Spring is obviously a prime time for flowers as they begin to bloom. But if you’re a paper flower artist like our April teafluencer, Laura Richey, flowers are blooming all year ‘round -- and, as she’ll happily point out, they never die. Read on to learn about Laura’s love of paper art, the role her art has played in people’s lives, her wild-side paper lips and even a special Harney creation!
Harney: Tell us a little about you. Where are you from, educational background, where you live, family, etc.
Laura: I was born in Lakefield, Ontario, Canada. My education is in Retail Marketing and Management. I currently live in London, Ontario, Canada. I am a mother of two boys ages 10 and 12 with only 15 months between them. My youngest son has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is the reason I am now a stay-at-home mother and entrepreneur.
Harney: How did you get started designing paper flowers?
Laura: I started making paper flowers about eight years ago. I was always a crafty person from when I was little. I loved to sew, draw, needlepoint, and then onto making cards and scrapbook pages of my babies. A little while after, I wanted to make my own flower embellishments. That's where the paper flower passion began. I did a friend's mother’s wedding and was hooked. I stopped making small flowers and dove into wedding and giant paper flowers for backdrops and even runway shows. In 2016, I was asked to design paper hairpieces and giant paper flowers for Fashion Week in New York City. I have been featured in several magazines and have been blessed for several years making forever flowers for weddings, gifts and window displays. I am truly blessed.
Harney: What kind of paper do you prefer working with?
Laura: Over the years, I have favored more of the cardstock paper. This paper comes in many different weights and textures, allowing me to be flexible in the size and style of my blooms. I did try and will continue to try crepe paper, but it doesn’t always love me back! I have a room full of cardstock in several weights -- that is my go-to paper.
Harney: You now have two paper art businesses, 2 CLVR Designs and Pucker Up Paper Lips. Let’s talk about 2 CLVR Designs first. Tell us how your business got started -- did you have just two clever designs? -- and what you specialize in.
Laura: 2 CLVR Designs was started eight years ago after my son was diagnosed with ASD. I had to leave my job and stay home with him to aid in his appointments. I have always loved flowers from my grandmother's garden and was inspired by nature to make them out of paper.
Once I made a few that I was proud of, I was hooked. Orders started to come in, and over the years I became fairly good at what I do and had upwards of 40-60 weddings a year. Once COVID hit, my weddings got canceled or postponed. With the kids being homeschool due to lockdown, I need to keep my hands and mind busy -- that's when I started working on paper lips. I could sit next to them during classroom time and cut and create. I made a few and posted them. I was pleasantly surprised at how much people loved them. I started to create more and more designs and then decided to launch my Etsy shop selling paper lips.
Harney: What do you find most fulfilling about creating paper flowers for people’s special occasions or to live in their homes or places of business?
Laura: What I find to be most fulfilling about making paper flowers for clients’ special occasions is that they will last forever. I have created paper flowers for photos, magazines, books and even from fabric that all mean something special to our clients. It's like making a one-of-a-kind flower that is all about them, and the best part is it doesn’t die.
Harney: Tell us about the process of creating your paper flowers. How collaborative is it?
Laura: Creating paper flowers is definity a process. I first look for photos of the flowers, pick the paper to best match the flowers and even the ink for shading. I use several different methods of cutting depending on how the flower looks… if it could be hand-cut or using an electric cutter and tools for sculpting.
Harney: What’s next for 2 CLVR Designs?
Laura: Honestly, I have a handful of weddings from pre-COVID I will be working on. I also do local window design, so they always keep me busy. I will continue to make flowers for my Paper Lips and for special occasions for clients. I will never stop making paper flowers, but may focus my direction differently than in the past.
Harney: Alright, let’s dive into Pucker Up Paper Lips! Just, wow! Where did this idea come from?
Laura: It's a fun story. I have always loved paper sculptures. My home is filled with them. I created lips for a fun addition to my collection. Then I started to look on Pinterest for lip art and was blown away at the creativity of them. I made a pair of lips and adorned them with pearls. I posted them and was contacted by Vlada Haggerty, lip artist queen. We got chatting, and I found out that I had made 1500 roses for her beauty product launch with Smashbox a few years ago. I wanted to create a few of her painted lips in paper, and that's where it took off. My creative juices were flowing, and I haven’t stopped since.
