower anxiety in schools, at work, and even in hospitals. (Learn more about the benefits of indoor plants here.) 

Plants help keep us grounded when we’re all up in our heads.

THREE WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS:
  • Take three deep breaths.

This one is easy and you can do it anywhere. But it may take some practice. Wherever you are, pause. Sit or stand with your feet planted on the ground and let your spine be long. Breathe in through your nose to the count of three. Then breathe out through your nose to the count of five. Do this three or more times and see how you feel.

  • Go for a walk outside.

Even if you’re not in the woods or on the beach, just being outside can help make us feel more connected. If you’re at work, try going for a walk around the block without your phone. Stand on the corner waiting for the bus without checking your email. Spot a little dandelion sprouting through the cracks in the sidewalk. Just be outside.

  • Do a guided plant meditation.

Spend some quality time with whatever plants you have around you, whether it’s a big Fiddle Leaf Fig or a tiny succulent. Luckily, you’ve got a guided meditation right here to help start you on you’re way.

 

Thank you so much, Carrie! Have you ever meditated (and do you have plants around you when you do it)? What else would you add? 

PS Carrie is a yoga teacher and the writer + producer of the podcast, Yoga For the Revolution

PPS Find our plant picks that will purify air while you meditate HERE!

 

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Plant History, Style Tips

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston

July 5, 2017

Isabella Stewart Gardner was an art collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. She was also a regular in the newspaper gossip columns, for her eccentric and, at the time, scandalous behavior and tastes. The Globe’s Jack Thomas writes: “There was only one Isabella Stewart Gardner, which is too bad, for nobody was better at shocking Boston society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…” (Fenway Park, John Powers, P 37).

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1888), by John Singer Sargent. This painting was considered provocative at the time because of the low neckline and pearls around the waist.

Isabella Stewart was born in New York City on April 14th, 1840. At the age of 18, her former classmate Julia Gardner invited her to Boston, when she met Julia’s brother John Lowell “Jack” Gardner. Three years her senior, he was considered one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors. They were married two years later, and moved into a home at 152 Beacon Street in Boston.

After the death of her two year old son from pneumonia, learning she could not bear any more children, and the death of her close friend/sister-in-law, Gardner became depressed and ill. Her doctors advised that Jack bring her to Europe to improve her health and lift her spirits. The trip had the desired effect – when Gardner returned to Boston, she was as vibrant as ever.

Inside one of the galleries surrounding the courtyard at the Gardner Museum.

The Gardners’ frequent travels allowed them to put together a world-class art collection of paintings, statues, tapestries, silver, ceramics, stained glass, and more. Although already enlarged once, they struggled to fit their collection into their Beacon Street house. But Isabella realized their shared dream of building a museum after Jack’s sudden death in 1898. She purchased the land in Boston’s marshy Fenway area, and was involved in every aspect of the design and building process. The museum opened in 1903. Its glass-covered garden courtyard was the first of its kind in America.

The glass ceiling above the museum’s courtyard garden.

Isabella died in July of 1924 at the age of 84. She is buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but her vibrancy lives on at the Gardner Museum in Fenway. The museum is home to a world-renown collection of more than 2,500 works of art. Artists represented include Rembrandt, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Degas, Raphael, Matisse – and more. But one of the most astonishing works of art on display is the museum’s interior courtyard…

Four walls, four stories tall, surround the museum’s enclosed courtyard garden.

A living work of art, the plants on display in the Courtyard change seasonally.

Despite how lush the courtyard looks, the environment isn’t ideal for plants. “The UV light filtering glass and humidity levels are appropriate for artworks but not plants,” the Museum points out. “It takes hard work to keep the garden looking spectacular.”

One way the gardeners keep the courtyard looking fresh is through a technique called ‘successive gardening’. The plants, a majority of which are in pots, are continuously rotated so they’re only in the courtyard when in peak condition. When not on display, the plants are nurtured in an offsite greenhouse, and then onsite greenhouse. There are nine different plant displays throughout the year.

Here’s what plants I spotted on my recent visit…

Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ (Dracaena deremensis) and Philodendron xanadu

Norfolk Island Pine Tree

Tree Ferns (Cyathea australis), Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis), and Orchids

Looking into the lush courtyard through a first floor window.

