How did you first stumble upon paper flowers?
I was on holiday about 4 years ago and was just researching for some watercolour paintings that I was doing. I was just searching the Internet like you do and literally stumbled across some pictures of paper flowers. I was intrigued and it definitely sparked my creative interest. I studied Fashion for my degree and realized that the skills I had learnt many years ago were completely transferable to this wonderful craft. Cutting, shaping and constructing a 3 dimensional form from a piece of fabric was something that I really enjoy doing, to swapping fabric for paper was a natural transition for me. Each time you create a flower you learn the process is magical and your skills and creativity is always evolving. As with all paper florists and crafters once you start you are on a beautiful creative journey that is embraced by a wonderful community of paper florists all over the world.
What are your top three must have tools?
My first one is of course a good sharp pair of scissors. My second must have is a wooden barbeque skewer that I use for shaping and curling petals and also as a glue applicator, they are cheap and you can buy them in big packs. My third must have is wire cutters, you can manage without, but bending and trying to cut wire with scissors is no fun at all especially not for your scissors!
What are the steps you took to open your first art exhibit?
It was by chance that someone saw my work on Instagram and contacted me directly. I was a bit skeptical at first as it is quite an unusual offer, but I thought I had nothing to loose to see what it was all about. It was a unique opportunity to show my work in a private gallery and hold a workshop in a corporate environment and show a new audience the wonderful craft of paper flowers. The brief was to create a summer floral display for the employees and clients to enjoy. It was all at my own cost, which is usually the case when you are exhibiting your work, but it was chance to show my work to a new audience. It was a lot of work and although I had quite a few pieces that I had made previously it was a chance to design and create some new pieces.
What are your absolute favorite colors to work with?
I love most colours and really like mixing them to create interesting effects and combinations. One of the features of my work is colour and how I may use different colours within one flower or in an arrangement. Saying that, I do love the serenity of white flowers, but I really couldn’t do without colour!
If you could walk us in to your workspace right now what would the experience be like?
So Janita, as you know when I first read this question my reaction was oh my goodness as I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone!! My workspace has been extremely messy lately as I have been working on various projects as well as juggling normal family life. I am lucky that I work from home, my studio used to be the kid’s playroom, so we still refer to the studio as the playroom, which in some respects for me it is! I have boxes and trays of paper scraps, which I cannot throw away, bottles and bottles of glue and discarded cut petals, rolls and boxes of paper and lots of discarded samples. So you are getting a good idea of the mess I am talking about! I am not a naturally tidy person and so when I do have time when I am not working on a project, I will always choose to make a new flower, research and sketch, make something for the house, bake some cakes anything other than tidy a big mess! But, when I know today is the day and will sort out the mess tidy and organize and when it is all done promise myself that I won’t let it get into such a mess next time, but that part is still a work in progress!
Do you prefer to make flowers that have a more natural look or do you like to add a little twist on them?
I prefer to take elements from the flower and create something that is not necessarily botanically correct, more a reflection of my observation and interpretation of the flower. I may tweak, exaggerate or change colours depending on the style or type of flower that I am creating. We can all create a peony for example and they will all have unique details and subtle differences that reflect the maker’s touch and their perception of the subject that is the beauty of this craft.
What is it you like about where you live? Does it provide you with inspiration?
I am very lucky as I live in a village with beautiful hills and countryside 2 minutes walk from my front door. At the moment there are wonderful wild flowers, offering inspiration through shape and colour everywhere, that I enjoy when I am walking my dog Pippi there most days, I always have my phone out taking photos. Throughout the year the landscape changes and there is always something to look at and an opportunity the think or clear my mind. London is under an hour away and I do enjoy being in the city, but it is always nice to come home.
Do you have a client that has touched your heart that you will never forget about?
One of my good friends asked me to make one of my larger wall sculptures for a lady who was having her 90th birthday. The lady was so delighted with the flower that my friend gave her, she wrote her a beautiful letter saying how she looks at the flower everyday and it brings her such joy. I was so touched that something I had made could bring such a simple pleasure to someone.
If you could give a paper florist just starting out one piece of critical advice, what would you tell them?
I would say don’t stop creating because your first second or third attempt may not be what you are striving for but the learning along the way is vital, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the paper florist community as there are so many amazing people willing to help and advise.
What do you prefer to do when you are working on your flowers? Listen to music, podcasts or watch tv shows? Please tell what we need to be tuning in to!
I really enjoy listening to podcasts, one of my favourites have been ‘Under the Skin’ they are discussions with all different kinds of people from actors, philosophers, journalists they are so interesting and I always learn something and get a different perspective on so many things. I also listen to BBC radio 4, they have lots of different types of programs, ‘Women’s Hour”, historical and social programs and plays.
What is your favorite type of paper to use?
It has to be crepe paper as it’s such a versatile medium. I use both Italian crepe and recently managed to get some Lia Griffith crepe, they both have their own qualities that are great to work with depending on what you are using it for.
What are you most grateful for in your life right now?
It has to be my family. I am grateful as a wife and a mother to my son and twin daughters that I have responsibilities to them. I know that this has made me a better and happier person and enabled me to grow and challenge myself to be an artist.
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