Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gathering Moss

The image of moss brings a sense of calm, age, and stillness.
Japanese gardens, and the Chinese before them, have long used this quality of quietude to excellent effect.

A carpet of moss on hard porous stone is more than an brilliant image, it is the essence of coexistence: Moss thrives on materials which are porous and water retentive, such as brick, wood, and certain coarse concrete mixtures.

Above, the Karesansui garden at TMfuku-ji in Kyoto, Japan.

A moss covered wall to soothe the spirit like a vertical meditation rug.

Moss requires shade and moisture as its soft membrane and poor vascular system aren't well suited for moving water throughout the plant by itself. Without damp conditions moss desiccates quickly, especially in the sun. It will appear brown and dead but will return to green efflorescence when watered again. (Some mosses can hold up to ten times their weight in moisture after watering.) Water is also a necessary element in the reproductive cycle as it moves spores away from the plant.

Japanese-born and Los Angeles-resident artist Mineo Muzuno created these large pebble forms dotted with holes for a moss covering that serves as a kind of organic glaze.

Moss covered bath mat by Switzerland-based designer
Nguyen La Chanh. As you might suspect, the often humid and sometimes drippy conditions of the bathroom are hospitable to moss. The substrate is made from porous polyethylene Plastazote foam, used most often in prosthetics for its low skin irritation qualities.

London Artist Anna Garforth is building a poem using moss lettering (to be installed in four parts). As the moss grows the stanza will grow out of the confines of the individual letterforms as a kind of work in progress.

Living moss jewelry from Icelandic designer Hafsteinn Juliusson. (Discovered at GreenMuze blog, here.)

Last year's Milan Furniture Fair featured this display by Japan-based flower artist Makoto Azuma in a collaboration with Unitika Ltd.: A living indoor carpet featuring a variety of mosses.

The moss is implanted into a receptacle made from a plant-based plastic called Terramac®. The plastic provides protection for the plant's roots and seeds as it holds the moss together. It decomposes, slowly (after ten years), into water and carbon dioxide, the latter which is captured by the plants roots through photosynthesis.

Below, Hanging Moss Garden from the Moistscape Installation, Henry Urbach Gallery, New York NY.

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