Creativity in bloom
Melanie Hsiao loves the natural surroundings, particularly in St. Albert, where she’s been residing since 2005.
“I like the landscape and the colour of the sky and the difference between the seasons. Each season has its own beauty. And the colours of the greens here are so amazing.”Melanie Hsiao
The visual artist finds the local landscape, especially the flowers, so inspirational, she’ll use those plants to press flowers into intricate pieces of art that includes jewellery, cards, wall pictures and conversation pieces meant for tables. But the creations by Hsiao, who works full-time at her craft, haven’t been restricted to brightening home surroundings.
The business she started in 2012, Bonbon’s Treasures — named after her sister who died of cancer when she was young — does well in terms of sales via art commerce website Etsy.com. Her works have made their way to such spots as the Art Gallery of St. Albert, Calgary’s Present Festival of Crafts, and Edmonton’s Kaleido Festival. In the city, she’s also made her colourful wares available at places like the Musée Heritage Museum and St. Albert Botanic Park for years and often hits trade shows and markets across the province.
An instructor in her native Taiwan introduced Hsiao to the craft of pressing flowers while she was studying commercial design.
“It was so relaxing and at that time, I had depression, and it was gone when I took that craft and it was nice. I decided to go further because I it was something I wanted to do in my lifetime. “Melanie Hsiao
Other practitioners throughout time might agree with those therapeutic amenities. The craft of pressing flowers dates back as far as 3,000 years, a discovery made by archaeologists in Egypt who found versions of the art form in a coffin containing the body of King Tutankhamun’s mother. But credit the Japanese in the 16th century for mastering the discipline they called Oshibana, which relied on paint made from natural vegetation to accentuate the detail of their works. Women in England during Queen Victoria’s reign took the art a step further by combining pressed flowers with ribbons and other decorations.
Hsiao was trained in the Victorian style of flower pressing, but has since added a unique twist to her works. “What I do is different from other people,” she said. “I do layering, so you can see that the art is three dimensional. It’s like a mini-landscape.”
Those mini-landscapes might be reflective of the panoramic views of the rural areas in this region. Wildflowers particularly interest her. It’s a far cry from her outdoor experiences in Vancouver, her first Canadian home since leaving Taiwan in 2000. “Compared to Vancouver where it’s all presented right there,” she said, “the beauty here is something you have to discover for yourself.”t8n
Bon Bon’s Treasure
Visual Arts Studio Association
(25 Sir Winston Churchill Avenue)