Every spring, the de Young Museum in San Francisco hosts “Bouquets to Art,” a week-long exhibition where floral designers from around the world use fresh flowers and foliage to reinterpret the museum’s signature pieces.
I recently helped plan the decorations for Heather’s South Bay baby shower and, while brainstorming ideas, I remembered this amazing exhibit. I thought it would be cool to reinterpret Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss using paper flowers. That project is still a work in progress but, as a result of that goal, I took up paper-flower making (with the help of the book Making Paper Flowers by Laurie Cinotto — a book that, for some reason, only seems to be available at Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores).
Laurie’s book included a whole section on crepe paper, where I learned that not all crepe papers are created equal. I also learned that one of the few U.S.-based purveyors of high-quality German crepe paper was right under my very nose!
Castle in the Air is “a studio for the imagination” that’s located in Berkeley’s 4th Street district. The small shop is overflowing with specialty stationary, supple leather journals, gorgeous lino prints, and whimsical displays like 19th-century marionettes and papier-mâché mannequins. Upstairs, there’s a small gallery and a backroom workshop for classes. The merchandise isn’t cheap — but, for the most part, the products also aren’t things you’d be able to find at your run-of-the-mill Michaels or Jo-Ann. The store has a quirky sensibility and an extremely well curated selection of craft supplies; after I walked in, I immediately sensed that a lot of thought and heart went into planning the shop.
After making flowers with the kind of crepe paper you can find at party stores, I decided to test the waters with the German stuff. I visited Castle in the Air one Sunday to check out their selection of heavyweight crepe paper. The colors available were a lot more muted and nuanced than what I’d been working with (e.g., “pineapple” and “coral” vs. “yellow” and “pink”), and I could definitely feel the difference in texture and quality. As I spoke to the proprietress about colors, she offered to take me to her (amazing!) back room so that I could see the full selection.
Earlier on, I’d already visited the upstairs gallery and had been blown away by the exhibit. So when the owner took me to the back room to show me the rows and rows of gorgeous paper stacked up all the way to the ceiling, I felt lucky to get a backstage pass to the inner workings of such an awesome local shop.
The image below is a picture of a photo that was in the newspaper that was in the gallery. (Phew!) Berkeley artist and self-proclaimed vegan taxidermist Aimée Baldwin uses the German crepe paper to meticulously handcraft life-sized birds:
Some of Aimée’s fine-feathered friends in the upstairs gallery:
Anyway, back to the baby shower. The party’s hostess said the party’s theme colors were coral and aqua. (The baby’s nursery is based on Heather’s Anthropologie vase, which Jirat also happened to own and let me borrow as inspiration for the party decorations.)
I made these felt mums for Ingo’s bridal shower last year, and the bunting was made using the process outlined here.
Here are flowers made out of thin crepe paper. The material is easy to work with, has a lovely translucence, and is quite inexpensive.
These blooms are made with the heavyweight German crepe paper. The material is stretchier and more durable.
These flowers are made with supplies that came in the B&N kit. I definitely recommend the book for anyone who wants to make their foray into flower making!