By Erika Steele, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – An artist, a gardener and a teacher. While it sounds like the start to a joke, these are actually three trades that Pauline Bergassi of Shrewsbury discovered as appropriate avenues to fill her creative niche. Now retired from teaching high school – she taught English, creative writing, and journalism in Worcester and Hudson for 10 years – Bergassi has set out to prove that the ancient art of flower pressing is not dead.
As owner of Petal “n Fern Impressions, Bergassi preserves flowers by creating botanical art and creates keepsakes for just?about every event from bridal to memorial and everything in between.
“The natural beauty that surrounds me in my garden has always been a source of inspiration,” started Bergassi, who uses all homegrown flowers for her projects.?”Hesitant to leave it all behind at summer's end, I began to press plants to study during the long winter months.”
Through the years her talent has developed as she adapted new methods and tried different arrangements and subjects. Her willingness to venture outside of her comfort zone enables her to unleash each plant's or flower's unique artistic quality whether it be shape, size or color.
Said Bergassi of her favorite hues, “I love deep blue delphiniums and dark purple larkspur since the color is lasting and the flowers are beautiful. Ferns are the most interesting since they create their own design, swerving to one side or the other when pressed.”
Unable to kick the teaching bug, Bergassi continues to lead students in a different arena??”flower preservation classes. Her next class will be held Saturday, Nov. 15, at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden;
however, she does have some early advice for anyone who wants to capitalize on the opportunities that a New England fall presents.
“The fall is a great time to get started since leaves are beautiful as they change color and are very easy to press,” she advised. “Just remember that pressed items turn out best when not disturbed at all.”
Bergassi suggests that crafters looking for an easy project should collect fresh and dry leaves as they fall and put them face-down between sheets of acid-free paper, placed between the pages of a heavy book or layered in a purchased press. Weekly checks will suffice until the leaves appear to be dry, firm, and lift easily from the paper. As for flowers, Bergassi enjoys pressing roses like Queen Anne's lace, if available, or other wildflowers.
“I enjoy working with botanicals from my own garden and keeping the design simple and natural.?I consider it a success if I can recreate a flower's place in my garden on a background that complements its color and texture.”
Bergassi, who started pressing in 2005, currently has two pressed botanical artworks on exhibit in the lobby of the Shrewsbury Credit Union, 489 Boston Turnpike.?The exhibit is presented by the Artist Guild of Shrewsbury and open to members only.?She also has pressed botanical gift items such as journals, bookmarks, mini artworks and pressed floral soaps available at Craftworks, 243 W. Main St., in Northborough.