When did you first discover paper flowers?
In 2015, I was on Pinterest and saw a post for Martha Stewart’s Giant Crepe Paper Rose. I watched the whole video from her TV show and was blown away as to how beautiful it all turned out. I had no idea what “crepe paper” was and did a search online. Lia Griffith came up with tons of tutorials on crepe paper flowers, list of materials, etc. Then I stumbled upon the art of Jennifer Tran, Tiffany Turner and Kate Alarcon and I couldn’t believe how much beauty was made out of paper and I was not aware of it until that day! I ordered my first paper from Carte Fini and the rest is history! I was forever under the paper floral spell and it felt like no matter what I did with this paper, it would always turn out gorgeous.
What has it been like to work a full time job and also run a paper flower business?
I started my Etsy store in the Fall of 2015. I had no idea it will take up so much of my time after I come home from my full-time job. I used to travel two hours to and from my previous job, but now I am 15 minutes away from home which makes a huge difference. I’ve replaced the time spent on the road with giving attention to my six and eight-year-old boys, doing homework, dinner, etc. I’ve made a promise to myself that whatever I do with my flowers, it had to be done only after they are in bed. Nights and weekends only, that is my creative schedule. On occasion, if there is a short deadline on a project, my awesome husband takes over with the boys completely and I close myself downstairs in my “studio”. I am sure all my flower maker friends can relate to having to stay up all night to finish a commission. The days after are not easy at my day job, but thankfully, I don’t do that too often. I tend to push myself in finishing an order almost right away so that I can clear up my schedule for a possible new order or if life comes in the way.
If you could describe your studio in three words, what would they be?
(Organized) Clutter, Color-splash, Treasures
How long did you make paper flowers before you sold your first one?
I started in February of 2015th, I made flowers all the way until November, for gifts exclusively. My Mom encouraged me to start selling them, I thought that would not go so well, but the first day I opened my shop and announced it within my circle of friends and relatives, I had an order! I love hearing that “Cha-Ching” sound from my phone! I was so not ready, though! I had no boxes, no idea how I would ship it, label it, etc. Thankfully, the arrangement was all pre-made, so all I did that first night was figuring out shipping, which is something that I still don’t enjoy doing. My first sets were made with chocolate candy inside. I later decided not to make them since I was eating most of the candy. I still sell a candy wrapped arrangement to the same first customer/friend every year, but the thought of my flowers being ripped apart for the candy was not sitting well with me. I know, I am way too attached to my creations!
What are your favorite colors to work with?
My favorite colors are the nuanced crepe paper colors – all of them. My other most favorite is the Metallics. It is probably because it takes me to my childhood when I used to make flowers from chocolate foil. There is something so magical with the way the light hits them, the smoothness of the curves, the delicate structure of the flower, almost as delicate as the real one, but so unreal at the same time.
Do you prefer creating a more realistic rendition or do you like to add whimsy to your flowers?
I’ve been wondering about that myself. I am trending towards making more realistic floral recreations lately, especially with the flowers I use as models from my garden, but my metallic crepe paper flowers are probably my most popular ones and I love incorporating lights, musical boxes, other props in these sets, adding more enchanted look and an added function of my art. Most of my customers search for the whimsy and I am so happy to be able to offer it. If I have to make something in a short amount of time, I would rather make a whimsical variation of it, for sure.
Can you tell us what it was like growing up in beautiful Bulgaria?
Oh, Bulgaria, my heart is there, has never left. I have been in the USA for most of my adult life but my childhood years, all the way up to 23 years old gave me the foundation of who I am today. My Mom knitted, crocheted or sew all my beautiful clothes, some were from the wool woven and hand-dyed by my Mom or Grandma and it also came from my grandparents’ sheep. I still have some of these sweaters. I can never give these up! Summers, my brother and I helped with hand-weaving heavy colorful blankets and rugs for the cold winters. My Mom always made fun projects with me for different occasions and experimented with different mediums. We’ve made jewelry, décor, wearables, gifts, you name it – we’ve made it. Bulgarian traditions are infused with Art and love of everything handmade. I’ve grown up with it as a natural environment and being creative was a huge part of my life. When I was growing up, I attended every possible artistic class. I’ve done Macramé, Knitting, Drawing, Ikebana, Cooking, Choir, Graphics Design. Somehow, all that I’ve done and learned throughout the years, came full circle with making paper flowers. That “Aha” moment came and gave me the reason why I’ve done all of it before that point, and that is to prepare me for this beautiful artform. My other skills never felt as completed and as satisfying as my paper flower making, and I am saying this knowing that there is so much more to learn.
What is the best part about where you live now?
Definitely having a family of my own – my husband and our two boys, our home and my beautiful garden. I am grateful that we live in this country where there are so many opportunities, so much potential to be who you want to be and I am still able to share my traditions, my heritage, my culture and make sure my kids appreciate everything we have. On a selfish note, I am so excited to have access to all my craft materials and tools and use them to create beauty, to pour all my creative energy into anything I want.
What really gets you in the flow and excited to create flowers?
It is really inspiring to walk around my garden and look at every new flower that has come out to surprise me! I wish I could re-create every single variation of them and sometimes I get way too overwhelmed with so many to pick from. I feel I might not be able to capture a flower before it wilts, it drives me crazy. Every year I get new ones and my inspiration never ends. My photo library is filled with flower pictures of future projects. My Facebook Paper Florist group and Instagram paper florists are also a great source of inspiration. So much talent, so many ideas, so many flowers, so much beauty, everything is just a click away!
What do you do while you make flowers? Watch tv, listen to music or podcasts? Do tell us all the details!
I am catching up with Blue Bloods, Chicago PD, Bosch, Sneaky Pete, The Americans, Game of Thrones. When I first started, I had Bulgarian Folk Music in the background, but some of the songs would get me too emotional so I stopped listening to them. I also listen to Lindsey Stirling, love that girl! I might also do the laundry! My studio is my laundry room so why not do some housework while I am at it! This is why I have headphones on at all times.
When I first started making my flowers, I was using the kitchen counter. It didn’t go too well with all the moving of everything up and down. My husband installed a long counter into a built-in closet in the utility room and having a centralized space to keep everything always makes life easier.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out with paper flowers, what would it be?
I have a few things, if that is ok! Pick quality paper, it makes all the difference! Learn the basics from online tutorials, books, classes, whatever works best for your learning style. Start experimenting with your own templates, cancel out the noise, but still “listen” to social media, there will be people around you who mean well, but not necessarily support you, don’t get discouraged, it is a process that takes time. It sounds confusing, I know. Find your own style and keep on expanding. In a world where everything can be easily copied these days, you could never replicate that personal point of view, the uniqueness which comes with the artists’ individual experience.
What are you most excited about in your life right now?
My boys growing up and showing me their interests and talents! And of course, me exploring the world of paper flower art, which gives me so much joy and satisfaction. I will be teaching a flower making class in the Fall at Vogt Visual Arts Center, Tinley Park, Illinois and I am so looking forward to sharing the love for creating beauty with your own hands.
Find more of Marineta!
Be sure to head on over to Events If you are in the Illinois area! Marineta is offering introductory classes to crepe paper flowers! Find out more below!
We all have something in common, our love for paper floristry. Let's get to know each other a bit more, meet artists from all over the world in every walk of life!