Paper Blossoms: Decor For Any Room
Paper flowers are enjoying a rebirth, appearing in how-to books and popping up in stores such as West Elm. Artists are reinterpreting this vintage craft in fresh ways, crafting a wide variety of flowers, from ruffled camellias to sculptural cherry blossoms.
“There is a deep appreciation and celebration for artisanal, handmade and ‘old fashioned’ craft forms right now, and paper flowers feel both historic and modern at the same time,” says Rebecca Thuss, who co-authored “Paper to Petal: 75 Whimsical Paper Flowers to Craft by Hand” (Potter Craft, 2013) with her husband Patrick Farrell.
Thuss is a veteran of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and has been a collector of vintage papers, supplies and instruction materials “for over 20 years.”
Thuss recommends using hand-made blossoms as part of your décor. “Paper flowers bring joy and cheer to any room… A garland draped on a mirror, a wreath, a mobile, all of these can be made in custom colors and textures that can be so decorative.”
“Holidays and a celebration like a birthday or wedding are a natural fit for decorating with paper flowers,” Thuss says. “Paper flowers make such a special gift.”
Where does the inspiration for the design come from? Less from nature than you might think, Thuss says.
“The focus of our book is not about replicating flowers from nature, it is about getting inspired by something and letting nature just influence the flower craft.” Thuss says she has made flowers “inspired by kites, confections, coffee, birds, blue and white china and the fading colors of fall.”
One obvious advantage of the paper flower over live versions is the lack of maintenance. Livia Cetti, author of “The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers: A Guide to Making Unbelievably Realistic Paper Blooms” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2014) says, “You can use them in any way that you would use fresh flowers or fresh plants – except they don’t die, they don’t wilt and you don’t have to take care of them.” She does, however, recommend an occasional light dusting.
Cetti’s background is in fresh flowers, and she had dreamed of one day making a floral arrangement book, “the ultimate vanity project.” Deterred by the high cost of materials for a fresh flower book, she turned to another skill set. “Everything I would normally do with fresh flowers, I can do with paper,” she says.
This philosophy of interchanging fresh flowers with hand-crafted versions extends to her thoughts on decorating. “The paper flowers don’t replace fresh flowers, but just add to them in an interesting and unexpected way.”
Cetti is a fan of the “beautiful, subtle things” you can do with paper flowers. “I will take one really successful, beautiful flower – and put it on a stack of books – or create a beautiful lei of little blooms and hang it on a lamp or from a doorknob or from a nail on the wall.”
When deciding what type of flower to make, Cetti often takes her design cues from the paper itself. Her signature technique involves bleaching and dying paper to create a custom palette for her flowers. One of her favorite materials to work with is a European double-sided crepe paper called doublette. However, she tells beginners to “get a lot of tissue paper. It’s super cheap, and you can get it anywhere.”
From there, she encourages experimentation. “The paper will inspire the flowers,” she says. “It starts with prepping the paper, and that will inform what type of flowers you want to make.”