Harney: You’ve got SO many original, unique lip designs. (Tell us you’ve done one with the famous Rolling Stones lips/tongue logo!) Where do your designs come from?
Laura: I have not done the Rolling Stones iconic look yet. I wanted to master my lip design and expand on what I can do with it. It all stems to the original lip, and I have fun adding to it. May it be glitter paper, pearl paper, metallic paper, mirror paper, textured paper or even handmade paper. I love them all. I add on to them with fun embellishments such as flowers, tea cups, butterflies or even logos. Pinterest is an amazing place to look at for inspiration on lip art.
Harney: Your Pucker Up Paper Lips are large enough to hang on a wall, but you’ve recently come out with Mini Lip Boxes featuring lip products inside. How is that line doing, and what other ideas do you have up your creative sleeve?
Laura: It has always been a dream to own a store, and I am finally thinking like a shop owner and what I would want in my store. The lip boxes are just a fun way to give a gift and have a piece of art to display. The clothing line is coming along, and we will be expanding our reach to satisfy all of our clients from the sunny south to the cold Canadian winters. I hope to create lip purses this summer as well, but that hasn’t been confirmed…..lol!
Harney: Do you ever have real flowers in your house?
Laura: Yes, I do have a few, but only to study and take apart to recreate in paper. My husband will say “Your flowers last a lifetime and look so much better, so why do we need real ones?” I totally agree.
Harney: Any advice for aspiring paper artists?
Laura: Do what you love, make it magical and create from the heart.
Harney: Do you have a favorite client story or two to share? Something that caught you by surprise?
Laura: My clients surprise me all the time with their continuous love for what I do. I remember making flower boxes that said “Will you be my bridesmaids?” for the bride to ask her wedding party. Then she asked me to make all of her wedding. It was one of my favorite weddings to date. I even got to stay and watch her get married. A few years later, she asked me to make nursery decor for her upcoming little one. Of course, I was thrilled I even got to know that little one's name before anyone else would. She has since ordered items for her new home, friends and family gifts. I love how one flower connected us to this magical journey through her important milestones.
Harney: A little bird told us that your other great love, besides paper art, is tea! You’ve actually made some Harney tea-inspired art, right? What did you create?
Laura: Since being married to a wonderful British man, I have fallen in love with tea. The British are very much tea lovers and have taught me a lot of how to make the perfect cup. Yes, I have created a lovely pair of black matte lips with a glitter gold Harney logo on them. I wanted to add something a little 3D, so I made a cup out of paper and added one of the tea bags to it. It smells amazing with the loose-leaf tea in the cup. It will hang in my tea bar.
Harney: What role does tea play in your life? Do you have any rituals that involve tea?
Laura: I have a Teasmade that makes me the perfect cup of tea. It is set to go off first thing in the morning. I wake up to the chime of the tea being complete, and I know my day begins. I have to be honest, I drink a lot of tea in a day. [We don’t have a problem with that, Laura.] I have one before the kids wake up (me time) and then throughout my day. I find with the varieties of tea, I can really match how I am feeling, and what I need the tea to do for me.
Harney: Do you have any favorite flavors or types of Harney & Sons tea, or anything on your list you’ve been dying to try?
Laura: I am a sucker for English Breakfast tea. I have some iced teas I can’t wait to try, and all of the berry teas smell so amazing and taste divine. I have been told by another paper artist to try Dragon Pearl Jasmine, so that will be next on my order.
There’s so much of Laura’s beautiful, amazing and fun art to look at, we recommend you make a cuppa and sit down -- it could take a while. Be blown away by her work on her 2 CLVR Designs website, Facebook, Instagram andEtsy. Then have a blast looking at her Pucker Up Paper Lips on Instagram and her Etsy shop. We appreciate Laura taking time from making her art and being a full-time mom to share her life and work with us. All photography was provided by Laura.
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