Yesterday, I went to Buffalo to talk to Janna Willoughby-Lohr about the paper flowers and seed bombs that she makes in her store/workshop, called Papercraft Miracles. The place where the paper magic happens is located in the Block Rock area of Buffalo, New York. If you were to walk by the store/workshop, you would see a beautifully decorated picture window that features many varieties of flowers in bouquets or just scattered about the window on different levels. You might have to glance a few times before you realize that all of those flowers are made of paper. That is the magic of Janna's papercraft.
Here are some of the things that Janna said about creating paper flowers:
It’s just so much fun to take a picture of a real flower and try to figure out how to make that out of paper.
Making paper flowers is a "really fun challenge. It's a sculptural method, even though it's paper because it stretches, and we can curl it and apply coatings to it so that, once it dries it will stay in that shape."
Janna describes painting petals as "fun." Her favorite medium for that is pastels. She does say that, for certain flowers, pastels are not ideal. "Sometimes, if there is a flower with petals that have two very stark and different colors, like the blue irises that have the yellow stripe in the middle… stuff like that, you can’t really use a pastel for it." Then she chooses a different medium to get that two-toned effect in the flower.
"Most of the time, I like using pan pastels. You can use the design master spray paint for flowers, for covering silk flowers. But because I try to be as eco friendly as possible, I don’t like using spray paints and things like that if I don’t have to. They are no good for me or the earth. That’s why we like the pan pastels. They are cool because you can just brush the color on. You can blend it to make a gradation of different colors. It’s just so pretty. I love it."
Why paper flowers? What are the benefits to people of having flowers made out of paper?
"Paper flowers are good for people with allergies and they are also good for hospitals and nursing homes, places where you can’t bring fresh flowers because of the allergens and stuff like that.
How did you get started as a maker of paper flowers?
"After I quit my job, to stay home with my kid, in 2016, somebody just randomly send me an email, saying, 'Hey, we saw these paper flowers or, actually, it was sola wood.' People make these flowers out of this really thin, flexible, moldable wood. They saw a listing for that and they said, 'Can you make paper flowers for our wedding?' Even though I had never made paper flowers before, my response was, 'yeah, totally. You tell me that you want them, and I will figure out how to make them.'
I bought a Cri-cut machine, which I needed to make paper flowers."Well, at the beginning, I did because I was making them out of a shimmery text weight paper. But I didn’t really like using that paper because there are so many things that you can’t do with it. So I then started learning how to do the crepe paper flowers. I fell in love with how sculptural it is and how realistic it is and how there are different ways to do flowers. Certain flowers require certain types of paper because they have delicate looking petals and other flowers have really thick petals so you have to glue several layers together to get each one. It makes the flowers look so much more realistic. I started making them because somebody asked, “Hey, can you do this?” So it stuck. The more flowers I made, the more pictures I took and put them on the internet. And people responded with “those are awesome! I want those!” So we started selling a lot of them, which is cool."
How do people go about ordering flowers that last forever?
"You can find them on our website, at click here for papercraft miracles. If anyone wants custom flowers or custom seed bombs, there is a tab on the website. We do all sorts of custom orders. Book an appointment to talk to us about whatever custom order you want. We do have our Earth Day seed bombs. They just got listed on our website, if anyone wants to stock up for Earth Day and plant them for Earth Day."