What plants do you spot?

Don’t forget to check out the museum’s greenhouse, which houses some of the courtyard’s potted plants when they’re not on display, on your way out! (We’ll be sharing photos of our favorite plants from inside the envy-inducing greenhouse next so stay tuned.)

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Having Pets AND Plants

June 22, 2017

We interviewed a few of our team members that are parents to both pets *and* plants for their top tips about keeping the peace in a jungle-like apartment… 

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Above is Tweeks, one of our Marketing Director Erin’s cats, sharing her favorite sill with a few potted plants! 

MEET ANGELA, PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Angela Muriel

PETS: I have 5 cats living in my apartment. I got involved doing some TNR (trap, neuter, return) volunteer work in my Crown Heights neighborhood and in the process found an abandoned litter of kittens. I was able to get a few adopted but a couple still remain in my care so they are now a part of my crew.

Cisco _ Helios (Angela)

PLANTS: I currently have a Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata), a Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) and several terrariums. I always keep a flat of grass for all the kitties to enjoy and to provide them with some nature.

TIPS: Cats will find their way into just about anything and are incredible climbers. My large plants are in hanging baskets out of their reach and of course the terrariums are enclosed in glass so they can’t get to those (ha ha!). I am able to enjoy a huge variety of plants in the terrariums, as well as create a whole environment in miniature form.

Sally on grass (Angela)

I have reviewed many poisonous plant lists and quite frankly if one were to adhere closely to them your choices would be really limited (find all our non-toxic plants here). One thing to keep in mind is that with many plants the animal would have to ingest a substantial amount to become ill. It is most important to observe the behaviour of your pet in regards to your plants. Many pets will simply ignore the greenery, where as others may be attracted to certain leaves or growth habits. That said, there are certain plants that can be fatal if eaten i.e. Sago Palm (not a “true palm” but a Cycad which are a primitive group), some plants from the Euphorbia family which produce a milky sap when cut, a few Aroids especially the Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) and any bulb plants such as Lilies, Hyacinth, Daffodil, Amaryllis, etc.

Never assume that an animal will instinctively “know” which plant is “good” or “bad” and this isn’t any measure of their intelligence. Our pets are domesticated animals and so much of nature is just not in their realm of experience. A good pet owner will just have to practice keen observation.

 

MEET PEGGY, SHOP MANAGER

NAME: Peggy Lu

PETS: I have a 2-year-old French Bulldog, Olivia, and a 10-month-old cat, Mia, who my husband rescued off the street.

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PLANTS: I cohabit with probably 40ish plants now. Most of them are air-purifying plants – Fern, Snake plant, ZZ plant, Pothos, Ivy, Philodendron, Spider plant, terrarium plants, and many cacti and succulents – that I bought since I started working at The Sill. Yes, I am that girl who wants to put her plants to work: providing fresh oxygen.

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TIPS: My dog, Olivia, could not care less about plants, the one I had trouble with was my kitty, Mia. She is only a baby – she has so much energy in her. She bites and swaps my plants ALL THE TIME. It used to bother me a lot; however, I realized she only does it out of boredom or when she is in a playful mood. I’ve learned some tips that hopefully will help your pet and your plants live in harmony:

1. Buy cat grass. Bonus: you’ve got another plant!
2. Don’t discipline your pet when they’ve chew/attacked you plants. Especially cats will react to negative and positive reinforcement the same. Trust me, they will do it while you sleep. I pretend to not see it while Mia is at it now, and quietly clean up after her while she is not looking.
3. Try a citrus spray! Dogs and cats do not like anything that is in citrus family. Bonus: your home will not only will look nice with plants, but it will smell amazing too!
4. Play with them! Enjoy one-on-one time and tire them out. A happy and tired dog/cat will leave things alone.
5. Live with it. I’ve learned to live with imperfect foliages. Overall, It is your pet’s home too!
6. Do your research before buying a plant – both for the health of the plant and your lovely companions at home.

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MEET CATHERINE, OPERATIONS + PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Catherine Cummings

PETS: I recently adopted a kitten from the Somerset County Shelter in NJ to grow my little family! Her name’s Lana after the character on Archer. She’s non-stop energy and endlessly curious.

