During last summer I worked with dying flowers donated by willing flower shops and came across a flower which had been a one off order at the ‘RoseBud’ (Dundee) which was a South African Protea (Susura) flower. At first I though it was ugly but the center was white and fluffy, contrasting the dark dead outer petals so I took it back to the studio. I first pulled it all apart as it was beginning to mold, and then discovered all the inner ‘real’ flower stems that were hiding behind the thick petals (bracts). I didn’t work with the pieces of this flower until the start of the next semester when they were all i had on me in the studio that day, including a needle and thread. I threaded pieces of the flower that i thought were most interesting together, which created a rounded flower design at first, but grew into a thick hanging mass of fluffy plant material that resembles a feather boa.

 These were my first batch of Protea flowers that I ordered from the flower shop.

I work with the plant material after it dries out because it’s easier and more effective to create with. Below are the original art-forms I created through threading the anthers/perianths together. The brown cores were at the base of the Protea flower, holding the seed and the white ends of these forms were originally protruding out the top of the Proteas. The most common Protea flowers are pink.

                                                                                The ‘feather boas’.

I loved this batch due to the range of colours found on the outer petals and the distinctive black dot on the white anthers. Hope to get another order like this soon.

Picking apart the flower… Individually pick out leaves from base and then grab inner ‘flowers’ and rip them off. The core pieces tend to dry out and stay reasonably firm but the outer petals become weaker, curl and become dark quickly. Inside the pieces of thin flowers that create the core of the Protea (that white fluffy part), the pollen and seed are kept. The seed is my favorite piece of the flower as they are small, fluffy and often orange and brown. Over time I’ve grown to enjoy these flowers (I’ve ordered 3 variations recently & that’s only out of the hundreds there are of Protea.)

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