Primary Tools & Materials:
Additional Tools & Materials: scissors, tweezers, Adobe Photoshop
This fragrant letter study is inspired by the intricate, meticulous work of Marian Bantjes. I have long admired Bantjes for the patience and vision her work requires, because I can also be a little obsessive about craft, and Bantjes takes it to the extreme. The material combination for this study was natural elements and computer hardware. I tried to keep it as pure to those two components as possible by simply using snipped baby's breath buds arranged face-down on my scanner bed. I even composed the letter backwards so I wouldn't have to cheat by flipping the image afterwards.
I started with a $4 spray of grocery store baby's breath, because it was cheap, and I knew the number of buds in a bunch would give me a lot of materials to work with. I also feel that baby's breath doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's a delicate, beautiful little flower, but it's often just used as filler for its snobby floral cousins. I think it's a lovely, humble little flower and I wanted to honor it through this type study. I snipped off a hundred or so blooms, some fully open and some still tightly closed. This inspired me to create a bold, high-contrast serif letter, which would allow me to use the different sized buds to express the thick and thin strokes of the letterform.
I placed each bud face down on the scanner bed individually, which took a lot of patience and a delicate touch. Sometimes placing a bud next to another bud caused the surrounding buds to move around, so I had to constantly step back and view the whole letter to be sure the stroke widths were even and the curves were smooth. Using the smaller buds on their sides for the thin strokes helps viewers interpret how this letter is made. To me, the forward-facing flowers could be mistaken for crumpled paper or cotton if not for the addition of the tiny buds in profile, with their stems and leaves visible. They also add just the right amount of green.
This letter gave me the chance to demonstrate a few tricks I've learned by working with this (10+ years old) scanner. First, I knew that only the parts of the flowers touching the scanner glass would be in focus, so I chose materials with a lot of texture and depth to achieve some purposeful blur around the edges of the flowers. For comparison, daisies - which could be flattened against the scanner glass, wouldn't have created such a dramatic blur. Second, I learned how to successfully scan three-dimensional objects with the scanner lid open without a lot of background noise. The trick is you have to do it in the dark. Pitch dark. Meaning I scanned this letter at 10 PM, with the lights off, the door closed and the shades drawn. I also turned the screen brightness on my laptop down to its lowest setting then placed it under my desk so the faint glow wouldn't affect the scanned image on the table above me. It felt pretty silly crouching under my desk waiting for the image to scan, but this is the best quality image of this kind I've achieved in this project up to this point.