Today is the first day of Spring 2014! I am ready!
I was having a hard time concentrating today so I took a walk to the post office, re-wrote my TO DO list and melted down some beeswax for wood butter and a couple of small candles (since I had extra wax).
I used some old spice jars and an empty honey jar (how appropriate) for the candles. I love how the color and transparency of the wax changes as it is heated and cooled. The wood butter will revive my poor sad DRY wooden utensils and the extra jars will be shipped off to friends and family. I used this recipe.
In other news, I'm currently reading two books that I would recommend to any one interested in plants or botanical art.
The first is The Paper Garden, An Artist [begins her life work] at 72 by Molly Peacock.
It's a flowery (no pun intended) biography of Mrs. Mary Delany (1700 - 1788) who was a spectacular paper cut artist. Maybe one of the first to render life-like images out of scraps and glue. Some of her pieces you would almost swear were paintings or even photographs.
Peacock is a poet so like I said, the writing is romantic and there are a lot of family lineage details - but if you're into that kind of thing, as well as botanical illustration of yore, this is the book for you.
The second book is Traveling with Wildflowers from Newfoundland to Alaska by Phyllis Joy Hammond. And I don't even know where to begin with this one.
I found this book while browsing at Rodney's in Central Square. (I've lived in/around Boston for 14 years and I had never been before!) I was early for my class at Gather Here so I was killing time in the plant and garden section of the used bookstore when I came across this little beauty. Traveling with Wildflowers is pretty much, hands down, without a doubt my DREAM BOOK.
In the late 1990s Hammond traveled back and forth across the top part of North America (Canada and the northern U.S.) with her husband making little landscapes and drawing the wildflowers they encountered on their travels. This is part guidebook, part travel journal, part plant ID guide.
The intro says she was mainly a landscape artist before this body of work and she turned to painting the flowers when they encountered some unexpectedly foggy days that obscured her views. Her landscapes are loose and alive and her botanical illustrations are precise and delicate. It's an incredible combination and the work of a very talented person!
The book is divided up in to sections focusing on different legs of their trips complete with maps and descriptions of the environments they visited. I love a travel journal, I love botanical illustration, I love maps, I love illustrated travel writing and I love honest, plain descriptions of plants and places. Again, my dream book.
And I have to admit, I've been so moved by this little gem that it inspired me to write the first fan mail I've sent in forever. I found the address for Mrs. Hammond's gallery up in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont and I tried to express how much I love her book in a letter. I hope she gets it and I hope that I can get up to Newport to see her space and what she's been working on lately.
Two very different books by two very different women who have/had a very similar eye for plants. Endlessly inspiring. I hope I can achieve one quarter of what either accomplished with her work.
On that note, I guess I should get back to it.
Happy Spring, Internet.