We are thrilled with the publication of our new book Paper Blooms. As you may have seen in our recent Inside Peek post, it is overflowing with creative and beautiful ideas for transforming paper into gorgeous floral designs. I recently had the opportunity to interview author, Jeffery Rudell, about his experiences on the book.
Q: When did you start working with paper, and paper flowers in particular? What attracted you to the craft?
A: I have been working with paper since 1970 when, as a second grader, I made myself a typewriter (I’d asked Santa for a real typewriter but he decided winter boots were a more suitable gift). The thing was made from an egg carton, a paper towel tube, some cardboard and a manilla file folder. I’ve been hooked ever since. Professionally, I’ve been designing paper props and window displays for the past fourteen years. Paper flowers grew out of a project I did with Tiffany & Company back in 2004. Flowers come in an inexhaustible range of shapes and colors so I never run out of things to make. Best of all, making them is fun and sharing them with others never fails to bring a smile to the face of whomever receives them.
Q: How did you go about designing the flowers in Paper Blooms?
A: I designed these flowers much the same way as I design most of my work, I sat down with a stack of paper, a pair of scissors, and a glue gun, and I started experimenting with different ways I could achieve the shapes and textures I needed in order to capture the look and feel of real-world flowers. With a book of this sort, the designs needed to not only look like actual flowers but they also had to be easy to make. It was a process of trial and error…and I made a lot of errors. A few times I went so far as to take actual flowers — Daffodils are one example — and take them apart, petal by petal, leaf by leaf, using an X-acto knife and studied the way they were made.
Q: How difficult are the flowers in Paper Blooms to make?
A: My editor and I worked hard to make sure that all of the flowers were quite easy to make. The book begins with some very beautiful flowers that are super simple to make. The second section of the book takes advantage of simple circle and star-shaped paper punches that are readily available at craft stores. The final section of the book builds on the skills covered earlier in the book and while these projects can be a little more time-consuming, they still are not difficult to make. If a person can use a scissors, a craft knife, and a hot glue gun, they have all the necessary skills to make every one of the projects. As with most crafts, readers really need only two things: a little patience and a willingness to make a mistake or two along the way.
Q: Do you have any tips for beginners who have never made paper flowers before?
A: When it comes to most craft projects I find that beginners often worry about doing things “the right way.” However, when it comes to flowers, the key ingredient for making your flowers look real is to avoid perfection. Real flowers are crooked; their leaves are often bent in odd places; their petals are sometimes droopy. I always encourage beginners to celebrate any imperfections they happen to create since these will ultimately make their flowers look more like the real thing. Oh, and remember, flower stems are rarely perfectly straight; a curved or arching stem is the fastest way to add life to a paper flower.
Q: I know it’s hard to pick among so many beautiful options, but are there any flowers in Paper Blooms that stand out as personal favorites? Why?
A: Picking a favorite is nearly impossible since I’m in love with them all. However, I remember when we were making the book, I was working with a photographer who was taking a picture of a bouquet of carnations I’d made. He was arranging them in front of the camera and as he was doing so he bent down to inhale their scent. Everyone in the room just stopped what they were doing and looked at him for a moment. When he realized what he’d done he let out a laugh, a little embarrassed I think, and said, “They look so real I forgot that they were paper.” I will always treasure that moment.
Q: Where would you like to take your paper art and career now that your book has been published?
A: While I was writing Paper Blooms I had to set aside a long list of other projects and ideas. Now that the book has been published, I’ve gone back to my sketchbooks and begun working on some of those ideas that I’ve had on hold. I’m very excited by what I’m doing but I’ll have to wait and see where this work takes me. Maybe there will be another craft book in my future but for now, I’m just enjoying the process of taking a sheet of paper and seeing what I can turn it into.
Author photo credit: Virginia Sherwood