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BB+ Episode 15: Jessie Chui

Aug 26, 2020

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TODAY’S GUEST: Jessie Chui | Crafted to Bloom

TOPIC: Paper Flower Art

Jessie Chui, owner of Crafted to Bloom and author of a beautiful new book called Paper Flower Art, joins us on the Botanical Brouhaha podcast to share her passion for paper flowers from the creation of single stems to designing artistic arrangements, or compositions as she prefers to call them. Not only does she share details about creating paper flowers, but she also shares a vision for collaboration between fresh flower florists and paper art florists to meet the unique needs of clients.

About Jessie

I started learning to make paper flowers in 2015 when I was preparing for my wedding. At the time, I was in my 7th year of family law practice, and I was really craving a creative outlet after a long days work. It turned out to be a life-changing experience because it brought me back to my roots in fine art and making things with my hands. After making all of the bouquets and centrepieces for my wedding, I realized that I really loved making 3-dimensional compositions and painting with flowers. I returned to making paper flowers a year later and thats when my work started gaining traction online. I began focusing on creating intricate paper floral compositions and brides began approaching me to make paper flowers for their weddings.

Since then, the paper flower community has really grown as our art has become very popular. Many of us have appeared in magazines such as Martha Stewart Living, and blogs like Design*Sponge. I myself have been featured in 100 Layer Cake and Green Wedding Shoes, as well as Breathe Magazine. Paper flower artists have also appeared in art exhibitions (Tiffanie Turner) and museums (Ann Wood). More and more of us are teaching the art of paper flowers as well. My book, Paper Flower Art: Create Beautifully Realistic Floral Arrangements, is only one of many.

Any paper flower artist would tell you that the greatest joy is when we make a flower so realistic that its difficult to tell the difference when compared to a real one. But what really interests me is the concept of mixing the two together and I share this love on my IGTV series Crafted and Sowed. Its incredibly exciting that as flower-lovers, we can make paper flowers that accentuate the beauty of fresh flowers.

The Advantages of Using Paper Flower with Fresh Florals

Fresh florals are incredibly beautiful, but as any florist knows, there are limitations in terms of when they are in season and/or readily available and the conditions which are required to keep them fresh-looking with or without water.

Thats where paper flowers come in. The great thing about paper flowers is that they are non-perishable, they wont wilt in the heat, they dont require a water source, and they can be created in any colour, size, and shape your heart desires.

Reasons to Consider Incorporating a Paper Flower into Your Fresh Floral Design:

  • The flower your client wants is out of season or not available

Does it seem like your brides always want flowers that are out of season? Take the bride who wants peonies for her Colorado wedding in December. You could ship them in, however theres always a chance your wholesaler wont have them in the colour you need or the peonies arrive shattered. Not to mention the cost of out of season flowers could be outrageous given their perishable nature. You could rely on a paper flower artist to make the peonies your bride wants in the colour you want at any time of the year. As the fresh flowers fade away, your bride has a paper flower that she can keep as a memento of her special day.

  • Its hot and theres no water source

As beautiful as Cafe au Lait dahlias and hydrangeas are, they will quickly wilt in heat or without hydration. Enter paper Cafe au Lait dahlias and hydrangeas! They dont require water so you wont have to worry about a water source at all. Also, consider using paper flowers in situations where there is no viable water source at all, or in flower installations where it may be time consuming or difficult to secure water tubes to the mechanics.

  • You want to use delicate flowers

Delicate flowers like poppies, or flowers with short stems like pansies, are gorgeous but notoriously difficult to use in a bouquet. A paper poppy will look equally delicate and it will hold up much better than a real one. Also, short stems are not an issue because you can request any stem length (or thickness) you want from a paper florist.

  • You want greater control over your floral design

Youll never face a stubborn stem with a paper flower. Paper flowers are constructed on metal wires so you can turn their faces in any direction you want so your masterpiece reflects your vision.

  • Your bride wants an eco-wedding

Couples are increasingly more environmentally conscious and requesting that their wedding leave a small carbon footprint. So shipping flowers in from out of your district might not even be an option. Paper flowers sourced from a local artist though, could be a great alternative. Theyre made from paper (recyclable), are non-perishable (reusable), and can be passed on from generation to generation (reduce). Better yet, if you have a stash of paper flowers, you could re-use them in your fresh bouquets and arrangements for multiple clients.

