I love it when someone surprises me with a bunch of fresh flowers, they really do brighten up a room, my only problem is that it doesn’t take long for them to go limp, curl up, turn brown and die. That is why for our wedding last year my husband and I made our own flowers. We still see them on display whenever we visit family, it’s a lovely reminder of our special day and I love that they have lasted so long. So naturally I’m extremely fond of handmade flowers of any kind which is why Paper Flowers caught my attention.
Making our wedding flowers took a lot of time and energy, it was enjoyable but it was also long and tedious, so you might think that I would have had enough by now, but like a moth to a flame, I am drawn in, (also an initial browse through the book reassures me that the origami flowers that we made so many of are not included, phew!).
There are a variety of reasons that you might want to make paper flowers instead of having real ones, apart from them not dying, paper flowers are cheaper and can look just as effective. Sure the scent isn’t there (that’s what candles and reed diffusers are for right?), but then neither are the headaches (lilies?) or sneezes, you can have any colour you wish, you don’t have to worry about what is in season, and if someone knocks a vase over there is no soggy mess to clean up.
In Paper Flowers, papercraft expert Denise Brown (author of Paper Jewelry and 101 Things to do with an Envelope) shows you how to make 35 different types of flowers using a variety of techniques such as layered découpage, papier mâché and quilling, with a range of papers including crêpe, tissue and everyday gift wrap.
The introduction is brief but includes useful advice on materials and equipment, then the projects are divided into three chapters: Simple Yet Stunning, Bright and Beautiful, and Sophisticated Style. Each project includes numbered step-by-step instructions with accompanying hand drawn colour illustrations that are placed near to the text, (but are not numbered). There is also a list of materials and equipment and a full page colour photo of the finished flower(s).
Projects cover a wide range of skill levels, patience and time. Some I thought more appropriate to make with children (Daffodils), while others left me feeling a little daunted (Thistle Heads).
The start of the first chapter didn’t leave me particularly excited, but I warmed to the book as soon as I came across the Loopy Flowers. Denise describes them as ‘a more sophisticated version of old-fashioned paper chains’, and while that is true, I still don’t think that description does them justice. They are pretty and elegant and would make the perfect decoration for a Spring or Summer gathering, as would the Daisy Chains also included in the first chapter.
I’m not sure the flowers in chapter 2 are any more bright and beautiful than those in the previous chapter, but there are a few projects that I really love. The Flowering Cactus Lights are certainly a bit odd, but I like their quirkiness and think they are an interesting idea, and I also like the Waterlilies created from colouring tracing paper petals. Although wasn't sold on the aesthetic of the Lollipop Flowers, they are a magical idea for a children’s party and make me think of Willy Wonka’s chocolate room where everything is edible.
Some of the most effective projects from this chapter include the Triple Pinks which at a glance could easily pass for actual carnations, and the Grape Hyacinths which may not look real but have a striking visual structure.
The only project I didn’t like in the whole of this chapter was the Patterned Daffodils. It doesn’t matter how well you create a daffodil, even without the use of an eggbox, it is always going to remind me of of the eggbox daffodil easter cards that I made every year as a kid at school, (sorry).
Chapter 3, Sophisticated Style is by far my favourite chapter. The projects that caught my eye definitely seemed more demanding on time and skill. The first project is Faded Roses and it has made me realise something quite interesting, that there is a possibility that I don’t hate crêpe paper. Do you remember at primary school when you tried to glue crêpe paper to something and the colour would wash out of it? You would end up with red dye all over your hands and weird soggy glue patches all over your work. I always considered it to be a pointless paper that ruined everything. However it turns out that if you stick to white crêpe paper and gently paint your own colour onto it, you are left with with something far lovelier and more magical than you could have imagined. I was also impressed with the use of crêpe paper for the Peony Wreath and the Thistle Heads, and even though I’m still apprehensive about using it myself, I can’t deny how brilliant these projects look.
While I’m a little less enthused with the Elegant Lilies and Climbing Vine (cellophane flowers), my favourite project of the book has to be the Dandelion Clocks, yes they are made from just as much foam ball and toothpicks as they are tissue paper, but they are so unusual and look so delicate, I can imagine that they would look amazing if you filled a whole room with them.
As much as I appreciate handmade flowers, my expectations of a book called Paper Flowers were pretty low, I thought it would be repetitive and I would get bored. Thankfully I was wrong, the best thing about this book is the huge range. The range of papers used, the range of techniques included, the range of skill levels needed, and the range of styles. Sure, I didn’t like the look of all of the flowers, but with so much variety you are unlikely to love every single one, however it's a lovely craft book and I still appreciated the ones I didn’t want to make as much as those I did.