PLANTS: My house is filled with plants of all kinds, including hanging pothos and philodendrons, cacti, succulents, ferns, etc. I’ve completely lost track of how many I have at this point, but they cover every available surface…

TIPS: I keep most plants up out of her reach on shelves mounted on the walls. The plants that take over the windows I always make sure are safe for pets, such as haworthia succulents and bromeliads. She’s never shown any interest in chewing any of them – and I make sure she has plenty to keep her busy while I’m gone by leaving out boxes and new things for her to explore. Luckily she’s more interested in trying to catch my fish than chewing on the plants!

 

MEET SARINA, PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Sarina Perez

PETS: My chubster, Gideon. I adopted him after a former roommate found a box of kittens in the dumpster three years ago. Back home, we have a dog named Cash who lives in my mom’s country garden on the outskirts of San Antonio.

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PLANTS: I have around 30 houseplants, but unfortunately only one window in my LES apartment’s living room. My bedroom is actually subterranean. Thankfully through my time working at The Sill I’ve found there are so many types of plants that can tolerate moderate to low-light situations. I have a lot of philodendron and pothos variations, snake plants, a few broadleaf ferns, and palms.

Being a Texas native – I really miss all the cacti that line the streets, so I cram what I can into the biggest spots on my window. I love large plants, so I have a nice big rubber tree (Ficus elastica), Philodendron vellum, and Monstera deliciosa right by the window. My mom has everything from a prickly pear cactus over 7ft tall, to ivy, to begonias, to elephant ears, to palm trees. Cash pulls some weeds every now and then – but he also loves to nap amongst them.

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TIPS: Gideon loves hiding behind the large ones and jumping out to scare me. Also has been known to nap under the wide leaves of my monstera, which I totally understand. Sometimes when he is mad at me though he will dig the soil of the larger plants. I’ve found that if I put a few large rocks on top of the soil, he won’t do it again. If you’re thinking about getting a cat – I would keep small plants off the edges of your shelves and tables, since they’re bound to knock a few over. If you notice your pet going around a certain plant, try surrounding it with a few potted cacti…

 

MEET JENNA, SHOPKEEPER + PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Jenna Kohl

PETS: I have two Siberian cats named Munch and Finn. I adopted them from the Meow Parlour a few blocks away from The Sill shop. My boyfriend named them after detectives on Law and Order SVU.

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PLANTS: I have over one hundred plants the last time I counted; they are everywhere. Luckily, my apartment has space to fill, so it doesn’t look overwhelming – i.e., there is still room for more plants. I have snakes and aglaonema in a hall with low light. Then scattered everywhere else are monstera, ponytail palm, pilea peperomioides, calathea, aralia, a lot of pothos and philodendron, fiddle leaf fig tree, peperomia, fern, and the list goes on.

TIPS: If you’ve got a furry nibbler like mine are, the ASPCA has lists of toxic plants that are worth looking at, and The Sill has a special pet-friendly, i.e. non-toxic, collection page. All my toxic plants live either on high shelves, kitchen cabinets, plant stands, or a wardrobe. My cats aren’t great jumpers so they don’t even attempt to get them. The accessible plants are all pet friendly; if they chew on one I don’t have to worry. I also deter them with wheatgrass which is good for their digestion.

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MEET RACHEL, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Rachel Lyons

PETS: Peloton Seelyons

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PLANTS: My Brooklyn apartment houses a few Monstera deliciosa, Pothos, Bird of Paradise, Agave, Schefflera, Prickly Pear Cactus, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Calathea, Xerographica, Boston Fern, Orchids, Snake Plants, Jade, and much much more…

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TIPS: My 1.5 year old barn kitty rescue rarely tries to eat any of the plants. He was raised with them from a tiny kitten, so for Pelo it’s more about using the greenery to get my attention – by rustling leaves, teetering terra cotta, or snapping branches in the early morning hours to say ‘feed me now’. Sometimes he’ll chew my aloe, which is toxic, but he never swallows it or shows signs of distress. Don’t let feline friends ruin the bliss of having houseplant friends. Put up shelving, get creative and wall-mount your greens. Or have one sacrificial non-toxic plant that takes the pouncing each day so that the others can flourish safely.

