Bridget Beth Collins has become an Instagram sensation by transforming the botanical world into art, with her @flora.forager profile showcasing creations of animals and whimsical scenes. What started as an insatiable desire to wonder, coupled with a love of foraging and stopping to smell the roses, has led Bridget into a world where her art, journals and books are loved by so many. This Seattle based mama of three spoke to Children of the Tribe about her art, her boys and her exciting new botanical project.
Tell us the short story behind how Flora Forager began?
I was walking through my garden one day and noticed a goldfish in the flowers. I looked back and realized, no…it was, of course, an orange poppy! I brought it inside and put the petals onto a white piece of paper, painted the body, and took a picture. That was my first floral animal. A few years later I started instagramming mandalas, floral finds, and creations like animals and scenes. I called the account @flora.forager because at the time most of the flowers, leaves, and botanical elements were found on walks with my kids. I was “foraging” flowers. I had no idea how much people would like my instagram! In only a few months I had received dozens of requests for prints, a call from an editor and agent for books, magazines wanting to showcase my work, and requests for custom designs. My coder husband helped me create an online shop and I started working on my journals and book. That was just three years ago, and now I have what Flora Forager is known as today!
You’ve named your home ‘The Burrow” – what’s behind the name?
My house looks like a hobbit hole! It seems really small from the front, surrounded by frothy, flowery camellias. When you come inside it surprises with an odd sort of format that allows for lots of space; rounded ceilings, a spiraling staircase into the attic, a curved hallway. It feels as if someone had burrowed it out of the ground like a fox. We also really love Harry Potter and the Weasley’s home was called The Burrow. My husband gave it the name the day we bought it, and it’s stuck!
How do you gather your botanical art supplies, and do your boys ever get involved?
I generally have plenty to work with from my garden or my mother’s garden during the summer, but I love gathering little odds and ends I find on walks through the neighborhood. We live right next to a large forest park that has a bluebell wood in the spring. I can’t help but fill my purse with flora on walks. My sons love to help me, and are constantly pointing out new flowers and bringing home pinecones or leaves from school. I love seeing the natural world through their eyes. It’s like seeing everything for the first time again. The other day I taught them how to drink nectar out of honeysuckle and they lit up!
Describe a typical day creating your art...
Unless I have a deadline for a project I’m working on, my art finds me. A flower or plant will remind me of something and I’ll bring it inside to my white kitchen table to create and play around. My kids groan about how many bits of flowers cover the table all the time, but I let them play around with them after I’m done! Lately my mallow flowers have been reminding me of fairy wings, so I think that may be my next piece!
What is your favourite thing to do with your husband and three boys?
On warm summer days we go sailing together. We catch the wind and dip our toes in the sea, the boys scream and giggle at the big waves, and we love spotting jelly fish, porpoises, and jumping fish. After the sunset we can sometimes see glowing bioluminescence when we shake up the water. As the boys get older we’re excited to go on more backpacking trips with them. I love seeing the boys’ imaginations run wild in the mountains.
Any favourite flower?
It’s too hard to pick one! But I grew up in my mom’s garden filled with David Austin roses and am very partial to them. I have one called Evelyn in my garden and I’ve moved her with me from house to house, I love her so much.
Are you working on any exciting new botanical projects?
Yes! I have a children’s book called Flora Forager ABC. It has one of my floral animals for each letter. It will come out in March 2019, and you can already preorder it online!