A Spring Wedding On A Boat - Lindsay & Lee

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Last Spring, I made a large paper bouquet and matching boutonniere for an Etsy client of mine having a "Nautical themed wedding". I featured the flowers on the blog back in May because I just loved how they came out. Well, you know what I love even more? Their adorable wedding ON A BOAT! An intimate setting on a river boat on the Colorado in Southern Texas, captured by Nadine Photography: 11728854_1108434749186726_2629762631484463659_o11731569_1108435275853340_8694566607349263279_o11794075_1108435169186684_3729283538480112766_o 11807287_1108435315853336_2474844656938599923_o

See all the shots on the blog at nadinestudio.com

And check out the bouquet in the Etsy shop!

New & Improved Flower & Bouquet Construction!

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The Paper Florist has been a segment of my business now for almost 8 months, and in that time I have sold a total of 22 bridal bouquets and 4 large table arrangements. Add to that over 50 corsages and boutonnieres and over 200 loose single stem flowers, and The Paper Florist has brought in 16% of my business' net revenue for 2015. And I should mention that more than half of that revenue was earned in the last month... Happy wedding season! With growth comes opportunity for improvement in my products and efficiency in my building process. I started out making flowers for my own wedding, and I constructed my flowers and bouquets from what I could find. I'd cut a square base from a cardboard box or scrap of cardstock I had lying around, then glue a cube of dry floral foam to one side. Then I'd trim down a paper towel roll and glue it to the other side, stuffed with packing peanuts for stability. This was the skeleton inside every bouquet I made until a month ago:

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While I appreciate the idea of reusing and recycling things like paper towel rolls and packing peanuts, it's just not a sustainable business model, at my size. (I ran out of packing peanuts after the third bouquet, and I guess I don't order enough products from companies that still use them! And we don't go through paper towels fast enough..) Not to mention the labor involved with constructing a base like this for every bouquet, on top of the flowers! Once the bouquet was constructed (flowers on short bamboo stems stuck into the floral foam and secured with glue) there was also the finishing touches, like cutting and attaching leaves to cover the base and then gluing and pinning ribbon to the handle so it looked pretty:

_MG_1720To keep my prices reasonable, I had basically left the labor cost of bouquet assembly out of the equation, and was just charging for the flowers that went into it. It would take anywhere from 30-60 minutes per bouquet to assemble, so if I was going to be able to keep growing I'd have to find a more sustainable solution.

So, I did some research and tried out some different materials and methods, and decided on paper-covered wire stems and a new building process (from petal to bouquet) that cuts the assembly time way down. The finished arrangement is much more realistic looking, and the assembly is just like putting a live bouquet together (except its easier because the flowers are now on wire!). As I was pulling together my first bouquet on the new wire stems, it occurred to me that there was a time in my childhood that I thought I wanted to be a florist. It really feels like I am now!

Check out the first order I sent out the door with the new assembly!

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The stems also look much more realistic in a clear vase, and are much easier to arrange than the bamboo sticks I used to use. If I get some free time in the next few weeks, I plan to fill my new apartment with some fresh arrangements using these bad boys. I'll definitely share the results here!

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Want to order your own? Lots of examples are for sale on the Etsy shop, but the possibilities are endless! Let's chat!

All-White Bridal Bouquet - Featured in Anna Pearl's Curiosities!

A couple of months ago, my aunt asked me if I would like to put some of my paper flowers in the front window of her shop. My Aunt Sharon owns a vintage shop on Main Street in Niantic, Connecticut that's just too cute for words. If you're ever in the neighborhood (or driving on I-95 and need a break) definitely stop in and check out Anna Pearl's Curiosities. There is something for everyone, and Sharon is brilliant at finding one of a kind antiques and vintage treasures. The shop window faces Main Street, and for the spring months she installed a wedding-inspired display; vintage jewelry, accessories, veils and even a vintage dress. She thought a bouquet would be a perfect addition, and would give my business some extra exposure (can you tell she's super supportive of me??).

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She suggested an all-white bridal bouquet, to match the white and ivory pieces in the window, and I agreed it was the best option for something that would be appealing to most brides. I was going to include my most popular flowers--roses, calla lilies, hydrangeas and a couple of peonies. But as I got going on the assembly of the bouquet with the mix of ivory and white, I was loving how it looked with just roses and hydrangeas, so I kept it simple:

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The bouquet is finished with ivory satin ribbon and pearl accents, and as always is lightweight, durable, and won't wilt in the summer heat! With some basic care and dusting, it'll last forever--no expensive preservation needed!

