Paper Flower Power
Introducing Amity Beane of Florabeane — yet another one of the oh-so talented paper flower artists in our community! We were lucky to have the chance to speak with her and gain some inspirational insight. From her techniques to her philosophy, she is a true artist of the trade. Stay tuned for more artist interviews to come…
LG: Tell us about the first paper flowers you made.
AB: My first paper flowers ever were a bright pink peony, a ranunculus, a spider mum, and a lisianthus, all made in a few days. The next week I made my first batch cut set of peonies in peach and sold them as soon as they posted online. The week after was my first set of roses — bubblegum pink tea roses — and they were featured by Paper Mart on their Instagram. It felt good! I was hooked!
LG: How long have you been making paper flowers?
AB: Just about two years this January.
LG: Where did you learn to make paper flowers?
AB: Well, I was in a pretty desperate state of mind when I started making flowers… Second trimester of my first pregnancy, feeling super meh, isolated at the end of a dirt road with neighbors just beyond shouting distance, and no wi-fi! Since we had no wi-fi at the time, YouTube wasn’t an option… and my data plan was already taxed. I found and saved, and laboriously studied Lia Griffith PDFs again and again that first week, all on my phone.
LG: What do you love most about making paper flowers?
AB: I love how it feels to be lost in the moment of making flowers — which includes the colors, the shapes, and the overall voice of the piece I am making. When I have enough materials made to create an arrangement or bouquet, that’s a natural high for me… To be in that creative mode of making the flowers and greens sing in harmony. And of course when someone tells me how much my flowers bring them joy. That’s like love butter slathered on toast made of charm and good humor. I could eat that all day!
LG: What’s your greatest challenge when making paper flowers?
AB: That wall of fear. You know, when you think you can’t do a thing. At first, I would look at flowers that were unfamiliar to me (like dahlias) and feel overwhelmed by their complexity. I refused to even try, they just looked too hard. I think there is this idea that some crafters make beautiful things every time. That is simply not true. I snip my ugly flower heads off and put them in pickle jars in my studio, where at least they look pretty all in a pile! Fear be gone. Failure is part of learning.
LG: Where does your design inspiration come from? How do you develop a flower design?
AB: Definitely in nature. I am one of those annoyingly fussy artists who prefers things all in botanical order and looking as close to reality as possible. Our brains are not photographic. We know how things ought to look but not precisely. I try to put all the ought-to-look parts in my flowers and obsessively research all those little bits, usually in cooperative extension or research publications. I also grow flowers on my farm here in Maine specifically to look deeply into their souls and unpack their mystique.
LG: What kind of paper do you love to use?
AB: My favorite is Lia Griffith’s single-ply floristic crepe in Green Tea. It makes the best green hellebores and is the perfect spring shade. I use all weights of crepe paper, however. Anything that can convey the ephemeral quality of flowers has my vote! So the 32-gram single ply is also a favorite. It photographs so well.
LG: What are your go-to tools when it comes to paper flower making?
AB: I use these super-sharp Chikamasa slanted grape-pruning scissors from the local grow store. They are so sharp and amazing. I also use school glue in purple which helps me see where the glue is. My favorite hack is using a cookie sheet (I have about a dozen for my studio). I like to set up projects on a cookie sheet and move to where it’s cozy during my winter studio time. It also makes it easy to stack and store them when the baby is awake and running amok.
LG: Do you have a paper flower-making top tip you’d like to share?
AB: Dye your own paper! It gives the paper a new hand — it allows for a lot of creative expression. It takes time to let the dye dry and makes the practice intentional. There’s nothing better than waking up and remembering I dyed a big lot of paper and can look forward to making pretty flowers all day.
LG: What advice would you give to someone wanting to make paper flowers?
AB: Botanical gardens are amazing resources if you want to really get into the botany side of things. I would recommend studying real flowers and documenting them. Join the online Paper Florists group and use the search function. Ask questions online and post your work! I have all my paper flowers under the #florabeane hashtag on Instagram, including the first peony, ranunculus, mum, and lisianthus. It is SO satisfying to see how much I’ve grown since then! Do NOT compare yourself with others, just with yourself. And if it stops becoming a joyful act, stop and take a break. I know that a walk in the Maine woods re-sets my spirit every time. And above everything else, try not to let your kids eat the glue sticks. Keep your sense of humor and remember what Einstein said — “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
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