Local Artist Seeks to Bring the Forest to You: Eve Bucwinski’s Moss Walls Transport
Jim and I were at a Thai restaurant this spring when a new artistic piece, a moss wall, caught my eye. The piece had an energy to it that can only be created by working with living things, like plants, and as we admired it on the wall of the restaurant, I wanted to touch it and be part of it.
We didn’t touch it, or much else honestly. It is a pandemic, after all, and we are trying very hard to limit our contact with the outside world. But that piece stayed with me, and grew on me as you might say moss grows on a stone. I found my mind returning to it often, sometimes when I was meditating and seeking a peaceful break from my concrete landscape.
So when we had the opportunity to interview the artist, Jim and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The artist, Eve Bucwinski, had offered us an interview when we had reached out to local artists seeking stories of art in the pandemic. Eve offered to tell us about her work, a pivot of sorts to keep her business going since March.
Eve herself is a creative whirlwind of energy. The local artist and gardener, who is also the mother to five boys, opened her home and studio to us one recent Sunday. Working amid her dining room, Eve was creating wreaths for the Christmas holiday, and yet another moss wall, as children chatted with wild abandon of excitement and their cat Tygris sauntered through.
“I saw moss walls in hotels when we lived in the South. And then we would take hikes, looking for mushrooms, and I would see these beautiful clumps of green moss, so one day I decided to make one,” Bucwinski explained.
The gardener and businesswoman owns a Florida business that creates and maintains interior plantscapes, installing gardens and designing green spaces for corporate settings. Although Bucwinski returned to the capital region from Florida about three years ago, she had maintained a number of accounts there.
But the pandemic has dwindled that business. “We went from 26 properties to 4,” she explained. Unflappable, Bucwinski decided to put more energy toward freelance florist work, gardening, and moss walls.
She has made 5 walls so far and has shelves of moss collected for future walls. “I take the children out to walk the woods, and we collect the moss from the forest,” she smiled. The boys, ages 12 to 2, surrounded the moss wall with great pride. The family’s collected plant samples are cut from the earth, dried, colored (to prevent fading to a dull brown) and treated prior to being glued on a lined surface created by a local wood maker in Mechanicville.
“I’m a perfectionist, and it takes me some time, sometimes up to three months. I glue and plan, and leave no holes or gaps. Then we hang the moss wall, and gravity makes adjustments,” she explained.
The moss walls last up to ten years. They don’t require water, and you can touch them. They feel as unique as the mosses collected: some from swamps are thicker, moss from rocks are softer, and then there is the deep green of the moss from logs, soft as animal fur.
“I wanted to bring nature inside to enjoy in a modern way,” she furthered. “Moss is the oldest species of plant on earth. It grows slowly, but it isn’t sensitive. It’s resilient, so it is perfect to bring to others to share some exposure to the forest,” Eve knowingly smiled.
The moss wall is grounding to touch and is a wonder to experience first hand. Even though the moss has been dried and treated, it holds its original shape. Eve adds color to match, so it doesn’t brown over time. She also has purchased some southern mosses that she can’t find locally, although she tries very diligently to use local sources.
Eve’s oldest stepson, Jake, age 12, was most eager to explain their process, and also to display his paintings around the dining room. He hopes to begin to create moss walls of his own, but for now, is working on developing his artistic eye and sense of balance. Jake and his brothers Luke, age 10, Evan, age 8, Leo, age 4, and Franco, age 2, all work to supply the needed materials for the work.
The boys’ joyfulness at sharing their forest treasures clearly reveals that Eve has been successful in bringing the magic of nature to them. She didn’t grow up in the woods, or with opportunities to explore the woods. Eve was born in Poland, and immigrated to the United States for heart surgery in 1988.
She recalls going in front of the judge to request permission to remain in the United States after attending Bishop Gibbons School in Schenectady. She and her mother shared a small apartment near Vale Cemetery, and Eve grew up playing basketball, studying to get good grades, and working hard.
“The judge told my mother that we could stay after interviewing me. The judge noted that I was the kind of young person our country needs, and it filled me with such gratitude,” Eve recalled. Her eyes filled with emotion as she recalled the events that brought her to become a citizen eventually by age 23.
The 41-year-old is now married to her school sweetheart from Bishop Gibbons, Chuck, who also shares the family’s passion for being outside. He brought out trays of mushrooms the children had helped to collect and explained their anti-inflammatory qualities. Chuck, himself a folk music enthusiast, gushed over his wife’s amazing floral talents.
Although the couple met when they were at Bishop Gibbons, they wouldn’t marry until much later. First Eve would attend Northeastern University to study business management, and she would work for ten years as an investment broker.
“But I never lost my passion for gardening, so I quit in 2010 to pursue plants,” she recalled.
And what a pursuit. Between her Florida business that was taking her back south this week to maintain her corporate plantscapes, her work running 518 Backyard Gardeners, a gardening group offering consultations on gardens, her florist work creating seasonal pieces like the holiday wreaths across her porch and dining room, and now the moss walls, it is a wonder Eve has time for anything else.
Eve’s affection for her children, helping them to find joy in movement outside rather than getting lost in screens, is at her core. Her mother, still living in Schenectady in the same apartment, gardens with her to this day. “My mother loves working with plants too, and helps to maintain her own garden and those around her.”
“I wish people would just go outside more, and be present more,” she insisted. “So I will bring it to them, through my work.”
That judge in Buffalo was absolutely onto something. Eve is exactly the kind of person our country needs, especially right now. She is an artist who is grounded in the natural world, surrounding herself with plants and seeds and moss. And she shares it, rather than hides it to herself.
Interested in learning more about her moss walls, or any other pieces lovingly collected and created by Eve? Check out her Facebook page Garden of Eve. She also has an Instagram with a virtual studio of moss walls at @mosswallgardenofeve. The moss walls are for sale, as are here seasonal floral pieces and wreaths, for very reasonable rates. Reach out to Eve directly for more information.