It’s been a little over a month since I finished this purple and pink crepe paper bouquet and delivered it to the lovely bride, however, this bouquet has been in the making since January of this year. As fate would have it, I ran into an old friend at a social gathering, and she took a chance on me by asking me to make a paper bouquet for her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Daphne. She wanted to gift Daphne with a bouquet that would be her wedding keepsake and stay with her for many years to come. Of course I said Yes to the bouquet!
After speaking directly with Daphne about what she wanted in her bouquet, I came up with this: A Study in Purple.
“A Study in Purple” was an experiment of sort and demonstrated my work in progress of this bouquet. My intention was to see how I could incorporate colours that would make the bouquet look both light and dark, which I’ve learned is something I love to do in my arrangement – using colour to create movement and interest. I thought it was at a really interesting spot, at a fork in the road so to speak. Adding any more light coloured or dark coloured flowers would turn it into something different.
**In real life, the marionberry colour is closer to a dark fuschia, and the lavender purples have a warmer tone rather than a blue/cool tone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the marionberry colour properly so my photos really do not do the colour justice. As for the lavender purples, it seems to be a Save to Web issue on as it looks perfect on Photoshop, but not so much here.
In the end, after consulting with Daphne, I added pops of pink. The final bouquet looked like this:
A little different. I know.
It was actually hard to let go of my “A Study in Purple” bouquet because that had been etched in my mind for so long (several months actually).
Some of you have asked me about my process: Prior to making any flowers, I generally plan out my bouquet and make a list of colours and flowers. I’m not a florist by any means, so I’m quite inexperienced at putting a bouquet together without extensive planning. I am also not familiar with a lot of flowers, foliage, fruit branches etc. so I do a lot of research on the Internet, Googling for foliage or flowers in a certain colour. Thank goodness seasons are not an issue for us paper florists!
First and foremost, I see my bouquet in colours before anything else. Tone and saturation are very important to me, so I have to know what materials/colours I am working with. I find it very helpful to set out my crepe paper to see what colours I have that would work together. When I’ve determined what the colours of the bouquet will be, and how the colours will work against/with each other, I match my colours with a flower. There’s a lot of Googling, looking through my flower books, and visiting nurseries (if possible) at this stage, looking for inspiration. I then consider if the flowers I chose (if given a list by the client, I’ll first consider those flowers) would work next to each other considering their shapes and sizes. If the bouquet has more than 1 or 2 main colours, I’ll take images of flowers from the Internet, cut them out, and paste them into a Photoshop document to see if they work with each other. It’s more of a guide for me to work towards, rather than a client proposal, as it helps me visualize the final product.
There’s a challenge in every bouquet, and for this one, I found it challenging to incorporate a pink that would work. Light pink would look too sweet with the other light lavenders and purples. A bright medium pink would look out of place in a bouquet with such rich and royal colours. My friend Marilyn had mentioned she liked the crepe colour marionberry, and after some further experimentation, I decided that was the right colour for this bouquet. It wasn’t too cool or too warm, and looked rich enough to compliment the purples.
Daphne had mentioned that she liked cascading bouquets (really, who doesn’t?). So I created a semi-cascading effect to emulate a cascading bouquet by using only foliage and hellebores. Hellebores looks very natural lower to the ground and at the base of arrangements. They come in so many subtly muddy and dark colours that they’ve become my favourite flowers to work with to add visual interest. In this bouquet, I thought they looked like little butterflies. I really love the effect they created.
I love working with fine crepe and there just isn’t enough variety of purple. I already dip dyed and bleached my purple crepe paper to get some variation, but there wasn’t enough variation to my liking. I needed a warmer tone of purple, like my dress. What was needed was the purple of a foxglove. So I made a foxglove using Copic markers in the purple I wanted.
I am so happy that I made the foxglove! It was a bit of a gamble as I had never made it before and it was one of the last flowers I made during crunch time. But I’m so glad I did. The colour and pattern creates a wonderful contrast to the numerous round blooms. It draws the eye upward with its tower of bell-like flowers. It is a bit wild and I love that it’s not a typical wedding flower. I placed it in it’s natural position – straight and upward – as if shooting out of the soil with green succulents at its base.I positioned the foxglove so it was off-centre and bending slightly backwards to reduce it’s height, mindful of where the bride’s face would be. To support the tower of blooms from shifting side to side, stems of foliage were placed behind and slightly around it for support.
In a bouquet this wide, there is a tendency for the flower stems to want to shift around and move back and forth while carried, thereby losing the shape and arrangement I had carefully curated. My solution is to use foliage to function as structural support, placing them directly behind the flower stems that have long stems and/or prone to moving. I slip the leaves and shorter foliage between/around blooms to create further stability. I find foliage in the 180 grams works better than any other weight of crepe paper because it is stiff enough to hold its shape and support other stems. So that is why you’ll see that I have a TON of foliage behind my bouquets – it’s not just for fullness or interest; It’s a crucial structural element for a bouquet this size and shape.
I am also mindful that the bouquet has to look good from all angles. I can’t control the angle in which photos of the bride and bouquet will be taken, but I try, to the best of my ability, to ensure there is sufficient visual interest on all sides. So I make sure to put flowers on both sides of the bouquet and the top/back. I don’t put too many flowers in the back because I want the bride to hold the bouquet close to her body. If I put too many flowers, it would be too large for her to carry comfortably and it would look too big. The bouquet should be an extension of the bride’s body and therefore should not overwhelm or overshadow her.
