Elske Kooistra's Filigree project

The Filigree project is a hand poked tattoo project based on an old herbarium of flowers picked in Frisia 40 years ago that the artist found in a thrift shop

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The Filigree project is based on a 40 year old herbarium that Elske Kooistra (a.k.a Meester Prikkebeen), found in a charity shop. The flowers are all picked in Frisia, a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea in what today is mostly a large part of the Netherlands, where Elske grew up.

The person who created this herbarium wrote down the names of the flowers in Frisian, which is also Elske's first language. Hence, the names might come across as unfamiliar. For this project she tries to stick to a similar format, by providing some basic details like the Frisian name and the date when the flowers where picked, to keep that visual feel of looking at a herbarium. The flowers range from weeds and grasses to all sorts of local wild flowers.

Q. Could you please tell us a bit more about the project?

A. When I was visiting my family a while ago, I decided to go treasure hunting in the local thrift shop. While doing so, I found an old herbarium containing wild flowers, grasses and weeds from the area that I grew up in. The flowers were picked in 1980-1981 and I am very happy that they haven’t fallen apart completely. As we frisians tend to be a bit stubborn, it didn’t surprise me that instead of a latin name, the plants were all named in Frisian language.

Fascinated by this I felt I had to do something with this but I had no idea what. After letting it sit for a while I realized what I wanted to do with them; I wanted to tattoo as many of these as possible! These flowers fascinate me and by doing this it almost feels like the seeds are sown again, giving them a second chance, but now on skin. I hopefully will reach a stage in life where I can say that i’ve tattooed something that bloomed almost a hundred years ago (give or take a few years). That thought blows my mind.

Q. What should your potential customers expect of this flowers?

A. They shouldn't expect ‘perfect’ flowers, they are old and brittle, but because of that, they contain an even bigger and unique delicacy. I want to capture this fragility and transfer it onto skin. They range from small wildflowers, to bigger grasses and weeds and will be suitable for arms, legs and the back (down the spinal area). I’m looking for interesting and complementing placement on the body, and will tattoo them in true size.

Q. When do your clients get to see the flowers?

Due to the delicacy of these flowers, they can only be viewed on appointment. This project is suitable for seriously interested people only.

Q. I really liked one of your tattoos. Any chance I can get the same?

A. No, each flower is tattooed only once. The point is to create something unique for each individual.

Q. Where can the interested people sign up for this project?

A. Submissions are currently closed. I will post on social media when I'm taking new submissions for this project. For general questions or custom work you can find my contact info here.

To see more of Elske's work, check her profile here.

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