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MEET ROBYN, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Robyn Moore

PETS: My dog Disco!

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PLANTS: Succulents, Cacti, a Snake Plant, an Avocado Tree (yes…!), an Aglaonema, and assorted Ferns

TIPS: I keep all my plans up high (countertops, planter stands, shelves, etc.) so Disco is less likely to be distracted by them. I have friends who have had issues with their dogs eating more toxic items – like bad foods, or garbage – but plants have never been an issue. Dogs are smarter than cats (sorry…) and will leave it alone once they realize it doesn’t taste good or make them feel good! It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior. Most often, the warning signs of consumption are clear and rarely fatal. But it’s always best to just avoid any occurrence – if your dog is prone to chewing, stay away from plants with a latex-like sap (pencil cactus, rubber plant, ZZ).

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P.S. Shop our team’s favorite pet-friendly houseplants.

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Yanna Garecka, Jewelry Designer, Squidlicks

June 13, 2017

Meet our June Houseplant Tastemaker – Squidlicks jewelry designer and orchid mom Yanna Garecka! 

NAME: 
Yanna Garecka

LOCATION: 
Northern Virginia

OCCUPATION: Kitchen Manager by night. Graphic Design Student by day. Jewelry Designer in-between.

FAVORITE PLANT: Orchids!

Can you share a little bit about yourself – and your jewelry? Thanks to apples not falling far from trees – my whole life I have been fascinated both by art and nature, specifically geology and botany. I grew up with my plant-hoarding, oil-painting mother constantly reciting names of plant to me as we would pass them by. My fascination with jewelry design began as a therapeutic hobby when I was a struggling in my teenage years, which quickly lead me to selling bright and bold collage necklaces on the beta era of Etsy in 2006. These pieces usually featuring plastic toys such as squids and bugs. Over the years I have experimented with many mediums. Three years ago I feel in love with eco-resin and haven’t stopped since.

What’s a secret skill you have? 
I can make balloon animals.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? 
My boyfriend made me candles – shaped and carved like the stones from the 5th Element (we are sci-fi nerds, one of our favorite movies). Everyone who recognizes them in our home gets very excited.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? 
I would grab my cats of course! Boo and Grey – jewelry is replaceable, they aren’t!

What’s on your to-do list today? Catching up on social media posts today. Tend to my cats, plants, and then go into my night job, which is running a kitchen in music venue.

What is your favorite plant and why? 
Orchids! All my life I have struggled to keep them alive and I have finally cracked the code.

Do you have a green thumb? 
Any plant care tips you can share? 
Over all you could say I have a green thumb, honestly it’s all a matter of timing your watering, and not overwatering.

What tops your houseplant wish list? The thing to top my houseplant wish list would be for Grey Kitty to stop chewing and eating all my plants so I don’t have to put them in strange cat inaccessible places. That would be great. 

What or who inspires you? The overall impression of mosses and lichens in resin remind me a lot of natural resin – amber. My family is Polish, and one thing Polish people like as much as potatoes and pickles is beautiful glowing amber. More then anything though, I love the color green. I love forests carpeted with moss and rocks living with lichens. I want to capture those elements into a piece of wearable jewelry, just like how people like to keep terrariums in their homes.

Thank you so much, Yanna! Follow Yanna & Squidlicks on Instagram here

(All photos are taken by Yanna.)

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Darryl Cheng, @houseplantjournal

May 8, 2017

Our team has been a huge fan of the Instagram feed @houseplantjournal since we can remember, so we’re thrilled to finally feature the man behind the feed, Toronto-based Darryl Cheng, in this edition of our Tastemakers series

MEET DARRYL CHENG

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Who is Darryl Cheng? 
By day, I’m a business analyst for a tech company. In general, my job is to understand client requirements before delivering a product. By nights/weekends, I spend time with my fiancee; take care of my plants; play music (piano, vocal, guitar – I’m the music director at my church); play sports with my brother/friends; play with my niece.

What’s your ideal ‘happy place’?
A garden nursery of tropical plants.

