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Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 21 1/2 in. (54.6 cm)
Stem: 15 in. (38.1 cm)
Flower: 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
Artificial flowers and trees
United States
Artist, Helen Hornberger, revived the techniques of French tole to create naturalistic representations of the state flowers. The artist used thin copper sheets as her base, and painted them with oil paint in the natural colors of the blossoms and leaves of the Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja linariaefolia). From a single stem nine green leaves emerge. Towards the top, these have up to thee lobes and are accompanied by red, petal-like bracts. From the top, these jagged bracts burst forth, giving the flower its characteristic dipped paintbrush resemblance.
Label Text:
The Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago proposed that each U.S. state and territory select a flower to represent their state in the “National Garland of Flowers.” This resulted in the National Floral Emblem Society. Each state has adopted to represent the state and its people based on their importance to the state’s history, economy, folklore, or native varieties. Tole artist Helen Hornberger created each artificial flower representing each state to create for a bouquet displaying America’s floral diversity.
WYOMING: The Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja linariaefolia) was designated the official state flower of Wyoming on January 31, 1917. Despite objections, the Indian Paintbrush proved the favorite in polls of Wyoming school children and was formally adopted by the state. This perennial flower is a member of the Figwort family, and it is partially parasitic. It connects itself to roots of other green plants and collects nutrients and water from its host. The Indian Paintbrush’s inconspicuous flowers are enveloped by vibrantly colored flower-like bracts growing at the top of the plant. The effect looks as if it had been dipped in bright red paint, hence the name “Paintbrush.” It is also called “Prairie Fire” because it grows on the rocky slopes and arid planes, among the pinyon pine, the juniper woodlands, and the sagebrush scrub of its native lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Wyoming  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Helen Hornberger.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
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Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens