Even through a screen on Zoom, Chantal Larocque’s world bursts with colour.
Vibrant blooms surround her – an exuberant palette of fuschia and white and yellow and green. When I ask what she loves about the art and craft of paper flowers, she turns to look at the array of creations over her shoulder.
“Just look at them, at that decor,” she says. “You cannot see that and not react. It’s happy, it’s colourful and it lasts forever.”
The New Brunswick artist behind Paper and Peony has spent more than a decade surrounded by these creations, each one crafted by hand out of paper, and dispatched all over the world. In that time, she has personally made hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of paper blooms and blossoms, some tiny, others two or three feet wide.
Her commissions have included fashioning 3,000 flowers for paper corsages for the Prix Gemeaux (awards for French television and film), making a raft of blooms to decorate the celebrity gift suite at the Golden Globes and creating couture flowers for a Dior display at Saks Fifth Avenue. She has an artist client in California for whom she makes thousands of white flowers every year, and has had her own paper flower art featured on a series of stamps for Canada Post.
“I think it’s unexpected,” Larocque says, about the appeal of paper flowers. “When you realize you just have little pieces of paper that you shape certain ways, and then you add glue, and then you have a 3-D flower. I mean, it blows my mind myself and I’ve been doing that for 10 years. People that see my work for the first time, they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, you did that with paper?’”
Larocque started making paper flowers more than 10 years ago, a journey that began with a scrapbook she created after her father died. After finishing the scrapbook she began making cards, and soon listed them for sale on Etsy, along with some of the tiny paper flowers she was making as embellishments for her cards.
The little flowers took off.
“I think I sold two cards, but overnight I sold hundreds of mini-kits of flowers all over the world,” she says. “It was crazy.”
Her creations grew in size after her husband – soon enlisted as an assistant in the burgeoning business – brought home a larger paper punch from the craft store. Larocque began experimenting with different sizes of blooms, and soon came up with her first design for a full size flower. She called it the Lady Flora.
Within minutes of posting the design, she had an order for 90, all in black, for a retirement party.
“It was amazing. It’s like the light bulb, you know the potential,” she says. “It just opened so many doors.”
From there, a new passion and a new business were born. The blooms – affordable, personal and highly Instagram-able – were a natural fit in the wedding industry, and soon Larocque was doing commissions for events around the globe, sometimes making thousands of paper flowers and accessories for a single wedding.
Artists, event planners and others also reached out, and in 2017 she published Bold & Beautiful Paper Flowers, sharing her designs and techniques to others wanting to learn the craft.
“People just so react so positively because it’s like, oh my goodness, they just can’t believe that in so many little steps, very easy little steps, they have a flower,” she says. “It’s an art that is accessible to everybody to enjoy and to make.”
Larocque will be our guest at the seventh Globe Craft Club, teaching us to make a multicoloured paper flower bouquet, entitled Fleurs on Canvas. The piece can be mounted on a small canvas, or on a decorated piece of cardboard.
Watch the livestream paper flowers class on April 13 at 7 p.m. ET on this page or on Facebook, and find links to all our previous Craft Club lessons at tgam.ca/craftclub. For the latest updates, join our Facebook group or sign up for our Parenting & Relationships newsletter.
Supplies for our Paper Flower Class
- A few pages of 65 lb. cardstock in colours of your choosing
- Glue gun and glue sticks, or white glue
- 6 x 6 inch canvas (can be oval or rectangular), or other display board
- Curling tools, such as chopsticks, knitting needles or wooden dowels.
- Print out the template on an 8.5 x 11-inch sheet – please enlarge it when printing to 200% so it fills the page – and cut petals as indicated.
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