The Fine Art of Paper Flowers : Interview with Tiffanie Turner

Crepe paper flowers by Tiffanie Turner

Have you ever stood in front of a painting or looked at an image online and wondered how it was physically possible that someone captured something in such a hyperrealistic way without photographing it? When thumbing through Tiffanie Turner's new book, The Fine Art of Paper Flowers, I had the same reaction, "How is it even possible that these are paper?" In addition to sharing all of her techniques and easy-to-trace templates in her beautiful how-to book, Tiffanie graciously answered some of my craft questions! Scroll down for our interview and links to her new book!

Crepe paper flowers by Tiffanie Turner
Photos curtesy Tiffanie Turner and Penguin Random House

L: Hi Tiffanie! I’m so excited about the launch of your new crafting book The Fine Art of Paper Flowers. I’d love to hear how you became so proficient in creating such realistic blooms? Do you work any any other fine art mediums like acrylic or watercolor?

T: Thank you, Lindsey. I'm very excited, too! I think it all boils down to paper flowers being my daily practice, ever since I stumbled onto them about four years ago. When you become obsessed with something, it is natural to want to do it every day, and if you do something every day, you naturally become adept at it. Now I've worked at it so long that the flowers often flow out of my fingertips without too much second guessing or adjustment.

I was an amateur botanical watercolor painter almost 20 years ago, which I loved to do, and worked then the same way I do now, on things that take myriad hours to finish and keep me up late at night regularly. I stopped when I got married and when I came back to botanical art, this is how it manifested itself. Three-dimensionally, in paper.

crepe paper flower by Tiffanie Turner

L: What’s your favorite uncommon tool or repurposed household item you use for crafting? -- I always keep craft-designated forks handy to wrap yarn pom poms and create cool printed textures by dipping the tines in paint.

T: I have a long vintage metal hat pin which I talk about in the book. My husband gave it to me about a decade ago, and I use it for everything from rolling the edges of rose petals back to creating desiccated looking petals by squashing them along the hat pin, to applying the tiniest touches of glue in hard to reach places inside a flower. Indispensable! (But you could also just use a toothpick.)

L: What flower best represents your personality? I’d be a poppy. It was my first time growing them this year and I think they’re so dramatic and their stems are so whimsical.

T: That is a terribly difficult question, but for now I'll have to say the carnation. Underestimated in the past but actually really wonderful.

L: Where are your favorite botanical gardens? Where are your favorite places to find real-life inspiration for your paper blooms?

T: While I do enjoy a botanical garden (the San Francisco Botanical Garden is lovely), they are often not flower-dense, so my real-life inspiration comes from my local florist, from all of the wonderful photographs of flowers you can find online, and from field studies wherever I travel. I am often inspired by other people's representation of a flower, whether it be the garden roses in the paintings of the Dutch masters, or a random photograph where otherwise opaque flower petals seem translucent. I love to translate what other people see in flowers into paper.

L: My favorite project in the book is the Scabiosa-Flowered Zinnia, any particular page or project in this book that you’re obsessed with?

T: I love that one so much. I also love the four little sections of the book where I share all of my ideas and best tips on special treatments for the papers and flowers, like the sections titled "Coffee, Ink & Staining Paper with Paper", and "Imperfections & Wilt---Dead Paper Flowers". My favorite flowers in the book are a moving target, but right now top contenders are the Lilac Pom-Pom Poppies and the Rosa Perle d'Or.

L: One last thing! Is your workspace neat and tidy? Or organized chaos? We all know I’m the latter.

T: I learned a long time ago that there is no time in a 90-hour-a-week career to wait for the workspace to be neat and tidy. I do have a studio across town, but much of the time I work at home to be able to care for our two children. So things will get really out of hand at home, to the point where we need to go eat dinner at the coffee table if I'm near the end of a project, because there is no where to sit anywhere else. I do make a point to start with a fresh and clean work area at the beginning of each new project though, so it kind of goes in waves.

L: Thanks again Tiffanie! My Amazon cart is already full of colorful crepe paper! Speaking of Amazon, The Fine Art of Paper Flowers is already on the Best Seller list-- so snatch up your copy here!

Crepe paper flowers by Tiffanie Turner

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