Creating perfect petals with paper
As interior trends go, fake flowers have one of the worst reputations, up there with waterbeds and shag-carpeted bathrooms. For many, the very notion conjures images of cheap, tacky bunches of plastic roses and peonies gathering dust in a guest room or a bucket in a pound shop. But faux flora have enjoyed a makeover in recent years, as indoor gardening boomed and home owners sought to fill their space with Instagrammable plants, flowers and foliage.
Those who do not have a green thumb – or the budget to afford weekly replenishments of fresh flowers – have turned to the new breed of artificial blooms, which range from the amazingly lifelike and naturalistic to the more stylised and decorative. And in lockdown, the craze for DIY helped to revive the 1970s pastime of creating paper flowers, a retro project embraced by families and fashionistas alike.
When the pandemic hit, Olga Voronich was on maternity leave from her job as a beauty therapist in Galway city. At home with her new baby, she was eager to take on a crafting challenge, and like many restless quarantiners fed up of staring at the same four walls, Olga set her sights on revamping her interiors.
"I decided to decorate my walls, but I didn’t know what to make," she recalls. "So I went to YouTube to see some ideas, and I came out with the paper flowers. It wasn’t easy to make them, but after many hours of practice, the flowers became beautiful."
The result is a series of large, intricate blooms in shades of soft pinks, purples, peaches and creams. And by the time Olga completed the pieces for her walls, she realised she had a real talent for it. "It became like a hobby, and I loved it," she explains. "It was quite easy for me, so I decided to move on, because I wanted more, and bigger flowers."
Olga was soon making paper flowers in all sizes and colours, and she began sharing them on Instagram. She quickly graduated to more complicated pieces, following online courses by popular Russian creators – Olga is from Belarus, and moved to Ireland in 2001 – and experimenting with different materials, including foam sheets, which don’t have the cheesy plastic sheen of the more traditional fake flowers, so will deliver a more artistic finish.
She says it takes her about six hours to put a single piece together, from cutting out the petals to curving them using a heat gun and assembling the whole thing with glue. Unlike paper, foam flowers are more durable, Olga explains, because the material is resistant to water and mould.
One of her most striking creations is a headpiece shaped like a budding rose, pictured on today’s cover, rendered in paper, which she made for a shoot with photographer Julia Dunin over the summer. Olga later wore it for this year’s virtual edition of the Galway Races hat competition, though she says future pieces will be made with foam rather than paper. "That way, people […]