Sue Beech goes by the creative alias A Petal Unfolds – a suitably romantic name for the ever-so-carefully crafted, beautiful, crepe paper flowers that she brings to life. From the incredibly detailed, made-you-look-twice ranunculi, to over-sized, fantastical peonies, Sue's designs light up everything from dining tables to shop window displays.
Before her Papier Atelier workshop on the 18th May, we wanted to find out more.
How did you start making paper flowers, Sue?
I originally took a degree in fine art printmaking and worked a lot with photography. My work has always been close to nature and at that time I would walk for miles in the countryside looking for things to photograph that caught my eye. I started to feel restless with working digitally and not always finding what I wanted every time I went photographing. So I started to go back to making with my hands again and trying different crafts – that’s when I stumbled upon making paper flowers.
I took an online class with the blogger Brittany Jepson of House That Lars Built, which I loved. I then bought a vintage book from the 1960s on eBay that taught me more techniques and from there I could start to come up with my own techniques and ways of making flowers.
Could you tell us about those techniques and your ways of making flowers?
If it’s not a commission I’m making, I would probably be influenced by the season and which flowers I’m seeing around and on social media. Sometimes I might see a flower styled by a florist on Instagram and immediately want to make it.
To start creating, I will try and get hold of a real flower to study if I can. If not, then I’ll study images online and start to think about how I would make it. Then I’ll think of the type of paper that I think will be best and start making from there.
What tools do you use?
I use crepe paper to make all of my flowers and floral wire as a framework for each flower. I have a few pairs of scissors that I like for different cutting techniques. To put the flower together I use a tacky glue. I also keep a mechanical pencil, ruler, scalpel and wire cutters close by.
How long does it take?
It really varies depending on the complexities of the particular flower. It can take me half an hour to make a flower, or a number of days to make something like an allium.
What’s your favourite flower to make?
Most often it’s my latest flower because it’s exciting to make something new. This week I made a magnolia and so that’s my current fave.
Apart from natural flowers, what inspires you?
So many things… watching films, going to exhibitions, travelling, fashion magazines, living near the sea in Brighton.
Apart from making faux-flowers, why else do you like paper?
I love how direct a material it is and how the possibilities seem endless to what can be made with it. I also like how nostalgic it can feel when so much of our time is now spent in a digital world.
Do you have paper flowers around your home rather than real flowers?
I do buy real flowers sometimes and I do have paper flowers around too. I have to try and limit the paper flowers though because they take over the house. I must admit I’ve had to resort to taping them to the walls now because I’ve ran out of storage space!
If you'd like to learn how to create paper flowers with A Petal Unfolds, sign up to the Papier Atelier workshop Sue is hosting on May 18th.