When did you start making paper flowers?
I started making flowers in the summer of 2017, just after a major life transition leaving a longtime job and moving from a large city to a small town. I’d been actively seeking a new hobby, and I was drawn to paper as a medium because of its impermanence and its (relative) eco-friendliness. I was also amazed to see how it could be transformed into such realistic-looking blooms. As soon as I tried my first flower I was completely hooked. In that way, I failed at finding a hobby—it has become a full-blown passion.
What is your absolute favorite tool?
It’s so hard to choose! I definitely grow attached to my tools, and make sure they are all within easy and predictable reach of my worktable. Sharp, comfortable scissors are key. But if I had to choose a single tool I’ve been most excited about lately, it’s a teeny squeeze bottle I fill with tacky glue to deliver a consistent, super-thin line of glue.
What type of flower do you love making the most?
Generally whichever one I’m making at the moment! Lately I’ve been really drawn to creating big masses of foliage, particularly olive branches and different varieties of eucalyptus. As far as flowers, I’ve been in a bit of a dahlia phase, but I think I’m ready now to explore something new.
If you could describe your studio in three words, what would they be?
Bright, organized… and cat-friendly!
How is working from home? Pros!? Cons!?
I like being at home in general, and when my husband and I moved to this house a little over a year ago I took the time to set up an office and work space I knew I would enjoy. I love being in my own space, wearing what I want, eating all day long, and setting my own schedule. And the biggest pro is getting to spend so much time with our beloved kitties.
Time management can be a struggle for me—I could work on flowers 24 hours a day, but getting myself to do some of the less exciting tasks (like writing up notes on how I made something, or researching shipping options) with no one supervising me is more challenging. And if I’m not careful I can accidentally not leave the house for days. (#introvertproblems)
How long did you make paper flowers before you sold your first one?
I hope to have an answer for that soon! I’m officially a licensed business now, and am working on the practical details of selling my work. I hope to have pieces available for sale on my website by the end of the year or sooner.
What are your favorite colors to work with?
I seem to be drawn most often to blushes, peachy-pinks, and dusty greens. But I really wouldn’t say I have favorites. My most recent projects have been vibrant sunflowers and deep burgundy and purple dahlias, and I loved working in those palates too.
Do you prefer to create a more realistic rendition or do you like to add whimsy to your flowers?
I definitely aim for realism and botanical accuracy as much as possible—those are the primary elements that drew me to the art form in the first place. It’s fascinating to watch and learn what other artists focus on to bring realism to their work. I might add tiny sepals to individual florets, for instance, while someone else takes the time to add detailed shading of a stem or realistic imperfections on a petal.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out with paper flowers, what would it be?
Be patient and trust that you will continually improve. I really appreciate Ira Glass’s description of creative people just starting out, and the gap they experience between their good taste—what they know to be possible in their art—and what they actually have the skill to execute. That gap can be incredibly frustrating, but it’s also normal. It probably doesn’t ever completely disappear (and probably shouldn’t—it’s what makes pursuing art so interesting), but the gap does get smaller and smaller with time and deliberate practice. If you finish something and hear an inner voice saying “but it could be so much better,” try to channel that into motivation for the next piece you make instead of getting discouraged.
What is your favorite type of paper to use?
I’m a big fan of extra fine paper (60g or 32g). Though it lacks sturdiness, I love its delicacy and natural movement. I also love doublette for certain pieces, and often fuse my own so that I can get the exact color combination I want. I hardly ever use 180g—I’m just not drawn to the aesthetic of the visible lines. I have some 180g rolls that I bought before coming to that realization, which I mostly use now for bulking up stems or buds, or for dyeing other papers.
Where did you first learn to make paper flowers?
I’m forever indebted to Tiffanie Turner and her gorgeous book The Fine Art of Paper Flowers. I studied it religiously and made close to a dozen of her flowers before I felt comfortable taking the leap to create my own templates. Although now I only work from my own designs, I still learn daily and continuously from the many amazing artists whom I follow on Instagram, and all those who share their experience in The Paper Florists Facebook group.
What are you most excited about in your life right now?
I’m excited to launch Fury Blooms as an official business while aligning it unflinchingly with my personal, ethical, and political values. A lot of that will happen behind the scenes, but stay tuned for some of the more visible ways I hope to accomplish that as well, including creating some explicitly political pieces and directing a percentage of all of my sales towards nonprofits doing vitally important work.
The other half of my artistic identity is as a writer (that identity lives online at www.amyvaniotis.com). So in that realm, I’m excited right now about a rewrite of a young adult novel I’m currently working on, along with some other works in progress, including picture books and short fiction.
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