I recently took my press to the Shetlands. A brief family break, and the first instalment in our plan to explore the UK’s northernmost islands. But more importantly, an opportunity to expand my seaweed collection!
I’m blessed with a huge diversity of seaweed to choose from in Aberdeenshire. It’s the cool, clear water and the hard rocks that do it. I may have to travel south to find anything different, but even familiar finds have a whiff of exoticism when gathered on unfamiliar shores.
I foraged for seaweed at Sandsayre Pier, the surrounding rocks forming a funnel for drift seaweed to swill around and beach amongst the Spiral Wrack. Late summer finds are not at their best, tattered, sun-bleached and on the verge of compost, but if you’re lucky, you can catch them before they’re truly on the turn. And these scars can produce some pleasing effects in the press.
The torn fronds of Red Rags (Dilsea carnosa) that I found, a matt, leathery seaweed with a gorgeous ruby hue, are a good example. In prime condition, this seaweed needs light, not paper behind it, to show off the beautiful colour. The sun does the seaweed presser a favour in this instance, bleaching smudgy patterns and shades of pink onto the surface, which is only enhanced by the pressing process.
I may not have brought home any hero pieces, but the contents of my packed press will be a lasting memento of a happy hour spent exploring this tiny patch of beautiful coast. And my favourite kind of souvenir.