Meet Carrie Walters of Paper Rose Co. — another one of our very favorite paper floral artists! We were so excited to have an opportunity to speak with her. Her creative vision is inspiring… she is a true artist of her craft. Stay tuned for more artist interviews to come!
LG: Tell us about your business.
CW: Late in 2016, I set up an online shop to see if I could clear out some of the flowers that were taking over my home studio. During my first year in business, I focused on custom orders and created six seasonal collections which were sold online and at artist markets and pop-ups, hosted both by locally-owned boutiques and national brands like Madewell and Nordstrom, in Richmond, Virginia.
LG: Where does your design inspiration come from?
CW: My design process typically starts with color. Seasonal color changes heavily influence me — I embrace those shifts, look for cues in the design and fashion communities, and then think about what types of flowers are seasonally appropriate within the palette I’ve created. (I know we don’t have to limit ourselves as paper florists, but I enjoy parameters!) I buy a lot of flowers from local growers, the florists I’ve befriended, grocery stores… whatever I can get my hands on. I use those as models for my collections as much as possible.
LG: How do you develop a flower design?
CW: I like to work from the stem out, staying as true to life as possible. The best way to do this is to dissect real blooms so I can see all of the parts and pieces myself, and then build them out with paper. This isn’t always possible though! I’m lucky because my Mom taught high school biology for years and she gave me a bunch of her old textbooks. My favorite, The Taxonomy of Flowering Plants, is filled cross-sections and diagrams which are extremely helpful for understanding structures. Then I’ll google image search for photos until I can figure out the rest.
LG: What do you love most about making paper flowers?
CW: I love the challenge and ability to interpret what I see in nature with my absolute favorite tools and materials. In college, my painting professor changed my entire approach by teaching us to paint the color we see, not what we think we see. This applies to paper flower making too. The more my skills progress, the more I question everything. Are those petals really rounded? Is that stem actually green? It can be infuriating because I’ll look back on a piece and realize that parts are entirely wrong. But that’s another reason to love this craft — you can always try again!
LG: Where did you learn to make paper flowers?
CW: My first encounter with paper flowers was in 2008 when I came across kits that Martha Stewart had developed. I loved it but found it nearly impossible to order crepe outside of the kits, so my interest faded once my supplies ran out. Early in 2016 I unearthed the remains of my supplies and decided to give it another look. Not only did I discover crepe paper online, but I found books and a whole community of paper flower artists —many of whom have been featured here in this series. I was hooked! I picked up Paper to Petal by Thuss and Farrell, an obsessive amount of paper, and the rest is history!
LG: Tell us about the first paper flowers you made.
CW: The first kit I bought back in 2008 was for roses. (How appropriate!) Those continue to be my most tried and true flower, though I make them much differently now. When I started my non-kit approach to making, I used Thuss and Farrell’s book to experiment with all of the different cutting, folding, and sculpting techniques, then I started with the peonies in my garden to figure out how to create my own templates.
LG: What do you use to mark/color your petals?
CW: With my background in design, I have a studio stocked with lettering and sketching supplies — most of which I’ve tried on crepe. My favorite things to use are markers for the control and precision. They’re much less messy than pastels. (Also because I have #allthecolors!) Alcohol-based, like Prismacolor Art Markers or Copics, are great because they dry quickly. I also love Kuretake water-based brush markers for painterly details. There are many cases I don’t color my paper at all though. Instead, I’ll use several complementary shades of crepe or the same hue in several different weights to add tone and color shifts.
LG: What kind of paper do you love to use?
CW: I prefer to use extra fine crepe — and the Lia Griffith line is what initially swayed me in that direction! You can achieve the most realistic blooms with lightweight crepe, and I love having the ability to build up lots of layers without weighing things down. That said, I almost always mix multiple weights and colors in my flowers to give them more texture and depth.
LG: What advice would you give to someone wanting to make paper flowers?
CW: I think that too many people are concentrating on other makers work and replicating how they do things—which I get! We all have to start somewhere and learning from other makers or tutorials makes sense. But I don’t feel like my work progressed until I began by genuinely studying flowers themselves. So my advice is to buy a lot of flowers, grow your favorite varieties, and make friends with local gardeners and florists. When I started doing these things, my interest level and curiosity piqued. It became about me figuring out techniques so that I could recreate what I saw, not figuring out how to do what other people were telling me to do or how they did things. This is what continues to push me to want to become a better artist and why I continue to want to make something new every day.
LG: What are your go-to tools when it comes to paper flower making?
CW: When it comes down to it, I honestly only need a few things… I just love experimenting with supplies! I use the 8″ Kai scissors (N5210) for 95% of my work, Aleene’s tacky glue, wire (18-gauge kraft paper wrapped is my favorite), and crepe. I’ve never used hot glue because I’m accident prone, and I hardly ever use florist tape because it drives me crazy!
LG: What’s your favorite paper flower you’ve made?
CW: I have this little bunch of wildflowers on a shelf near my desk that I love. I based them on stems from a bucket of flowers a local grower friend gave me last summer. None of them are all that special on their own, but they represent a moment when I started to realize what I could do. I just sat down that night and used my leftover scraps of paper to make little replicas of nature that would last forever. I mean, how cool is that?