Lila Bobrowicz: “Going around the built areas and forests of Den Haag, I noticed the Duckweed growing in any water reservoir. Not knowing what this green sheet is and why it’s there, I was fascinated by the uniform surface it created, the bright color and its story. Previously I learned about the phenomena of invasive species which are introduced to an eco system which is not theirs and many times take over. Often they are over abundant and react to human activity. If they successfully live in a system, they often make use of the resources and impact the native plants and animals. When thinking about a medium to work with, I was curious to work with one that in the process of collecting it I don’t harm and perhaps even contribute to the functionality of the system. Without knowing their real story, the duckweed seemed abundant.”
After some research, I couldn’t confirm that the Duckweed is invasive. None the less, if I large quantities it limit life under it by preventing light and oxygen to penetrate through the water surface. In my first contact with it, I discovered the mysterious uniform matt is assembled from tiny plants with thin stems. Apparently, it is one of the smallest flowering plant in the world.
I wanted play around and research about the duckweed as well as to create a matt out of it that will keep intact. To do that, I collected Duckweed in different locations and investigated different mixtures to glue the duckweed together.
My first mixtures were based on homemade glue recipes, most based on these ingredients:
Flour, Water, Sugar, Vinegar.
The mixtures had a white color and took time to dry. To speed the process, I placed the duckweed with the different mixtures in the oven. Later I continued with the oven, mixing the Duckweed with Arabic Gun and wax. Each ingredient created different flexibility levels, color and thickness
The homemade glue mixtures had to spend more time in the oven to become less liquid, depending on the thickness of the mixture. While going through a baking process, the Duckweed inevitably got browner, drier and sometimes shrunk in size. In order to keep the Duckweed as fresh as possible, I placed a plate with a homemade glue mixture and Duckweed next to a sunny window. After about 2-3 weeks, the sheet had dried. Unlike the baked mixture, the liquid maintained its yellow-white color with the Duckweed embedded in it. Looking closely, the patterns, details and gestures of the Duckweed became visible and were gently preserved by the liquid. The sheet however was un flexible and very delicate.
The wax melted fast once in the oven and when put outside it hardened fast as well. That way, the Duckweed kept its fresh green color since it did not spend much time in the oven and was not really baked. In terms of its flexibility, the wax sheet was un-flexible and would break when folded.
In order to keep the Duckweed as fresh as possible, I placed a plate with a homemade glue mixture and Duckweed next to a sunny window. After about 2-3 weeks, the sheet had dried. Unlike the baked mixture, the liquid maintained its yellow-white color with the Duckweed embedded in it. Looking closely, the patterns, details and gestures of the Duckweed became visible and were gently preserved by the liquid. The sheet however was un flexible and very delicate.
Later I wanted to minimize the adding of other ingredients. I decided to use white glue since it sticks faster and becomes almost transparent when it dries. This time I used Duckweed I collected from the school’s courtyard which was bigger in size and seems to have more abundant stems. The stems got intertwined with one another and so when I spread them out to create a sheet I tried to maintain their natural fabric. I spread minimal amounts of the glue on both sides of the sheet and let it dry for a few days. The resulted sheet kept most of the characteristics of the Duckweed while still remaining a surface in tacked.
whole documentation by Lila Bobrowitcz: Duckweed