Darryl plant hunting

What’s your favorite thing about living in Toronto?
Definitely the variety of neighborhoods. I work in the bustling downtown area but live in a peaceful, yet accessible suburb.

What T.V. show do you love to binge watch?
Star Trek Voyager

What can’t you leave your house without?
My iPod. Yes, I still use one for music.

Have you always dreamt about working with plants?
I still do since I’m technically not paid to work with them. If The Sill comes to Toronto, please hire me!

Darryl in his element!

Can you explain what the House Plant Journal is and how it started? 
House Plant Journal is the result of my love for photography and house plants. The thing I love most about plants is how they grow and become a long-term friend (well, most of them). I started documenting my plant hobby on Tumblr because it was easy to use its tagging system to find my photos on a particular topic: I still frequently refer to them when I get asked questions like “how do you propagate pothos?” or “what did your monstera look like when you first got it?” I just wanted a reference to my personal experiences with house plants. I moved to Instagram to share my more artistic photos, “plant art”, and time-lapse videos. More recently, I started a blog where I hope to instill the very basics of house plant care. I’ve also started a Youtube channel but I’m having difficulty finding time to shoot and edit videos these days.

Darryl's Houseplants

Do you have any tips for aspiring plant parents that you can share?
This mostly applies to indoor tropical foliage plants:
– If you want to keep a plant alive for a few weeks: you must give it adequate light and water.
– If you want to keep a plant alive for a few months: you must aerate the soil.
– If you want to keep a plant alive for a few years: you must repot and refresh the soil.

Plant Portrait

What’s your coolest plant find?
During a trip in Hong Kong, I spent an afternoon wandering their Flower Market district – 2 blocks of plant shops! It was really cool to see all the different varieties of plants their suppliers provide. I found many cool plants but I’d say the coolest would have to be three intertwined blades of a type of snake plant I had never seen before (photo below). Unfortunately, plants are strictly controlled items and I would never have been able to bring any home to Canada.

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Your Instagram feed is so inspiring! What is your favorite post on your Instagram? 
Thanks! In fact, I should thank @thesill for twice featuring my photos! My favorite photo would have to be the ones of my plant shelf (photo below). The landing of my stairway receives so much bright indirect light from my skylight, it seemed a waste not to have some kind of shelving system just for plants. I know I’m very fortunate to have such ideal lighting for plants, which is why I share it often.

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How many plants do you own?
I would estimate 100 to 120 if you combine my home, office, and church plants.

When did your love for plants begin?
I’ve helped my mom in the garden since I was a child but it wasn’t until we moved into our current house, which features two large skylights – that’s when I went plant-crazy indoors. I love to see new growth and flowering – signs that a plant is happy living in my home.

Time for a drink

What plant would you recommend for a person with a super busy schedule?
Sansevieria – they look good without much attention (photos below); they tolerate completely dry soil; they don’t need too much sunlight.

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What is on your to-do list today?
Survey my jungle to see which plants need water or other attention. Honestly, it’s impossible for me to keep any kind of watering schedule but it’s a testament to the notion that you should be watering the plant whenever it needs and not by adhering to a schedule (great tip!). I need to queue up my next few Instagram posts. Sometimes I’ll even type out the captions beforehand – I put a lot of thought into some of them!

What is your favorite plant at the moment? 
Snake plants – I’ve been collecting different varieties as I find them.

Thank you so much Darryl!  P.S. Check out Darryl’s Instagram feed here

 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Caitlin Ezell Waugh, Artist

January 26, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Louisiana-based artist and plant lover – Caitlin Ezell Waugh! We came across Caitlin’s timeless stained glass pieces and wanted to know more about her inspiration for incorporating plants into her work. And the more we learned about Caitlin, the more we realized that she’d be the perfect coffee date, if only she lived in NYC. Check out our Q&A with Caitlin below. 

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NAME: Caitlin Ezell Waugh

LOCATION: New Orleans, Louisiana

OCCUPATION: Self Employed Artist, Paraph Studio

FAVORITE PLANT:  This question got me ranting to my boyfriend. “Nightmare question!” I began… and now that I think about it, I’m thankful for the question because now I’m thinking about how and why I love so many plants. I love all herbs, for their smell and taste and medicine and memory triggers.