How to Work with a Paper Florist

There are many paper florists who would love to collaborate with a fresh flower florist. When you approach a paper florist, keep in mind the following:

  • Paper flowers take time to make. Most of us have 8 weeks or more lead times. Add a few weeks if you need the paper flowers shipped to you or the wedding venue. Think of us as another vendor for your clients and loop us in on the planning as early as possible.
  • Not all paper florists are the same. We all have different artistic styles and capacity. Some paper florists are comfortable making stems to be mixed with fresh florals; some might not be. Dont be afraid to reach out to a paper florist and talk about what he or she can deliver.
  • Tell the paper florist how the paper flower will be incorporated into the wedding. Will it be placed in the bouquet? Will it be placed in an arch? Will it be floating on water? The more details you can give the artist, the better he/she will be able to address any technical or practical issues when constructing the flower. For example, if the flower will be in a bouquet placed in water, youll need to let the artist know so that he/she can make the petals and/or stems water resistant. Or if you know the paper flower will be placed deep in an arrangement, you should tell the artist not to put any leaves on the stem of the paper flower.
  • Like any type of handcrafted items, paper flowers are more expensive than fresh florals. Ultimately youre commissioning a piece of artwork, and like any artwork, it takes an artist time and skill to construct it. However, its an investment that lasts for a lifetime. Connect your client with the paper florist so they can understand why your collaboration will serve them better in the long run.

Paper flower muscari in an arrangement of fresh alstromeria and tulips

Things to Keep in Mind When Incorporating Paper Flowers With Fresh Flowers

Using paper flowers in your fresh floral arrangements is likely something new for you, so here are a few things to consider:

  • Generally, you can use paper flowers in the same manner as fresh flowers, with the added bonus of being able to manipulate the stem so it moves in any direction you want.
  • If you need to add length to the paper flower, you can simply attach a stem wire to it with floral tape. For example, I extended the shorter stems of my paper muscari so the section of the blooms sat above the paper Coral Charm peony and the paper Cafe Caramel ranunculus in the arrangement (see above). Likewise, if you need to reduce the stem length, you can cut the stem with wire cutters or pliers.
  • If youre using a pin frog, choose one that has taller pins. Paper flowers are generally constructed with an 18 gauge stem wire for the stem. You may need to thicken the stem at its base (you can use floral tape) in order to fit it into the pin frog.
  • Paper flowers can be constructed so they are water resistant and it is usually sufficient to protect the paper flower from being damaged. That said, when youre building your arrangement, you could leave it until the end to add the paper flowers so theres less chance of water from other flowers getting on it. For example, I placed the paper pansies only once I had placed all other flowers (with the exception of the tulips) (see below).

A compote bowl containing both fresh flowers and paper flowers

Where to Find a Paper Florist to Work With

Where do you find a paper florist? Most of us have websites and social media presence and simply searching for #paperflowerartistor #paperfloristwill give you some leads. However, the easiest way is to head over to Paper Talk and search our Member Directory, which has paper florists from all over the world.

Another way is to follow our Paper Talk Podcast. We spotlight different paper flower artists, like Margie Keates and Ann Wood, and we also speak to florists, photographers and other industry experts about their art and experiences. We recently had Holly Heider Chapple on our podcast, and in the past, we had Alicia Schwede of Flirty Fleurs and Bella Fiori, Caroline Tran of Caroline Tran Photography, and Kelly Lemon of Kelly Lemon Photography.

In the end, we all want to serve our clients the best that we can. Giving our clients an option of using paper flowers alongside with fresh florals simply makes it easier for you to keep your clients happy and turn their dreams into reality.

Also Mentioned In BB+ Episode 15: 

Jessie Chui, a paper florist arranges parrot tulips in a paper flower composition A paper florist paints highlights on a paper flower dahlia

Follow Jessie’s Work: 

Website | Instagram | Book | Paper Talk | Paper Talk Podcast

To Find a Paper Florist Near You: Click Here


Paper Flower Art by Jessie Chui, GMC Publications, RRP $34.95, available online and in all good bookshops.

Headshots courtesy of Amber Ellis at Creating Light Studio

All other images reproduced with the permission of GMC Publications


Host: Amy McGee (Botanical Brouhaha)

BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Joel McGee

Music Written & Performed by: Landon McGee

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