The Family Trees

I have always had this plan in mind where I would make a personalized landscape type art project of collected botanicals dried and pressed to represent my family in one large picture frame. I do make my own handcrafted paper from recycled papers in a blender poured on screens. I thought that some day I would press plant materials into the paper. The trouble with that was that over time the plants tend to fade. I would hate to have the whole family "fade out". Then about a year or so ago I met Joan Bruns who does leaf printing using certain chemicals and a heat process to perfectly capture a leaf with all of its unique veining and patterns onto water color paper with a touch of color. I was so taken with what I saw I contacted her and asked about her work. She ended up coming to my greenhouse which is always full of scented geraniums and assorted plants that I collect for their textures and fragrances. After some expert snipping she went home with a bucket of cuttings and printed them on watercolor paper. The results were stunning. I recognized in her prints the different scented geraniums by name, the delicate textured patterns of copper canyon marigold, lemon eucalyptus and materials such as Spanish moss to add interest in the backgrounds. She handcrafts journals, notecards, greeting cards and more. She was kind enough to indulge me in printing a photo mat project with my son and daughter in laws 25th anniversary bouquet to preserve for posterity a very special occasion in print.



This is a journal that I got from her made with redbud leaves printed in pinks and greens.


After a while I asked her if she would consider doing my "tree" prints for my Family Trees project and she agreed. She used a lot of my scented geranium leaves and leaves from her neighborhood trees. She gave each "tree" a personality, a base of ground scape, a background. I originally had in mind one long picture with all of the trees in one scene. After some discussion I decided it would be better if each family member had their own "tree". It was Joan's suggestion then that instead of framing them individually I put them into a window with multiple panes which kept them as individuals but united in one family frame. She's brilliant!


This one is my husband Ron. This was a scented geranium, Lemon Balm, leaf from my greenhouse.

Then I tried to decide from the prints she gave me to choose from which "tree" was which person in my family. I decided it was only fair to let everyone choose their own "tree". That didnt work out. Out of 10 or so choices everyone picked the same ones. This one was the top pick.

I know, it's beautiful. So I started over. Everyone was to pick their First pick and their Second pick. That went a lot better. It was narrowed down to almost the right number and Joan ended up printing me a few more to work it out. I know she was thinking, "Oh, for the Love of God, just pick something." But she was more gracious than that. Very patient. Very talented. This particular print ended up being my granddaughter, Caroline, whose favorite color is purple. This is also one of my scented geraniums, Pine.



Then it was a matter of finding the perfect window to mount the "family trees" on. It had to be 9 panes, good condition, reasonably priced, not too heavy. So one day at lunch with my friends, Pam Patty and Valerie Gleason I mentioned my project, told them what I was ISO. I was never sure what ISO stood for but it stands for "be careful what you wish for". Sometimes it's feast or famine, loaves and fishes. We parted ways. Thirty minutes later Valerie called. She had the window on hold in a flea market store in Luther, Okla. I thought, oh yeah, okay. I headed that way and there it was, The Window. The perfect window for my project.


I have been considering how to present the prints in this window. At Joan's suggestion I am going to mount them on a background off set for depth. I found card stock at Michaels that is a dark tan color which is harmonious with all of the tree prints. I'll update when this project is complete!


Joan Bruns, The Leaf Lady, creates beautiful and unique botanical prints. Check out her Facebook page.

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