resurrecting seaweed

April 5, 2013

pressed seaweed by Karen Schumacher

Over-employed by ephemera fanatics and beach-cottage-chic-o-philes, seaweeds prints have become somewhat cliche. The same has happened to coral, which I’m not sure will ever recover. But this coastal New Englander, who grew up playing “seal family” among the rock weed and lashing long lengths of kelp as I lept down the beach, is reluctant to relinquish seaweed all-together. So perhaps it’s time we reexamine the beauty of these aquatic specimens.

Shaped by the sea, the languid, fanning fronds of seaweed often have an exotic, alien appeal to us landlubbers. They are archetypal, fantastic – the gardens of mermaids. Their forms are intriguing, animalian, spreading tentacles like some Leviathan of the deep. When pressed seaweed specimens take on an almost calligraphic effect. As extemporaneous as a Chinese painting, they appear as landscapes unto themselves, both architectural and fluid.

Delicate and ephemeral, graceful, and full of personality, seaweeds need not be so hackneyed. Apply them sparingly and in a surprising way, and they’re as fresh as a little salt spray on your face.

vignette with seaweed print styled by Sue Teso of Solstice Home

antique print from Hindsvik; one of 19th century Irish botanist William Henry Harvey’s Capistrano series from Natural Curiosities

room featuring a William Henry Harvey kelp via Victoria Fitchett

seaweed print styled by Kim Ludy of Ethanollie

19th century English Henry Bradbury seaweed print from NG Art Prints. You can see more images of Bradbury’s original prints shot by Robin Camille here.

The Biology of the Seashore, fine art photo by Jennifer Booher of Quercus Design

Other notable seaweed samples and sources:
Seaweed Miniatures by Jane Dobson
seaweed paintings by Kate Pugsley

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