Archives for posts with tag: plants

Fleurbain is under construction. Fleurbain is moving… moving in, setting up shop, shifting around, clarifying, distilling, and experimenting to compound our knowledge and expertise.

Fleurbain is no longer only a dream and a website… Fleurbain is a site.

We will have a grand ouverture and vernissage soon (probably in early November), but in the meantime we will have small open-houses, host workshops, and meet with our clientelle in the realms of herbalism and art. In coming weeks we will announce regular opening hours, but for now we are available by appointment.

Tammy Schmidt, Clinical Herbal Therapist, is available for appointments through tammy.schmidt.herbalist (at) gmail.com and Natasha Henderson Artist and felt-making crafty Workshop Instructor is available through nhen@videotron.ca. We can both be reached through fleurbain@gmail.com!

See you soon, Montreal!

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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A few months back I decided to never dye my hair again. Knowing that the toxic chemicals used in hair dye are linked to cancers, why on earth would I opt to have contact with this stuff? Also, with a bit of white hair coming in, I knew it would only be a matter of time until I would be trapped in the cycle of constantly colouring to keep the impending greys at bay. So I decided to just grin and bear it, look my age, and deal with what nature decided was best.

In all honesty, though, I missed being called “Red” sometimes. I missed seeing my strawberry blond or copper tones in the sun. In choosing to not go for a toxic soup while missing the colourfulness of past days, I was lucky to find an alternative.

it's happening!

In conversation with my Herbalist (Tammy Schmidt, CHT) I recalled that when I was a teen, I had used henna on my hair a few times. I would always go red or copper. I liked it, but eventually changed over to regular hair dye, as it was more convenient for me then. 

Turns out that using henna on the hair is not only safe to do, but some find the process and tradition to be spiritual and rejuvenating, as well as beautifying. Here I will describe a bit about the process that I went through the other evening when I made time to henna my hair. (Thanks to my Herbalist to provide me with information about the process, and for finding me some very good quality, organic henna!)

The experience: After reading instructions and suggestions, I mixed up a subtle and conservative colour mixture that would add a touch of colour to my hair. (In the future I think I will be more daring.) When I had my wonderfully pungent mixture ready, I globbed the henna onto my hair, eventually slapping on piles of the aromatic organic goo. It stuck to my head with the consistency of clay.

Because one ingredient was boiling water, the henna mixture was nice and warm.

post-henna lighter bits

Not only did my hair and scalp get a wonderful herbal treatment, but the warmth was very calming. Another benefit for my skin was the organic olive oil I rubbed into my hairline, forehead, hands, and all over my ears beforehand. This action was in order to prevent the henna from dyeing those parts of me, but a side-benefit was a good moisturizing.

I have never moisturized my ears, before!

post-henna darker bits

When I used old Ms Clairol, I would always have a drip or two of unruly colour left over on my neck or ears… this time that didn’t happen. The aroma was rich, and natural feeling and smelling. With toxic dyes, the smell is a chemical odour or a fake perfumed stench. While my hair was wrapped up and I waited for the magic to happen, I felt good. It is hard to explain, but using a natural plant-based dye made me feel connected to culture and nature, in a way that buying into stinky and mysterious chemicals does not do. I will never dye my hair again… but will continue to henna!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

soaking alfalfa seeds next to the spider plant that my cat likes to eat

As those of you who peeked at this website yesterday probably know, I am attempting to grow sprouts inside my living-space/studio for the first time. Just now I soaked, swirled, and now am re-soaking my seeds; the next thing to do is wait about 2-5 hours, then drain them. After that all I need to do is to rinse them twice a day, and watch them grow.

germinate! germinate!

I used a bit of old washcloth for my “mesh”, as that’s what I had available. I’d tried, firstly, to use a bit of an old shirt that never really fit right, but the fabric was too tightly woven. Bad purchase, that shirt! Anyhow, the old wash cloth (dish towel style) seems to work ok. I’ll let you know if it does really work in the end. I think there might be an issue with it retaining moisture, and apparently a problem with sprouting seeds is too much humidity. There is a chance they will mould, and then I can’t eat them. I might need to purchase a metal type of lightweight mesh. I really do not want to use any plastic in this production! That is one of the reasons I am trying this, I was tired of buying sprouts packaged in plastic.

Here’s to new life!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Deer enjoy a little munch in Comox, BC, Canada. Photo by Natasha Henderson

It’s April, and vibrant life is appearing all around us again. Spring has certainly sprung (at least across North America!)

Everywhere there is an urban setting, there is nature too. That little weed pushing its way through the sidewalk crack, the gull resting on top of a lamp-post, sunlight reflecting off buildings… animals, plant-life, and the Elements all co-exist with our Urban presence.

Our photo theme for April is The Contrasts of Urban Nature. If you are a fan on our Facebook page, you can upload a photo to our wall. Or, if you prefer, email us at fleurbain@gmail.com with your photo that reflects this theme, your name, and a short description of the pic.

April… finally, oh finally!



Punkwrr. Collage, photomorph, slogans. Copyright Greg Howes.

Greg Howes continues the story of his art, inspirations, innovations, and fearless creation. Please see yesterday’s post for the beginning of this story…

I moved to Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales in 1990, where fortunately I was able to continue my horticultural career. Shortly after that move I began to combine my love of plants and my passion to create something a bit different. I started to make pictures and designs from pressed flowers, leaves and grasses that I found growing locally. This medium allowed me to be creative whilst expressing my love of the plant world in all of its different shapes, forms, colours and textures. Moreover, I didn’t feel that I had to apply the more traditional methods to make interesting art.

