A Flower Fantasy
Introducing another one of our favorite paper flower artists — the talented Suzonne Stirling! In this interview, Suzonne discusses her paper flower making practices and her road to handcrafted success. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for even more interview inspiration as we sit down with some of our other favorite Lia Griffith community members!
LG: Where did you learn to make paper flowers?
SS: I’m mostly self taught, but years ago I bought vintage paper flower books published by Dennison. Those were really helpful in learning basic construction and how to manipulate the paper. But I didn’t start making them from tissue until a few years ago when Livia Cetti’s first book came out. Somehow, that book and those humble materials were the catalyst for what’s become a near obsession (unless it’s completely normal to have 15,000 flower photos on your computer…).
LG: What do you love most about making paper flowers?
SS: The endless challenge and novelty of it. There are so many different flowers to make, and endless variations of specific types of flowers, that it always feels like a new experience. And I can never trump Mother Nature — but that doesn’t mean I can’t try!
LG: Tell us about the first paper flowers you made.
SS: I made a simple bouquet of daffodils out of plain colored paper. They were a gift for my grandmother, and despite whatever flaws may have existed, I was deliriously happy with them. She kept them for the rest of her life, long after I had improved my techniques and begged her to toss them.
LG: What’s your greatest challenge when making paper flowers?
SS: Making things too “perfect.” After years of crafting for magazines and having to make projects look pristine for the camera, it’s a real struggle for me to loosen up. My cuts are too clean, my petals too tidy. Nature is perfectly imperfect. I think the best paper flowers are too.
LG: Where does your design inspiration come from? How do you develop a flower design?
SS: The easiest way for me to develop a flower design is to use a live specimen. I photograph it from different angles, then dissect it and make templates, mark the construction and petal order, etc. I may not use those exact templates in the end, but they’re great for getting the scale right (and reminding myself how different each petal is). As for inspiration, I have a vast treasure trove of floral books that I reference. I also follow other paper flower artists, florists, and gardeners on Instagram. And I might pull a hundred different photos of a specific flower before I even begin to tackle it. I’m searching for the spirit and nuance of a flower before I delve too deeply into the construction.
LG: What kind of paper do you love to use?
SS: I use crepe paper in all the different weights and I use tissue paper as well. It really just depends on the flower and my mood. Most of my flowers contain a mix of some sort, and lately I’ve been experimenting with layering tissue onto crepe which I’m really enjoying for more structured flowers like the passion flower and bi-colored lilac.
LG: What advice would you give to someone wanting to make paper flowers?
SS: The most important part of making flowers is to have fun! And part of having fun is not judging yourself too harshly or comparing your work to others. It’s tough because it always feels like there’s someone else who’s doing a better job than you are, but even humble flowers bring joy. You don’t have to faithfully recreate every detail to make magic. Having said that, just keep practicing. Once you master your materials, your own techniques and style will begin to emerge.
LG: What are your go-to tools when it comes to paper flower making?
SS: Scissors are extremely important to me and I couldn’t live without my Fiskars micro-tips. They’re really sharp and perfect for details, but they have spring-action and no loops, so they don’t hurt my fingers or tire my hands out as easily. Glue is another item I have strong opinions about. If I’m making flowers from tissue my favorite glue is Beacon 3-in-1 Adhesive. It dries really quickly and doesn’t bleed through the tissue. If I’m making flowers from crepe, I always use Aleene’s Tacky Glue. For coloring, bleach and liquid Rit Dye give me all kinds of options when working with tissue. For crepe, Pan Pastels are a big favorite. I also use alcohol, ink, watercolors, and whatever craft paint I have on hand. Lastly, a wooden skewer. I use it for shaping and curling petals.
LG: Do you have a paper flower-making top tip you could share?
SS: Relax — and then your flowers will too. And don’t use too much glue! Just a dab will do you.
Check out some of Suzonne’s stunning creations below. Join her on Instagram and browse her website here — papercut paradise awaits you!
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