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Required Reading: The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti


Required Reading: The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers by Livia Cetti

April 9, 2014

Livia Cetti, a California girl at heart, has been playing with cut flowers for as long as she can remember. Her mother was a great enabler, tossing her a bundle of flowers when she was around 8 years old and telling her to play and let her imagination run wild. When Cetti finally moved to New York years later, she was delighted to find out that she could make a living as a floral stylist.

Cetti calls her business The Green Vase and is known for her natural, wild, and beautiful arrangements, with a unique gracefulness and color palette. A few years ago, she discovered the world of artificial flowers when she was asked to create a paper flower for an event, and the new craft took a hold of her. Cetti still makes fresh flower arrangements for clients but her heart is with the world of paper flowers, where she can play with and form interpretations of nature to her liking. 

This month, her charming book The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers, published by Abrams comes out and shares all of her secrets. It’s a thorough do-it-yourself guide to making paper flowers on your own. Cetti doesn’t see paper flowers replacing fresh. For her they’re another creative expression and a way to decorate your home with everlasting blooms. 

Photographs by Addie Juell, excerpted from The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers.

Above: What makes this craft intriguing for Cetti is all the ways she can manipulate the paper through bleaching and painting. Here she shows nine different versions of the same flower all created with the same salmon colored tissue paper.

Above: Not only is Cetti a lover of flowers, she’s also a gardener, and her time spent observing nature comes through in her work. She simplifies and stylizes the forms, but they retain their essential characteristics which can only come from someone who understands the flowers she is recreating.

Above: Cetti’s version of a camellia, a flower she loves to make, including its leaves and buds, which are so much the personality of this plant. 

Above: Summer dahlias were a flower form that had Cetti stumped for awhile because of their unique petal layering. After studying them in nature she came up with a way to simplify their form just enough to make it not too labor intensive. 

Above: According to Cetti, one of the easiest flowers to make is the poppy, seen here. As she shares in her book, she once made more than 200 for a state dinner at the White House. 

Above: Geraniums are a signature plant for Cetti. Here, the whimsical painted-leaf variety perfectly reflects the real thing. When Cetti discovers a plant that she loves, she will often create it in a potted version and is known for her hollyhocks, orchids, and muscari. 

The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers is available from Abrams Books for $24.95, as well as through Amazon and local booksellers.

For more Gardenista-recommended titles, see our archive of Required Reading posts.

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