Due to a lack of travel photos, I put my crepe paper flower photos online and you reacted very positively to this new passion. So I opened a second Instagram account to share my creations with you. It will be a ephemeral passion because I need a lot of material that I won’t be able to take with me when the travels start again. But at least until the end of 2020, you will see other creations.
First, subscribe to my new Instagram account @mehachcom
As I have received here and there questions, I will group them together in this FAQ, to help you discover a little more about this art which is still unknown in France. Maybe it will inspire you and give you some business ideas?
Are paper flowers your new passion?
No this isn’t new. At the end of middle school, in Vietnam, one had to choose a class oriented “trades”. I think it was done in the 60s in France, but it has since been abolished. But in Vietnam, still not. We had the choice between several trades and as Vietnam exported a lot of manual products, here is the list of the proposed trades: electricians, dressmakers, cooks and paper flower manufacturers. Of course, all the boys in my class chose “electrician” and the girls chose among the female activities. Let’s just say that we were very happy to have this choice because our parents were no longer teaching us to do manual things and it was an opportunity for us to learn something manual, for free.
So in Vietnam, I had about twenty hours of classes where I was taught how to make flowers out of waxed paper. The material being rather difficult to find, so the teacher was also the one who sold us flower kits, not expensive at all. I think we learned how to make about ten flowers and at the end, the exam was about a “surprise” flower and I got 9/10 😀
Several years later, I stumbled upon Lia Griffith’s blog, the guru of paper flowers (crepe, craft paper or tissue paper). I made a few flowers and then I stopped because I didn’t have enough ahaha vases
Why making paper flowers now?
Well, I wanted to decorate the apartment with fresh flowers but because of the confinement, no florist was open so I thought “why not make my own flowers?”. As I didn’t have a vase, I used Schweppes bottles 😀
It takes a lot of patience to make them?
I thought so too, but it takes me a lot less time than cutting paper! Examples of paper cuts that took me between a day and a week :
And it tires me a lot less (it takes a lot of concentration to cut paper, it’s just a crooked cut and everything is thrown in the trash). The details that you admire so much in my flowers, in fact, it’s largely due to the crepe paper I have. To be able to bend the petals, or give a gradient effect, it’s very simple. You just have to pull on the paper (it is extensible up to 250%) and the gradient effect is obtained thanks to the papers whose color is already gradient. You just have to cut the part of the paper that is fine to have the desired gradient effect.
There are 3 factories in the world that still manufacture quality crepe paper: one in Italy, one in Germany and one in the United States.
As an example, here is an extremely beautiful rose, but you can see that it doesn’t take a lot of techniques or time to make it. The video does not come from me.
How to make realistic flowers?
The best is to go on a real flower and observe its shape and color. For lack of real flowers, paper florists are content with photos on Google Images, that’s all.
The second secret is to obtain a realistic color. Flowers aren’t composed of only one color. The simplest technique would be to use two papers with colors close enough together to create some kind of color shades. The petals inside will be done with a darker color, the outside petals will use a lighter paper. You can go up to 3 shades of color per flower for a realistic effect without getting too tired. The rose has traces of green on the outside petals, this is something you can create with paint. So to have realistic flowers, it is better to actually take the time to paint petal by petal.
To succeed well in its flowers, it is advised to carry out the same flower 12 times in a row. Thus, one knows each petal by heart and masters perfectly all the steps before moving on to the next flower.
Can I make money with paper flowers?
Clearly! In France, a little less, but in the United States, where people are used to buying flowers for every imaginable party and organizing birthday parties with an Instagram corner full of flowers, it’s an activity that can become a full-time job. There is even a community of “paper florists” with a podcast, a dedicated Facebook group to learn all together to :
- make realistic flowers. Every month there is a “challenge” where the whole group learns how to make a new flower
- learn how to make a business out of it
- promote his work
The best of the best, raised to the rank of artist by making ultra realistic flowers, is Tiffanie Turner.
When I compare the prices in France vs. the United States, I find that it will be harder to make a living just by selling flowers in France.
Most paper florists in France offer paper flowers for weddings. They offer:
- a copy of the bride’s bouquet, but in crepe paper
- either the bride’s bouquet + an identical or smaller bouquet (to be thrown to the bachelors)
- the buttons
- the table decoration
- giant flowers: to rent by the day, or to buy
- workshops: for individuals or for a party
In my opinion, if you are an English speaker, it will be more interesting to sell tutorials. Anglophones are quite willing to pay $30 for a well explained course. The tutorial is either in photos or video. A PDF is provided with the petal patterns, which students can print.
What is appreciated more is being able to provide petal models in SVG format, because the Americans are hyper-equipped and they like to have an SVG to cut directly on a cutting machine like the Cricut.
Are you planning to sell your flowers?
Yes, I opened a temporary store on Etsy, where I sell my flowers until the end of my stay in France. There is
not much choice for the moment because I only sell flowers that I master perfectly and there aren’t many aahhaah. and I haven’t sold anything at all.
On Etsy, it’s hard to stand out. Handmade products mix with industrial products. When a saleswoman supplies 20 fabric roses for 2.5€ and I cost 10 times more, apart from the love of hand-made and craftsmanship, I don’t see why people will buy from me.
Most people want free shipping. Flowers aren’t that fragile and are sent very well by La Poste (French Post). However, in order not to crush them, we are obliged to leave right away on Colissimo, with a large cardboard box. And the big box ready to post Colissimo already costs me 13€. In order to make more margins, I would be better off selling bouquets. That way, I always pay 13€ for delivery, but at least there will be 4-5 flowers and I will be able to sell them for more and have more margin. For this, I need to master more varieties of flowers, so that I can offer for example a bouquet of 2 roses, 2 peonies and a lot of leaves.
By selling on Etsy, I pay: 0.20€ per ad and 5% commission both on the turnover but also the delivery costs (if I ever decide to make the customers pay). That’s very reasonable vs. Amazon who has a space dedicated to handmade, but takes at least 15% commission + validation of the application to make sure that it’s really handmade.
Have you thought about selling kits?
Yes but I calculated the fees and I arrived at a 700€ monthly salary in the best case so NOPE!
However, there may be a business opportunity by becoming a reseller of Gloria / Doublette crepe paper make by Werola, a German company. They deliver from 1000 units and they are crepe papers a little smaller than A4, it fits very well in an A4 envelope and in a letter. Very few resellers distribute them and there is a strong demand in the UK, Europe and the United States because it is the perfect paper to make roses. Its stretch is perfect to create the perfect curvature, and its double color recreates exactly the colors of the rose petals. Count 1€/unit for a resale price between 3€ and 3,6€ TTC.
I think if I stay much longer, I can make something of it, and become a part-time florist paper. We’ll see by the end of July if I manage to develop this activity a bit more (note September 2020: nope, nada ahaha). For the moment, it relaxes and calms me, it decorates the apartment and that’s the most important thing.
On that note, I leave you with the list of books & material I recommend ( beginner/intermediate/pro level)Crepe Paper Flowers by Lia Griffith (17,55€, Amazon link) and 16,77€Book Depository link
Flowersmith: How to Handcraft and Arrange Enchanting Paper Flowers by Jennifer Tran, 17,4€ (Amazon link).
Paper Flower Art by Jessie Chui, 30€ on Amazon (link) and on Book DepositoryTheFine
Art of aper Flowers: A Guide to Making Beautiful and Lifelike Botanicals by Tiffanie Turner, 24€, Amazon link or 17,55€ (Bookdepository link)
More info on the equipment to buy here
Here are some pictures of my flowers