Mantra. Photomorph, clematis. 2007. Copyright Greg Howes.

I spent many hours and days making pictures in this fashion. Looking back I used to spend hours and hours on a single card which was probably thrown away within a week of the recipient receiving it, but the main joy for me was in creating something new and out of something readily available, beautiful, and free. I still have one or two small pictures I made at that time, but how I wish I had photographed some of the designs that really worked well. One in particular I can remember had a background of pressed white poplar (Populus alba) topside up, this gave a mottled lake finish to it, a single passion-flower, (Passiflora caerulea) as a centre piece, surrounded by small blue flowers and a tiny amount of foliage from love in mist (Nigella damascena) plant.

Serenity. Photomorph. 2008. Copyright Greg Howes.

I bought my first computer in 1997. It had a very basic photo morphing facility which I never used because I did not have a digital camera at the time (nor, I suspect, did many others). Things changed about a year afterwards when I bought myself a scanner and started fiddling with old, already developed photographs of friends and family. Being an avid countryside walker, I then started picking bits of fungi and lichen up and scanning to see what they looked like morphed with my computer software. This did make for some interesting results; though I must confess I did not enjoy wiping off the squidgy mess from my scanner afterwards. It’s interesting that we can see beauty in sweeping landscapes and flower gardens, and even in singular blooms, but the beautiful intricacies of some of nature’s most useful foot soldiers go largely unnoticed.

JKL LM. Collage and photomorph. 2007. Copyright Greg Howes.

 

The real change for me artistically happened in around 2005 when I bought my first digital camera. Upon reflection, it seems much more like ten years ago rather that five as I have spent so much time with it ever since. I soon found that the ease to get a reasonable-quality picture, with a minimum amount of fiddling about, was very seductive. I then managed to get myself a copy of Microsoft “PhotoDraw V2” which was a rudimentary photographic design software which was produced some years earlier. However dated it was, it opened up new horizons for me and allowed me to create at will. This change fortunately coincided with my joining of the “Social Networking” site called Myspace. I found that this site gave me an ideal platform on which to display my work whilst also getting the opinion of friends and other artists alike.

 

Originally most of my photographic art work came from the natural world, which I would then morph and play around with colour and form. Trees were high on my list of subjects, but so were other more unlikely images like dew riddled sheep’s wool stuck on barbed wire fences and etc and etc. It soon began to be apparent that beauty and intrigue are often ringed, fenced by our own limited perception of where it can be found. If we all learned to alter our focus a little and live “outside of the box” from time to time, a whole new world can open up to us.

Butterfly Girl. Collage, paint, photomorph. 2008. Copyright Greg Howes.

 Greg Howes will share the third installment of his fascinating story tomorrow.

 The first of a three-part story about an artist I’ve had the pleasure to get to know through the cyber-world. Greg Howes is a multi-talented artist, gardener, historian, writer, actor, and generally very creative person. This is a bit of his story…

"Ohhhhhh". 2006, Photomorph. Copyright Greg Howes.

When Natasha Henderson asked me to write about the motivation behind my art work, I was a little perplexed as what to say. I tend to just “ do” something because I want to, rather than think about why I am doing it. Perhaps that is a failing, perhaps not? Maybe it’s because I am never short of inspiration or enthusiasm.

At present a lot of my working life revolves around researching family history and genealogy for private clients, television programmes, et cetera (see http://www.welshfamilyhistory.co.uk/) . Although I specialise in Welsh family history, I also research for people who have English and Scottish ancestors. When I am not tracing back family trees I am also a semi professional designer/photographer/mixed media art man. I paint/print/glue my images onto canvas/card/textiles and sell them on-line or in local art and craft shops.

I left School in 1980 aged 16 years. It was a time of a huge economic slump, possibly not quite as huge or as global as it is today, but unemployment was far higher than now and Britain had the worst unemployment rates since the 1930s… so jobs were few and far between. I knew what I did not want to do but all of the things I did want to do were all sadly unrealistic (or so I thought). Consequently most of my jobs in my mid to late teens and early twenties were very uninspiring (though I did find time to take an O level in art at Oxford).

Floral Mantra. 2006. Photomorph, copyright Greg Howes.

Occasionally there would be one or two jobs that paid reasonably well but this usually meant working from 7.00 in the morning until 6.00 at night and Saturday mornings. The only oasis in this wilderness of employment was a short period of self employment printing and designing punky/patterns/slogans for T shirts. Much as I enjoyed this it would not keep me in house or home. These were the days before the internet and as designer, printer and market trader the overheads were just too great for it to be sustainable.

Punk 33. Photomorph and collage, copyright 2007 or 2008 Greg Howes.

My big break came when I was accepted as an employee/trainee horticulturalist at the wonderful Waterperry Gardens and Horticultural Centre in Waterperry near Oxford. At Waterperry I managed to combine my inbuilt love of the natural world and its processes, as well as satisfying my passion for creating in the propagation of plants and research. I imbibed all I possibly could about different plant names, where they originated from, when were they in flower, how they were propagated and so forth. I know my time at Waterperry changed my life and my outlook on life completely, before then I had always seen myself as some sort of frustrated artist and poet (though I use these terms in the most loosest terms possible) without any realistic direction.

 That said, I could always use words to convey my feelings adequately in poetry, but sadly I had no real skill (and/or patience) with pencil or paintbrush. In my spare time I did dabble with drawing and painting but I was rarely happy with the results, though I always enjoyed the pastel work. The only thing I took out of this was a feeling that I could always invent something even if I could not copy at all.

Pastel. 2007. Pastels. Copyright Greg Howes.

Greg will continue his story here on Fleurbain tomorrow…

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