I am extremely fortunate that Kat approached me specifically because she liked my work and my style, and not because I was the only paper flower artist she knew. I could not have made this bouquet without having confidence that she and Daphne would like the bouquet without ever really seeing a proposal. Kat was my very first paying customer and I am forever grateful that she gave me the opportunity to show what I can make, if given the chance. After posting “A Study in Purple” on my Instagram account, it led to a lot of interest in my work and led to subsequent commissions. I have Kat and Daphne to thank for this.
It’s been a week since I packed and shipped this pink blush crepe paper bouquet out to Marilyn.
When Marilyn first approached me about the possibility of me making her a crepe paper bouquet for her wedding vow renewals in August, my availability had just opened up. Originally, I had been in discussions to make bouquets for a friend for her wedding in August, but shortly before I left for New York, she had changed her mind and decided not to proceed with what we had discussed. I was a bit disappointed as I had been excited to make the bouquet we had talked about, but at the same time, relieved that she told me before I put anymore effort into it. In hindsight, what at the time was a disappointment was in a way a blessing in disguise. If I had ended up making my friend’s bouquets, I would have had to turn Marilyn’s request down. Funny how life works out.
Today, I could not imagine myself having not made Marilyn’s pink blush crepe paper bouquet. The process has taught me so many things.
I have come to realize that Marilyn is my ideal client. She loves my work and style and therefore, fully trusts me to make her a bouquet that she will love. She appreciates the art of paper flowers so I know that she will cherish her bouquet forever. She herself makes paper flowers so she understands the labour-intensiveness of the art and how that is reflected in the cost. And most importantly, she is a generous and kind soul.
Also through the process, I’ve been able to push myself to work with forms that I had previously admired from afar. I made paper flowers that I had not made before, for example, the wild roses, or with paper flowers that I have since improved upon, like the sweet peas and spray roses. I used colours that I hadn’t used before, like the english rose fine crepe which has a dusty tone to it.
There were a few times during the process that I doubted myself and thought that the colours would never work. I made a bunch of cafe au lait dahlias thinking I would use at least one or two as focus flowers, and then decided they didn’t fit. I even made ferns which didn’t make it to the final cut. I pushed on and slowly, everything came together as I had envisioned it.
Some of you have asked me about my process for this pink blush crepe paper bouquet. I started with a vague idea of the colour scheme being blush and pink. The actual colours within the scheme is always determined by the colours of my crepe paper, and none of my crepe paper came in blush or in the various pinks that I wanted, so I had to be creative.
I used white and off-white crepe paper and paint on the light pinks to get a light pink glow in the blush peonies. I did something similar for the blush garden roses, except I used petals cut from white crepe partially dyed with pink food colouring, and alternated those petals with white and off-white coloured petals. To ensure the peony kept its shape, I used both 60 grams and fine crepe for the centre petals, and relied on the 180 grams crepe paper for the outer petals.
For the pink Juliet Roses, I didn’t have a peach coloured crepe in 180 grams (I had to use the 180 grams to create the rigid cup around the centre petals; I could not achieve a deep enough cup with the double-sided peach/white crepe), so I used the Orange Tint Pan Pastel to paint the inside of the cupped petals to achieve that peach glow. For the centre petals, I mixed different fine crepe pinks to obtain the illusion of a peach coloured centre.
I attached leaves to every flower stem, not necessarily because I wanted to finish each flower with leaves, but because it adds greenery directly beside the flower, creating a base of green and hiding the stems. It also creates depth behind the flowers. Each leaf was brushed with Permanent Red Extra Dark Pan Pastel for detailing.
I’ve found that my arrangements work best with dark greenery because it creates shadows and darkness – depth – where it may not exist. I only use light greenery for highlights or to create lightness.
This bouquet is wider at the front and narrower at the sides, so it has a back and a front. The front has all the beautiful flowers. The back has less flowers and only flowers that can hold their shape if the bouquet was laid on top of it. I love this form for how it looks, but I also love this form 2 reasons: one, because I can devote all my time on making one side beautiful and perfect, and two, there’s no point of having my customer pay for my time and effort to make a back that no one will see but the bride.
The tricky thing about this particular bouquet was its size. It only has 55-60 stems, yet it just looked bigger and bigger because I kept on placing so many beautiful flowers in the front! I really couldn’t put many flowers in the back because it would have made the bouquet too bulky, and Marilyn would have had to hold the bouquet out and away from her body. This type of bouquet is meant to be held close to the body. I ended up placing peonies facing upwards rather than towards her to suggest there are flowers in the back.
I went with a neutral cream coloured ribbon for Marilyn’s pink blush crepe paper bouquet. It’s made of polyester (so I had to use a lighter to melt the ends to keep them from fraying), however, it looks like linen. I think it will look good with Marilyn’s champagne coloured gown. Oh how I wish I had access to all of those fancy silk ribbons that come in muted, natural colours!
I drew inspiration from the pink blush crepe paper bouquet when I made Marilyn’s daughter’s maid of honour bouquet. It’s 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the bridal bouquet with 30 or so stems and included almost all of the same flowers. It’s more of a loosely held bouquet, and it has no front and back, although I prefer the side with the wild rose and Juliet Rose.
I also used similar flowers from the pink blush crepe paper bouquet for the mothers’ corsages and the groom and groomsmen boutonnieres. Those were really fun to make as once I made one, I knew how to make the other ones.
If you got through all of that – YOU’RE AMAZING!! I hope it helps you with your own process or at least help you think about your own process.