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I'm in the process of making a second bouquet that will be more "hands on" for customers so you can feel how lightweight they really are and see the flowers up close and personal. But in the meantime, I think this one looks great in the shop window!

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The listing for the all-white Rose and Hydrangea paper bouquet is live on the Etsy shop, but as always it's just a sample of what you can order. I love working with custom colors and special requests.

And if you're in the Niantic area, go visit my Aunt Sharon and tell her Katie sent you! [googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d2996.330514154921!2d-72.1942835!3d41.323425799999995!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x89e6108950899ef7%3A0xdcb3f8fe31e1f1f8!2s281+Main+St%2C+Niantic%2C+CT+06357!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1433793439665&w=600&h=450]

Nautical Paper Bouquet & Boutonniere - Peonies & Roses in Ivory & Coral

_MG_1836A few weeks ago, an Etsy customer wrote me a message asking for a bouquet for her nautical themed wedding. She wanted a large bouquet in whites and coral tones, with a mix of flower varietals. She also asked for a coordinating boutonniere. We went with peonies and roses, and I think the peonies add some more dimension to the bouquet. She asked for a navy and white striped stem wrap, so I did an ivory satin base with a thinner navy grosgrain spiraling around. The pearl accents and rope detail really complete the nautical, preppy look!_MG_1844

One of my favorite tips to give couples when they're planning a big wedding reception is to reuse the flowers from the ceremony at the reception. Flowers tend to be one of the most expensive elements of decor, and if you can move alter arrangements and pew decor to the reception venue and use them as centerpieces or to fill out your accessory tables, you'll save a lot of money. So frequently when I'm coordinating a wedding, I'll ask the bride if she has a plan for the flowers and bouquets after the ceremony, and she looks at me like I have ten heads. My bouquets are sized to fit really nicely in a short vase, mason jar, or even just a pretty glass (shown below). This is also a great way to display your paper bouquet after the wedding! Your bridesmaids (and you) don't want to carry around bouquets all night, and if you lay them down on a table, there's a greater possibility of them getting damaged (especially if they're real flowers) or getting lost by the end of the night. If you plan to use the bouquets as decoration at the reception, you and your girls will know exactly where to find them at the end of the night, and they're much more likely to stay in good condition!

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The listing is live on the Etsy shop! As always, the flowers shown in the shop and on the blog are just examples of what we can do. If you have something in mind that you don't see here or in the shop, just ask! The possibilities with different color and flower combinations are endless!

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Paper Flowers for Teacher!

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_MG_1922A few weeks ago, one of my best friends emailed me about making some flowers to send with her daughter for "Bring Your Teacher a Flower Day." (Huh?? I know I'm dating myself by saying this, but I swear there is a Hallmark holiday for everything these days..) Laura mentioned that her daughter had 6 teachers that she needed flowers for, and one was a male so we needed one in a more masculine color. I love the idea of doing paper flowers for teachers! While the live flowers were probably beautiful on that day, I doubt they're still bright and cheery 3 weeks later! Laura picked out 6 colors for the roses, and I decided to surprise her and include some Thank You tags that were color coordinated so Hayley could write her name on each one.

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Teacher Appreciation Weeks & Days vary in different parts of the country, but most of them happen around this time of year. And one fact is constant wherever your children are in school: Teachers work SUPER hard, have a HUGE effect on their students' lives, and deserve appreciation YEAR ROUND!

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Hayley's teachers' flowers will still be in bloom when students arrive for school next September, and their desks will be graced with a reminder of how much Hayley and her family appreciate them.

Do you have a teacher you'd like to show your appreciation towards? Order yours today!

The Best Kind of Winter Blues: Roses and Calla Lily Bouquet

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_MG_1715 I'm not about to whine about the winter in St. Louis, don't worry. We cannot hold a candle (or a snow shovel?) to the winter they're having up where I'm from in Boston. But, most US cities have experienced some pretty frigid temperatures lately, and St. Louis is certainly among them. As I sit here bundled up inside with a solid winter head cold, it's a brisk "feels like" 8 degrees outside with occasional flurries, and temps are expected to drop to around zero overnight. Lovely.

Luckily, this time of year is what we in the biz like to call "crunch time". (The Breakup reference? Anyone?) Seriously, I'm BUSY. Like, I-forgot-to-brush-my-hair-today kind of busy. Which is amazing for so many reasons that deserve another post entirely. Being swamped with work in the depths of winter means I'm never at a loss for things to do while I'm stuck inside for hours at a time. And for me, that means opportunities to be creative every day, and more and more often it means stepping away from my computer screen to spend time working with my hands on my floral collection. I am so grateful to have made this huge change in my life a year ago--there is nothing like spending the day making a beautiful paper bouquet of flowers to fight off the winter blues.

