If you're an artist, everything's a medium, and Susanna Bauer is a perfect example of that. Constructed with leaves and finely woven cotton thread crochet, her works hold a fine balance of fragility and strength. They reflect individual stories and connections and pay tribute to the enduring beauty of nature.
“‘Cube Tree No.5”
"As you can imagine, working with fragile leaves requires a lot of patience and a steady hand, but the focus of my work for me lies on the effect it has on the viewer, on the ideas that flow into the compositions and the thoughts the pieces can evoke. To create a piece that not only is intriguing as to how it is made, but also touches the viewer on a deeper level," Susanna told Bored Panda.
"The work starts when I’m out collecting, choosing, sorting leaves and arranging compositions and ends with mounting and framing, the actual making process is only a part of the whole creating process. Also the time to make samples and to try out new ideas becomes part of the creation of a piece of work. I always have several pieces in various stages of completion at my studio and it entirely depends on the complexity and the size of the work how long a piece will take to complete."
Crochet is a traditional craft, which can be both functional and decorative, although in Susanna's work she seeks to transcend these attributes. The craft technique of crochet becomes a sculptural method, her means to the expression of ideas and emotions, and by that it bridges the gap between craft and fine art. "I create my leaf pieces with very fine hooks, needles and thin cotton threads and by working on a very detailed and small level I am pushing crochet to its very limits," she said.
"Combining this method with such a fragile material as leaves highlights the delicate nature of the subject matter that I’m interested in - the tenderness and tension in human connections, the transient yet enduring beauty of nature that can be found in the smallest detail, vulnerability and resilience that could be transferred to nature as a whole or the stories of individual beings. The technical part of my work and the use of natural leaves highlights this balance of fragility and strength. Working with tension is an integral part of crochet work, but it can also be seen metaphorically, as managing tension plays a big part in our lives and our surroundings."
"Each leaf comes with its own unique character and by dedicating time to a seemingly so impermanent, yet so perfectly shaped object, the work becomes a tribute to nature, but also a mirror of ourselves and the world around us, evoking thoughts about time, individuality and transience on many different levels and opening eyes to the ephemeral yet enduring beauty of nature."
Susanna's works are as fragile as an Autumn leaf you find on the ground. "I don’t coat or treat my leaves with anything to make them more rigid. To protect them all works are framed behind glass."
"Leaves decay through the exposure to the weather, insects, microorganisms and the sunlight's UV rays and every effort is made to protect my works from these influences. All my leaves are washed and thoroughly dried for several weeks after collection. Sometimes a leaf stays at the studio for years before I select it for a piece of work. Drying is the standard conservation technique used by botanists all over the world; Kew gardens in London for example holds dried and pressed specimen that are over 200 years old."
"All leaf works are mounted behind conservation grade glass, which filters out over 99% of UV rays, but as with most artworks, it is recommended to keep them away from prolonged direct sunlight or high humidity environments," the artist added.