Are these real Leaves?
Yes they are. What you are looking at is the skeleton or vascular structure of a leaf. The affect is very ethereal and delicate in appearance. In reality, the leaves are surprisingly flexible and stable. They will not dry out or become brittle with time.
How do you remove the skin from the leaf?
There is an old saying: "There is more than one way to skin a cat". This applies to leaves as well!
The Art of skeletonizing leaves has been practiced for hundreds of years. It was intially developed through a putrefication process and inspired by finding them naturally decayed. The famed, naturalist, british artist Andy Goldsworthy discovered the art and made wonderful woven tapestries with skeleton leaves.
Modern technology has greatly improved upon the Art. A chemical process will dissolve the flesh of the leaf exposing the vascular structure unharmed. What's left is cellulose, a tough natural plant fiber. They will not dry out or break down over time.
There are some skeleton leaves coming from India as well. Typically there are only two species.They go by many different names. Bot, bodi, pepul, magnolia,rubber etc. They are usually used in the florist industry and you will sometimes see them used in greeting cards and on cheap imported boxes etc.You will also see them arranged into pseudo flowers. These are made with slave labor in china and then imported.
Is that the original color?
The leaves are re-tinted based on colors that occur naturally. Mother Nature is used as a guide but artistic liscence is also applied. All species are available tinted to a light brown or "natural" color or tinted black on a white background. The paint used is a grade 1 colorfast (permanent) water base acylic. It is applied with an airbrush that enables great control. They will not fade even in direct sunlight. I have had color samples in the dash of my van for over 14 years and shown no signs of fading against the control sample that has been kept in a drawer.
How long will they last?
They will last indefinately. Cellulose is wood fiber and easily preserved. I am familiar with leaves that have been skeletonized(by less superior methods)that are over 100 years of age. This technique stablizes and preserves them.
Do you sell just the leaves?
Not Yet. Possibly in the future.
Do you sell just the frames or shadow box?
No sorry. Any good frame shop will custom make shadow boxes for you. *Warning* Taint cheap!
Is this a new art?
No. The concept is not orginal. There are many ways to skeletonize leaves. The Art was practiced in the ming dynasty hundreds of years ago. That said, modern technology has improved the Art.
The art was very popular during the victorian period. Edward Parrish (and his wife) as well as Irene Johnson were probably the most prolific Skeleton leaf artists during this period. It was common to skeletonize leaves and use them in memorials created for dignitaries who had passed. Skeleton leaves were bleached white and arranged in bouquets, glass domes and shadow boxes. Often they would surround photos of the departed and titled them: "Beauty in Death", "A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever" and "Phantom Leaves". See stereoviews for examples of their work.
There is an old antique book called "The Art of skeleton leaves" it was published in 1864. It is a rare book but can be sometimes found in rare book stores. Be prepared to pay $200- $500 depending upon condition. I have two copies and will scan some excerpts from it (see history of the Art). It is quite entertaining and very prophetic.
Do they require special care?
Not really. Treat them as you would any fine artwork and they will provide a lifetime of enjoyment. Sunlight will not fade the leaves as the colors used are a grade1 colorfast (permanent). UV filtering glass is used which will filter out the majority of the harmful UV wavelength.The shadow boxes are NOT hermetically sealed, nor do they have to be. They can be used in a bathroom so long as you are not splashing water on them. I have hundreds of customers that use them in the bathroom with no ill affects. Typical ambient humidity is not a problem.
They can be cleaned if need be. The back of the frame will open up to allow either the background or glass to be cleaned.
Are bugs a problem?
The only thing left of the leaf is cellulose (or wood pulp). Most of the desireable organic material is gone. Most insects will not eat the cellulose. The exception would be termites. If you have Termites eating your leaves, you have a far greater problem than losing your artwork!
Where is your studio?
It is not an open Studio. It a working studio and only open by special appointment. Special appointments would be to pick up a piece or large set or to make special selections for large orders etc. Please call if you feel you need to set up an appointment. THANK YOU!
Do you have a Gallery
I am part owner of the Gilbert District Gallery in Seaside OR. It is located at 613 Broadway street downtown. It is right next to the Tora Japanese restaurant. We have many wonderful artists in our gallery and I invite you to plan a visit!
I have been producing and selling this wonderful art for over 15 years. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter page for show updates. You will get the best selection of pieces at the shows and best of all get to meet the actual artist! : )
I also sell through galleries all over the country.