Check out my most recent bouquet that shipped out this week. I love the color combination! I also did a matching boutonniere, but forgot to snap a pic before it shipped out. Carolyn's wedding isn't until the end of April, but her flowers are already delivered and ready to go!

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Need flowers for your wedding or your dining room table? Have you considered paper? Contact me to place your order!

The Anatomy of a Paper Rose

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When my sister got married in 2013, she made her bridal bouquets out of tiny, tightly wrapped burlap and crepe paper roses. I thought they were the coolest thing ever, and that's really what inspired me to do paper flowers for my own wedding. As soon as I got engaged (ok, maybe a little before then, lets be honest) I started going a little crazy on Pinterest, pinning my favorite real and paper bouquets for inspiration. In my searching, I discovered liagriffith.com, a blog with literally every template, printable and tutorial you can imagine (actually makes this blog post sort of pointless, but people keep asking me how I do it, so I'll keep going!) I started out using her templates and after some practice, made some tweaks and adjusted the pattern to make two sizes of roses. It used to take me 20 minutes to put together one rose; now I can do 10-12 an hour (depending on how intense the episode of SVU is that's playing in the background). Practice, practice, practice. I'd never have been able to incorporate this into my business making 1 rose every 20 minutes, and I certainly wouldn't have outfitted my whole wedding, all the while staying sane enough to keep my groom :).

1. Collect Your Materials

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  • The petals are cut from text-weight 8 1/2 x 11 paper in whatever color I want, from Paper Source. The paper is very important. It needs to be light enough to curl beautifully, but heavy enough to be nice and sturdy once the bouquet is assembled. Paper Source also has awesome colors.
  • The bamboo skewer is found at most grocery stores, and is very inexpensive. I buy mine at the most expensive grocery store in St Louis (it's right next to our favorite butcher counter, and I just grab them while I'm waiting), and a pack of 100 is still under $3. They come in many sizes, so the length you want just depends on how you're going to use the roses. For bridal bouquets and the arrangement in this post, I used 6 inch skewers. These skewers were something I added to the whole flower making process. Most tutorials instruct you to use floral wire, but I find that not only difficult to work with, but also very flimsy in the final bouquet. My bouquets are rock solid (you'll thank me on your wedding day when you don't have to adjust wires all day!).
  • The bone folder is made from bone and polished smooth. I have three different "bone" folders -- a plastic one that came with my Martha Stewart score board which I hardly ever use, a teflon-coated one that's great for scoring my Passport wedding invitations, and this genuine bone folder I use for petal curling. The genuine bone folder is by far the best one for flower making, and you will find all kinds of other uses for it.
  • The glue gun is a standard high-heat glue gun you can buy at any craft store. I recommend high-heat (even though you need to be careful and have tough fingers) because the low heat glue dries too fast for this process.

2. Prep the Petals.

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Once the petals are cut and ready to go, I curl each corner with the bone folder. I find it easiest to use the rounded end of the bone folder. Hold the inside of the petal and curl the paper away from you, like you're curling ribbon. I curl each corner so each petal makes a little triangle.

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Once the petals are curled, I put together the center of the rose. Using the single petals, I apply a squiggle of hit glue and wrap them around skewer one by one, layering them on top of each other and allowing the curled edges to splay out. *Make sure you use the end of the skewer without the point!*

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Now I glue the little tabs on the larger petals to themselves, creating little cones.

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3. Assembly

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Once the cones are put together, I finish assembling the flower. I put a small dot of glue on the bottom of the petals already on the skewer and poke the pointy end of the skewer through the center of each set of petals.

I stack them one under the next, alternating the petals so there are no gaps, until all petals are assembled.

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If you want a different look (or if you want to add dimension to a bouquet of these roses) you can switch up the way you glue the tabbed petals together. By just turning the petals upside down (so the petals curl in instead of out) you get a very different looking rose:

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You can choose to just alternate one layer of petals like this, or all of them. For the one shown above, the center is done with petals curled out, the next three layers are curled in, and the final layer is curled out. This is also a great place to use another color for a layer or two. Play around a little with it! What's your favorite?

For this bouquet, I used a mix of large and small roses, some curled in and some curled out, and I incorporated a second color in just a few petals. I love how it turned out!

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How about two dozen roses for your Valentine that won't wilt in a week? Use the code VAL15 for 15% off your floral order! Order yours today!