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Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Stem: 6 in. (15.2 cm)
Flower: 3 in. (7.6 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 California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica).The slender green stem branches into a pair of leaves and two blossoms. The blossoms each have five yellow to gold ombre petals surrounding a yellow-green stamen cluster.
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.
CALIFORNIA: The California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) was designated the official state flower of California on March 2, 1903. It was chosen for its bright orange color, which fit the gold theme for California symbols. Nicknamed “The Golden State,” the state colors are blue and gold, and the official state mineral is gold; thus, the bright orange-gold color of the California Poppy made it a natural choice for the state flower. The California Poppy is a small plant with only one flower per stem, but the brilliance of its color has earned it the names La Amapola (flame flower) and Copa de Oro (cup of gold). It is also called Dormidera (the drowsy one) because of its tendency to open its petals later in the day than other types of wildflowers. The California Poppy is a drought-resistant flower, well adapted to California’s climates. It blooms along the country roads and highways, in the high desert areas, and over the rolling hills from Baja, Mexico to southern Washington state. The hardy seeds of the Poppies take root where other plants’ seeds may fail; therefore, Californians easily grow this flower in their gardens, where it attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The California Poppy is a highly recognizable symbol of the state, turning the landscape gold in the spring and summer with its delicate petals. Californians honor their state flower with the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve near Los Angeles, and celebrate California Poppy Day every year on April 6. While there is no specific law protecting the California Poppy, written landowner permission is required to remove plant material in the state of California. This law does not prevent private landowners picking the flowers on their own land.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
California  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Helen Hornberger.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens