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April 21 Artist of the Day

Name: Johanna Massingale

Location: Quitman, Mississippi

Art/Craft: Japanese Pressed Flower Art

Johanna Massingale, a Mississippi native, who has spent much of her life in Japan learning Oshibana, the art of pressed flower designs.

“‘Bana’ means flower in Japanese,” Massingale said. “It’s very popular in Japan, but not a lot of people do this in the U.S. because the materials are strictly controlled in Japan; they’re hard to get.”

Massingale traveled to Japan to hone her skills in Oshibana, spending time there afterward to teach English. It was while teaching that she met Harry Murakami, her business partner from Maine, who also presses flowers.

“We dry and press and gather all the plant materials ourselves,” Massingale said. “Then we arrange the flowers on the background material and we use a special foil and glue and vacuum seal it.”

Even though they ship in many materials from Japan, such as the rice paper in the background of the elaborate scenes, the flowers are natural, picked for their color and low oil level. While the works appear exotic, the flowers in Massingale’s work are actually native to the South.