Moulding memories of life’s milestones

PRESERVING flowers is a way of holding on to memories for a Tunbridge Wells-based artist who creates decorative plaster moulds from milestone bouquets and arrangements.

A former art teacher, Bonnie Flashman Payne, became an artist five years ago so she could work alongside having a family, and creates the plaster tiles at her kitchen table.

After making a clay mould from the flowers, she pours plaster into the mould and sets wall hooks into the back of the ‘tile’, so it can be hung on the wall of any dry indoor room.

She initially focused on preserving wedding bouquets but she soon realised that many other arrangements held emotions that people didn’t want to let fade with the flowers and foliage.

“It was in my first year that I got a commission. I had someone come to me to ask: ‘Do you do funeral flowers?’” she told the Times.

“And since then I’ve developed a way of adding ashes into a flower mould.

“It’s not very obvious, but just so they know it’s there.”

Her latest piece of work is one of these sadder memorials.

“I am currently finishing working on a commission – preserving flowers that my client’s late husband bought her, just before he went into hospital with Covid.”

Having lived in Tunbridge Wells all her life, and with strong church connections and a child in school, Bonnie’s work is very much rooted in the community.

She does one or two commissions a month, trying to work as much as possible through word of mouth, but is expanding slowly, offering ceramic casts of hands and even paws, and has now joined forces with a jeweller who casts foliage in silver pendants and earrings.

“I’ve also linked up with a florist,” she added.

“Pieces start at £40 to £45, but it depends on what you are asking for – it does vary – but my most expensive commission has been £150.”

Botanical Press is on Instagram @botanicalpressart

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