When I plant basil, I yell and shout, like the Italian lore tells us to, as a way of ensuring a strong taste. I love the French lilac that blooms in spring outside of my childhood kitchen. I love snacking on leaves of the ever spreading chocolate mint whenever I pass it. I really enjoy chewing Calamus root for focus and calm. I ALWAYS stop and smell jasmine, gardenia and white ginger when I walk by them. I’m really proud of how well my little bay laurel and meyer lemon trees are growing. My whole back yard is full of banana trees that shade me and feed me. I’m grateful for an ecosystem of plants that usher me through the seasons.

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Can you share a little bit about yourself – and your art? I was raised in the woods in Maine, which is where I learned to love plants and discovered the pleasures of working with my hands. I focused on literary journalism and conceptual art at Hampshire College, and got clear that my art gets to tell stories and help me synthesize continued research into new subjects.

I’ve run my design and restoration business, ‘Paraph,’ from my home studio in New Orleans for the last decade. I apprenticed under a master glazier before moving to New Orleans, and I’m dedicated to the rejuvenation of the stained glass trade by using traditional techniques inventively. My workload is a balance of commission projects, retail collections, stained glass restoration, and conceptual gallery work. In each of these endeavors I’m fueled by a connection to people. As a maker and a preserver, I’m fascinated by humans’ attachments to objects, by the nostalgia and energies we infuse into objects. I strive to create and maintain a sense of the sacred with my work, and I increasingly see myself as healer as well as artist.

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What’s a secret skill you have? I really love to write. I enjoy writing and reading guided meditations and conducting small intimate ceremonies as a way to connect with plants, animals, the earth, and self. I do that in private settings, so it’s still pretty ‘secret’. It’s been a great way for me to dig deeper into using my observation skills, trusting my intuition and practice different ways of communicating.  I’m also pretty good at working through difficult conversations and situations.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? When I graduated from high school my sister Kaiya told me to choose where in the world I wanted to go. We backpacked through Greece that summer and she taught me how to travel without a strict plan, which changed my life.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? The cats, Stagger Lee and Elwood. If I had time, I’d grab the wooden box of my journals and sketchbooks and I’d look longingly at my shop tools, my altars (so many beautiful crystals and precious little objects), my great kitchen knife collection, and all of the inspiring art I’ve collected.

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What’s on your to-do list today? I’ll work in my studio with the phone off until about noon, and then write follow up emails to clients and make a few phone calls while I do the dishes and fold laundry. Then I’ll write a couple of letters and package up several orders and go to the post office by 3pm. I’ll listen to NPR and work in my studio for another hour or two and go to my favorite yoga class at 6pm a few blocks from my house. Then I get to make dinner and figure out what to do with all of the ripe bananas I harvested from my banana trees!

What is your favorite plant and why? See above… but right now my favorite houseplant is a phlebodium aureum mandaianum. It’s a gorgeous huge fern that cascades over my bed. I’m also amazed by my night blooming cereus. It only blooms for one night, once a year, and it’s a gorgeous bloom.

Do you have a green thumb? Yes. So do my both of my parents and my sister, it was a huge part of my childhood growing up in an old farmhouse in Maine.

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Any plant care tips you can share? My relationship with plants, and food, is an extension of my art and ritual practices. Taking care of plants is about paying attention to them. Plants give lots of hints about how they’re feeling and what they like, so it’s important to watch them and listen. Ritual helps with that. For example I water my plants on Sundays (cactus every other Sunday), and it helps me feel grounded and ready for the week. I feed my orchids on the full moon, and I feed all of the outdoor plants around Easter and Thanksgiving (I live in the deep south). Most of us find health and a sense of well being in rhythm, so figuring out how to ground your weekly, and seasonal schedule to your interactions with plants is a wonderful way for your plants’ health to support your mental health. Along those lines, I was taught that sweet peas should be planted at Halloween here in the South.

When I realize that I no longer notice the artwork on my walls, I move it around. Plants are similar. If you find you don’t notice the plants when you walk by them, move them. Arrange them in ways that make you feel excited about the space. I also arrange my plants with objects I love, found pieces of ceramic or shells I’ve collected, sculptural objects, funny little figurines. I arrange vases of cut flowers near potted plants too, so I’m constantly paying attention to what’s changing.

