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Pressed flower décor and the magic of book pages

There are a few lucky people who can turn their hobbies into a business. Leena Bhagwat is one of them. Her venture, The Crimson Shop brings the old-world charm of pressed flower décor onto a variety of objects…including book pages. Bookedforlife settles in for a chat with the artist herself…

Leena, tell us a bit about your background and what prompted you to start The Crimson Shop?

It all started with a hobby of drying and pressing flowers which soon turned into a pretty homegrown brand. I started off small and popularized my creations within my social circle. People would want to save the memorable first date or wedding bouquets in pressed flower décor. There was no looking back then! 

There is a kind of magic and romanticism associated with flowers. I think it all starts with collecting the flowers. How do you choose the right ones? 

I have always had a knack for noticing nature around. Some might look at plants as weeds and nuisance, if they have no ornamental qualities. However, I think I notice the beauty in these as well as in pretty coloured flowers.

I go for walks or sometimes drive around and collect everything that catches my attention. I then press them and handcraft them in a way that highlights their uniqueness and charm. I collect flowers from personal gardens, florists and roadsides, trips and treks. The process of collecting flowers is a continuous process for me in whatever I do.

Pressed flower decor can evoke nostalgia. It is a way of preserving the transient beauty of flowers forever!
Could you tell us a bit about the process of pressing flowers? 

Once I have the flowers, I lay them out on newspapers and books. I then keep them in flower presses, or underneath some books. This is done to absorb moisture and flatten them. I may expose them to sunlight from time to time. This process is different with different flowers. They are treated with varied polishes to avoid deterioration by insect feeding and decay. The entire process may last from 15 to 45 days.

Once I have some pressed flowers ready, I design artworks and pressed flower décor. I explore various colours , backgrounds, combinations and techniques, handcrafting them with precision to give a unique and alluring arrangement. Since each leaf and bloom are unique in nature, no two pieces are the same.  It’s a time-consuming process but the results are gratifying.

It is strange because flowers are considered very transient. With your art, one can preserve them forever! Could you share the kind of responses you have got for your creations? 

Yes, flowers are considered very transient. But, I guess pressed flower décor makes them permanent to some extent! People who come to see my artworks are very delighted and fascinated with them. They are often awe-struck with how beautifully some of them preserve their colours and structure. Each piece resonates in a different way with the viewer. Some see it as a painting. Some find a connection as they themselves have indulged in flower pressing at some point in their lives, or have seen their parents or grandparents collecting flowers. That builds a nostalgic and an emotional connection with the art.

I really love the designs which have book pages as the background. What was the inspiration for the same? 

As humans we tend to form connections with living as well as inanimate objects. We do it all the time with melodies/songs/certain perfumes/smells, and literature. Books therefore hold a special place in our hearts. It could be the books someone special has given us. Or maybe, books we were reading at a certain nostalgic point in time. This inspires me to take bookpages and turn them into pressed flower décor, to be a preserved as precious memory.

At some point in our lives we have all pressed flowers or leaves between the pages of a book. That is the nostalgia that the beautiful pressed flower décor from The Crimson Shop has in store for us! 

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.