Landscape architecture tree stamps

Tree stamps were once a key technology for landscape architects

Tree stamps were once a key technology for landscape architects

On my first day in a landscape architecture office the kind lady at the drawing board behind mine asked ‘What have you done before?’. I told her, modestly, ‘degrees in philosophy and landscape architecture’. ‘Ah’, she said, wisely and with a soft Scots accent,’an apprenticeship in the post office would more use – the main thing we do here is tree stamping’. So, in memory of that happy day, I give you a scan of a very high-class set of tree stamps, which belonged to my former colleague Michael Lancaster. A very good designer and draughtsman, I can’t think what he used them for. The largest stamps were unused until I had a go with them recently. Just think how much use they could be for retrospective planning in Chinese cities!

13 thoughts on “Landscape architecture tree stamps

  1. Christine

    Tree stamps, one of my very favourite things! (Beautifully arranged Tom, an artwork in their own right.) They are also excellent for architectural plans to demonstrate a green soul! Do they come in species specific categories? Confession time, my use was very intuitive – rather than this stamp represents this species of this size which approximates a tree of a particular age…

    So Tom please elaborate on the philosophy of tree stamping!

    Reply
    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I feel more nostalgia than love for tree stamps. The great virtue was that they encouraged designers to show the surroundings of buildings but they encouraged ‘pattern making’ instead of serious design, as computer programmes also do. So my philosophy would be (1) sort out the technology of the landscape design first, probably with cross sections and cigarette card sized diagrams (2) use a soft fat pencil to develop the pattern of external spaces (3) use tree stamps, or their AutoCAD equivalent, to render the plan.

      Reply
  2. Lawrence

    I never worked in an office that used tree stamps – I found that they always made drawings look stylistically underdeveloped – but your set is very beautiful indeed. What I do get nostalgic about are Rotring pens, the old, black ones they used to make before the patent restrictions ran out and the market opened up to competitors. I couldn’t find a picture, but they were the iPhone of the pen world with their minimalist, elegant design, and it was always a pleasure to take them in the hand. I still have my set. I also, like many draughtsman from the old school, have several permanent, small tatooed points (I have 5) on my hands and my fingers, from accidentally stabbing myself while shaking the pens to get the ink running.

    Reply
    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I know what you mean about Rapidographs – and I used to be an expert in keeping them going – but I have more sad then happy memories of them. A friend chucked his full collection into the bin. Then took them out, Then jumped on them. Then put them back in the bin.

      Reply
  3. Christine

    Mmmm. All (as Tom has demonstrated) is down to the hand of the artist. Tom’s set has a particularly zen quality to it. However I am reminiscing about presentation drawings with tree stamps and coloured pencil and tree stamps and yokens – they could be quite beautiful – and atmospheric in their delft touch in a way a computer rendering is not.

    Another way of getting a good rendering of the environment was to photocopy photographs of the surrounding and render them in felt pen on tracing with the new foreground design. This could then be copied onto paper and coloured.

    All these techniques undoubtedly would have their electronic equivalents, although recent electronic renderings still lack something of the depth of early coloured pencil and yoken renderings which aimed for photo realism.

    The best approach is to design the expressive style to suit the medium. So computer artistry will have its own flavour (to borrow Jerry’s chocolate analogy).

    Reply
    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Aaaah, Yes. I still have some (working) Pantone. Before that, we used Magic Markers, with fat little bottles and amazing precision. And, before that, the amazing Flo-Master – an expensive cast aluminium pen with replacable nibs and tins of coloured ink for re-filling the pen. The Flickr comment says ‘mid-60s’. I had my first Flo-Master well before that!

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Tree stamps! | Treeblogging.com

  5. Serafina Montgomery

    Love this set of stamps! My father was an architect/landplanner who used these in his work. As a kid, I loved making pictures with them. If only I had them today, I can think of so many ways to use them again. Would you have any idea where I might be able to buy a set like this? I have tried to find some online but have had no luck. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for the fun memories.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>