It is our responsibility to maintain high standards when it comes to the ecology and sustainability of our moss walls-- often referred to as plant paintings. This includes the conservation of real mosses, flowers, foliage, twigs and fungi so that each piece no longer requires water, sun or pruning in order to stay looking fresh. By fresh, we mean fully maintaining its natural color, size and texture. Rest assured, preserved plants are safe.
Conservation is done two ways: 1. Preservation and 2. Stabilization. Both processes are 100% natural, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. Before either process begins, all plant life is harvested in its most familiar and ideal environment to ensure each step that follows is done on a solid foundation. The plants are then picked during the height of their natural state, like when a flower is in full bloom displaying its deepest color. Like all other aspects of our work, preservation and stabilization are not one-size-fits-all practices. Each can take one to three weeks depending things like species, size, temperature and water quality.
PRESERVATION (Mosses, Lichen, Flowers):
Preservation is performed when a plant is dried by Immersion Preservation or Spraying Preservation. Preservation begins when the plant base is soaked in a mixture of vegetable glycerin, water, substrate (the surface on which something lives) and food coloring, replacing the natural moisture or sap with this mixture that is very close to sugar and 100% biodegradable. Once out of the solution, the plants are cleaned and dried for a period of time.
As you read on, you will notice that flowers are listed under both processes. Moss, however, is only reliable in a plant painting if using the preservation process. Because of the required drying times, moss significantly impacts the entire process and can increase production costs. This is serious business, y'all! Spraying Preservation is ideal for mosses because moss can come in a big round ball shapes and spraying gives it more flexibility.
STABILIZATION (Flowers & Foliage):
Stabilization takes place using living vegetation, not dried. This technique allows the plant to freeze in a state of freshness after harvest by rehydrating it. Plant stabilization is the most reliable technique over time, but is more expensive because it is riskier. The technique for foliages is called Capillarity Stabilization. The stem of the fresh foliage is soaked in a “substitute sap” (again, a lot like sugar) of vegetable glycerine (helps retain water), water, food coloring and nutrients. These elements give the plant the nutrients it needs during the few days it is out of the soil and stabilizing. It then dries for 24 hour. Capillarity Stabilization allows the foliage to obtain new colors, while preserving the color of the branches and stems, which are too thick for the non-toxic food coloring to enter.
When it comes to the lifespan of a moss wall, factors like exposure to sun, humidity and human-touch play MORE of a role than the preservation or stabilization process. Even though preservation essentially leaves the plants “frozen in time,” some can lighten, darken, perfume, bow or twist over several years. Which is only further proof that a 100% natural process is still going to leave room for a plant to do what it finds to be inherently natural.
Sound like Franken-moss?
Let’s be clear, we are not picking flowers that should remain in nature, installing them in billion-dollar tech companies and calling it sustainability. Preserved plants are slowing the production of fake plants (which sure as heck aren’t sustainable) and bringing greenery into urban spaces where live plants cannot grow, or the expense of them is too high for people trying to make rent in those cities!
We’ve had the pleasure of working with plant companies across the U.S. and Europe, and all of them have an ecologically-forward mission statement. They produce 0% waste (0%!!), 80% of their shipping is done by boat rather than airplane and we have all responsibly welcomed nature back into the lives of our fellow humans.