NESBA demonstration at the Oakes Ames Mansion

The Oakes Mansion at Borderlands State Park is in North Easton, MA and was the home of Oakes and Blanche Oakes. Oakes Ames is known for his research in Orchids. His wife Blanche Ames was a botanical illustrator.


Arleen and Celeste had way too much fun.





For the past several summers NESBA members have been invited to demonstrate botanical illustration to visitors to the home.



Joan showed a visitor how to paint acorns, and he did quite well.
A visiting botanist and Arlene were busy
 looking up plants and drawings.



Maria worked diligently on a large drawing.
The Orchidaceae were little-known before Ames' study and classification. He made expeditions to Florida, the Caribbean, the Philipines, and Central and South America with his wife Blanche Ames creating scientifically accurate drawings of the plants they cataloged. The Ames' work was published in the seven-volume Orchidicae: Illustrations and Studies of the Family Orchidicae. They also developed the Ames Charts, illustrating the phylogenetic relationships of the major useful plants, which are still used. 

Ames built up an extensive orchid herbarium with library, photographs, and paintings, which he gave to Harvard in 1938. Today the Orchid Herbarium of Oakes Ames contains about 131,000 specimens, plus 3,000 flowers in glycerine, 4,000 pickled specimens, and hundreds of line drawings.

Blanche Ames illustrated Oakes Ames's botanical publications, including his seven volume treatise on orchids which is still considered one of the best researched to this day. Blanche Ames first used watercolors for the orchid illustrations, but later switched to copperplate etching. She also published detailed pen and ink drawings of the orchids. The illustrations were drawn from dried plant specimens observed through a camera lucida. Blanche Ames continued to illustrate orchids throughout their life together, eventually designing the decorations which now appear at both of their graves.




A juried exhibit will be on display at the mansion. Two NESBA members each have two pieces in the show.  Congratulations to Kay Kopper and Sue Neff.