Shortly after I started working at a garden center/nursery in 2011, I learned about Patrik Blanc’s vertical gardens. I was inspired by how plants can thrive in such diverse conditions. Without any prior knowlege or experience in plants or handyman skills, I started working on creating plant sculptures. Most of the work was created through accidents and with the help and advice of friends and other experts. All of my work to date, is experimental.
I am going to mention Home Depot when I go up the podium to accept my award. Their practices are not just, I realize. But my work could not have progressed as much if it wasn’t for them. At the beginning, I would walk the isles, not knowing what I wanted and would see something interesting and would purchase it. The piece below is made from dryer vent. It looked good so I bought it. I was playing with it and stumbled upon this design. The plants are african violets. Like most of the pieces, watering the plants is an issue that needs better design. In this case, the plants have to be removed, watered and put back.
The next day, I found this broken frame at the nursery. This is when I learned that found items can be a great source of inspiration. The construction of this piece was sloppy, but the experience was incredible.
I made this for Crystal, a great friend, who at the time was battling cancer. She won. Keith asked me what the name of the piece was and I said “Thingy”. The name has stuck. Crystal and Thingy are good friends now and the plants love her and their home. I experimented with making pots and pot holders here as well as using different materials like the bamboo shoots and the burlap as decorations. Without knowing it, I was actually practicing Ikebana, the Japanese art form of plant and flower arrangement. Except I have not followed any rules or guidelines.
The succulant thingy took a long time to make. I intended this for my brother’s new baby, but have not given it to them yet, because of technical problems. The pots are made out of some vinyl fabric I purchased from hope depot. The blinds on top of each pot have been sewed to give the feel of blinds for windows. I had a very hard time holding the plants in place. Finally I decided to sew them in place. Succulants are top heavy and would fall out. This piece has watering issues. I need to work on it to put some kind of saucers at the bottom to collect the water. But it is one of my favorites.
The first outdoor Thingy, this satelite dish garden was made for a non profit garden in DC, called City Blossoms. The good people at City Blossoms serve the underpriviledged kids of Mt. Pleasent area. The dishes are held upright which cause problems with soil erosion and water evaporation. I have covered the top of the soil with mesh and have attached little plastic dams underneath to hold the soild, but there are still problems with this, specially because the water doesn’t stay in the soil much. We are going to experiment with different things next season to see if we can tackle these issues. But it is still one of my favorites.