Paper to Petal, a new craft book by husband and wife team Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell, comes out…TODAY! As beautiful as it is, it is also full of detailed user-friendly instructions, clear how-to photographs, and a forward by Martha! I am so excited about this gorgeous book and thrilled to share this interview with Rebecca where she talks about her process, her favorite sources, and more. (Scroll down to see their fun book trailer video below)
There is so much in there! Endless inspiration...just what you did to customize the craft paper in terms of hand painting/patterning/tinting before you even got to the flower-making. I'll never get tired of looking at this book. You and Patrick crafted, wrote and designed it yourself...did you sleep at all?
Thanks Jodi! No we didn’t sleep for a year! We loved every minute of it though, and thankfully our families spent lots of time with our daughter when we were at our most hectic during book deadlines. We did find a rhythm for shooting and working on the book, and we had an overall plan for ideas (we originally planned for 100 projects). We had an ever-evolving big wall in our studio with all of the top project ideas tacked up with bits of paper, inspiration thoughts, sketches, random paper treatment ideas, etc. I moved it around like a huge puzzle. It looked like a giant paper explosion but I knew what it all meant! We found that crafting a group of 5 or so, and then styling and shooting that group worked well for us. I love customizing paper as you mentioned, and hand-painting on crepe paper is one of my favorite techniques, and we use it all over the book! I am totally addicted to working with different types of crepe paper and paint. I just love the way the crepe paper grain/texture soaks up and bleeds paint, it really inspires me and I feel the possibilities are endless.
I love the spread where you show how you translated inspiration such as your daughter's outfit or a favorite handbag into a flower design. Was that sort of visual starting point inspiration for a lot of your ideas?
Yes it definitely was. I have made tons of classic “realistic” paper flowers based on vintage books and classic techniques, and while I love making them, I found that whenever I made flowers for gifts or work projects I felt inspired to craft based on something whimsical- influenced by reality. I find that thankfully the ideas flow easily for me when it comes to getting inspired by almost anything and then translating the concept into a paper flower. We wanted to share that idea in the book and wanted to be sure to encourage readers to go through the same process to create something unique and original for themselves. Since there is a fair amount of accessible information about crafting paper flowers based on real blooms, we loved the idea of taking the craft to a new place and encouraging crafters to think freely and get inspired by just about anything.
As a fellow crepe paper fan, I have been happy to see that crepe paper, especially special types like duplex and heavyweight, is more and more available. I used to hoard vintage crepe but now there is an amazing selection online. Have you found that? Do you think there is a renewed interest in crepe paper crafting, flowers in particular?
I still hoard it and love it, just as you do! I can’t help it, the colors and textures are not quite the same as what is produced today as you know. I have amassed a pretty big collection and love working with it. I have some pieces I adore so much I just can’t bare to cut into them. I almost fell over when Patrick surprised me with a beautiful paper flower trio for my 40th birthday using one of my all time favorite pieces of coral duplex crepe. He had no idea it was a favorite piece—he chose it for its amazing color and smooth texture! As you mention, yes, thankfully even in just the last 5 years there is so much more easily available online. We included our favorite crepe paper sources in the book including Castle in the Air, D. Blümchen, Carte Fini, Papermart and others. I do agree there is also a renewed interest in paper crafts and paper flower crafts, and there are a number of super talented crafters out there making such beautiful things right now, it is exciting. I think it is an easy craft to get hooked on once you try it, because it is rewarding, not too difficult, and the results can be so gratifying to display in your home, decorate for a party, or to give as gifts.
The styling and photography are as inspiring as the crafts...those painted backdrops! How do you and Patrick collaborate on the sets?
We collaborate on everything in one way or another and shoot and art direct together. With my styling background, I tend to develop the backdrops and styling in general and Patrick is more concerned with the technical aspects of what we are trying to do with light, but it just depends on a particular project. Patrick worked on some very cool photographic backdrops and made plank walls and I did a lot of hand painting, textile dying, etc. I made the mistake of making some painted backdrops I really loved and setting aside some super favorite props and held on to them to use for the perfect shot…and then by the end we couldn’t fit them in!
Also gorgeous is the design of your book. Did you and Patrick collaborate on that as well? Was there any division of labor?
Patrick created the graphic design and we collaborated on the creative direction and the general look and feel of what we wanted. We were pretty much in agreement on the overall feeling of design—which is totally rare for us! We knew we wanted it to be bold and graphic, and pretty clean, knowing that we would end up with a riot of color and texture in the photography. We wanted the design to feel considered, if not a bit austere, and let the images do the talking.
What are some of your other favorite things to make?
I go through different crafting stages, right now, other than flowers (which I am just loving and in no way burnt out on) I have been making a lot of small hand sewn wool felt vegetables for my daughter. It started with a wool felt rabbit I made during a parent-child play group with my daughter at a Waldorf school. I made some “snacks” for the bunny, like a radish and carrot, and then Poet kept requesting new fruits and vegetables. I find hand-sewing wool felt to be such a nice counter craft to working with paper. The softness of felt is great contrast for my hands.
Do you craft with your daughter?
Yes I do, and I love it. She is three, and now she is at a great age where we really do have a fun time making things together. When she turns to me and says “mommy I love making crafts with you”, I feel so excited that she enjoys the process of making things. We have had fun recently painting lots of wood peg people, trees, and ladybugs. As I am sure you know, Woodworks ltd. has bags of wooden peg people, and so many other shapes. It is a nice source because they are inexpensive and come in bulk bags, and I think kids really like to paint on wood as a surface. Some days Poet says “we can make a paper flower today” and I say yes yes yes!
Thank you Rebecca! And congratulations to you and Patrick!
To learn more about Thuss + Farrell visit their blog, Married to Craft.