Across cultures, flowers are bestowed with special significance. Their captivating colors, ephemeral beauty, and sensuous scents have guaranteed them a place in all facets of culture- from humble homes to ornate places of worship.
One such flower has become a symbol for a fall holiday celebrated across the world, Day of the Dead.
What could be a morbid and depressing day of mourning is actually a colorful and vibrant celebration of friends and family who have passed. Marigolds have been symbolically associated with the dead since Aztec times. Today, Dia de los Mertos, a blend of Aztec and Catholic feast days, has extended beyond the borders of central America along with the popularity of the flower.
We're honoring this celebrated flower with our own Dia de Los Muertos seed pack. Since this is the time of year for the festivities, we decided to show off the new pack!
Bits of colorful tissue paper confetti from cutting the papel picado flags.
In addition to the offrendas, where marigolds are used to create arches, garlands, and decorate alters, another Dia de los Mertos decoration is the papel picados. These delicate tissue paper flags are strung in rows overhead, adding even more color and movement to homes, streets and Day of the Dead parades.
For this pack I asked paper cut artist Jenny Lee Fowler, who also created paper silhouettes for Variegated Nasturtium and Ragged Jack Kale, to cut custom papel picado featuring the symbols of the festival- skulls and marigolds. Jenny says she used "abstracted forms cut into colorful tissue paper with a grid-like pattern that provides both structure and pockets for the wind to blow through."
"Ken invited me to design a pack for the first year, and I've kept my eyes out for the call every year since," says Jenny. "I'm an avid gardener and sometimes seed saver and was thrilled to be part of a project that brought that together with my love for tiny art. I love how the art for the Art Packs has grown in size and scope each year. I think gardening is a practice that nourishes the body and the soul. Like tending plants, many of the processes of art-making (particularly in paper cutting) are repetitive and meditative and rely on a presence of hand and mind."
Papel picado in progress.
Jenny Lee Fowler's original papel picado string of hand-cut flags will be on display at Art of the Heirloom on November 9th where you can also pick up this pack and more for holiday gifts.
Jenny working on one of her own intricate pieces.
Jenny Lee Fowler has been busy with scissors since childhood. After moving to the Hudson Valley in New York State she began cutting a snowflake for each snowfall. Over the years, her snowflakes grew increasingly intricate and animate, reflecting her deep love of folk, flora, and fauna. She has cut hundreds of silhouette portraits and stories told in paper detail. She lives with her husband and two children on a very small farm near the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.To see more of Jenny's masterful and innovative cut paper works, visit her shop here.