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Keep plants that feed you. Harvesting from your plants (herbs and citrus trees come to mind) is a great way to really fall in love with them. When my herbs go dormant outside, I buy little hydroponic potted herbs for the winter kitchen. I love cooking with fresh herbs, and if you don’t cut them all the way back, they can often be potted in soil and become outdoor plants in the spring.

Healthy plants don’t always look like they’re thriving. I have a bunch of plants that look like sticks for a month or two, and then they come out of dormancy looking great. Don’t assume that your plant is dying just because it’s loosing leaves or slowing its growth! I find my plants need less water when they’re dormant, but they should still be in the watering rotation. I cluster my dormant potted plants together in one part of the yard in the fall so I can keep an eye on them. Any plants that I feel worried about I put on the back steps because that’s my favorite place to sit and watch the sun set, and I see them every day.

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I keep my orchids in the bathroom during the winter – so they can have the hot house effect. Don’t be afraid to trim, especially during the growing months, it produces more growth!  Also, get to know what the soil feels like in your plants when they are happy. That helps trouble shoot later when they’re not so happy. Soapy water is a quick way to get rid of mealy bugs. Also, sharpen your clippers for clean cuts, wash and dry your clippers if you’ve been working with a plant you suspect is diseased.

What tops your houseplant wish list? I saw a gorgeous old Cyprus bonsai the other day that I’d love to live with.

What or who inspires you? Ah. I really could go on and on with this list. I grew up around clever creative makers, they inspired me first. I have an incredible community of artist friends here in New Orleans (and spread across the world!) that inspire me daily with their own work, through conversation, and in collaborative projects which I find creatively invigorating. I’m inspired by walks in the swamp, by sunlight through tree canopy and by the rust and decay and growth of the cityscape.

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If choosing one, Liza Lou is the artist who most inspires me. Her work is obscenely patient, and her focus tunneled her from a place of working alone and unseen to a vibrant career working with others to create meaningful work.

How would you describe your work? My work is patient as well as spontaneous. I like to make decisions throughout the process, so I usually resist patterns and lots of planning. That said, I work with metal, glass, and clay primarily and much of my work requires puzzling out the best order of operations so the materials can function. Most of my work has a very ‘organic’ feel, very hand produced. For the last couple of years I’ve been focusing on a kiln process of fusing plants between glass. The delicate structure of the plants remains as ash fused in place. I call this process ‘enverre’.

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How do plants play a role in your creative process? I use my enverre process to preserve plants for two main reasons. One is to preserve specific blooms that clients have a relationship with, like flowers from wedding bouquets or funerals, plants from home gardens or travels or other special life events. I make those panes of glass into custom windows or furniture or sculptures. The moment in time that the plant was blooming drives the purpose, and I love listening to the stories, the nostalgia and emotion people have attached those particular plants.

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The other body of plant based work I make is driven by the symbolism, the medicine, the messages from physical forms of the plants. I harvest plants and research the medicinal uses, history, lore and symbolic meanings given by different cultures to the plants. I’ve learned the names of lots of new plants, and I record when and where they bloom. I fuse the plants in glass and my research informs how I make them into art objects.

Do you have a favorite project (or upcoming project) that you’d like to share? I have a new gallery space to play with at 5700 Magazine Street in New Orleans. I’m using the space to curate art events that encourage civic participation. I believe handmade objects help us ground and stay present and therefore support sustained engagement. These events are designed to connect people with specific ways to get involved and to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Additionally I’ve been curating collections of my work by plant symbolism to help support organizations. For example, one collection of objects I’ve made all contain plants that symbolize protection, understanding, sanctuary, innocence, and family. A percentage of the sales of that collection are donated to CASA, an organization that helps advocate for foster children. I also made a line of plants to help support the water protectors at Standing Rock. I’m excited about channeling messages and medicine from plants into healing in this way and am conscious of the line between support and opportunism. It feels very right to align my art and my politics.

P.S. To find out more about Caitlin and her work, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and visit her Website. (And check out her beautiful collection for CASA here. )