The Best Thing You Could Do

“In our world, being an artist was the best thing you could do. That was my parents’ version of me being a dentist or a doctor or a lawyer.”

—Livia Cetti, in an interview with Martha Stewart Living

 

A new visitor to Abrams might be struck by the number of paper flowers in the office—cherry blossom branches are tucked into odd corners, and roses sit in pencil cups alongside prints by Robert Indiana and Fletcher Martin.

These were taught to us by Livia Cetti, whose first paper flower book was published here in 2014, and whose second—brighter, bolder—title is released this week. Livia describes The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations as “more me”—a quote she delivered along with a box of hand-dipped tissue paper and a bagful of clipped wire in the midst of an early-March snowstorm.

If that is the case, we are grateful for it! The startlingly realistic blooms are photographed by Kate Mathis against vibrant (near-neon) paint-spattered backdrops created by Livia herself, with the result that the book is as visually energizing as it is informative.

After a chapter on the deceptively simple dipping, cutting, and wrapping techniques that form the basis for each bloom (the most complicated items on a spread of tools are a hot glue gun and Fiskars zigzag scissors), readers learn step-by-step methods for 26 different flowers—from the globe-shaped Eden Rose and Hydrangea, to the arcs of Honeysuckle and Lily of the Valley, bells like Crocus and Narcissus, saucers, and even spikes: Delphinium, Lupine.

Eden Rose by Livia Cetti, photograph by Kate Mathis

Eden Rose by Livia Cetti, photograph by Kate Mathis

From there it’s on to a dizzyingly beautiful “Part 2” filled with decorative projects: garlands, wreaths, a Blooming Chandelier, and even a Dutch Still-Life Centerpiece.

Cetti credits her success as floral designer to her time spent observing nature over a childhood in the mountains outside of Santa Barbara, and now in her own yard in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood. It’s a causal sequence that perhaps only sounds startling to city dwellers—we recognize her work from magazines and John Derian shops, ad campaigns for Burt’s Bees, or luxurious displays at Tiffany and Co. and the French ceramics boutique Astier de Villatte. But Cetti’s familiarity with her muses shines through on every page.

Author, floral stylist, and paper flower artist Livia Cetti 

Author, floral stylist, and paper flower artist Livia Cetti 

Pore over a sample of The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations below, or try your hand at two of the simplest projects here, or at The House that Lars Built.

We are also giving away several of her paper flower kits on Instagram! Until Friday, April 7 try The House that Lars Built, and check back over the next few weeks with Paper Trail and Flax and Twine

 

 

Two Projects for Easy Spring Maintenance

Spring may be the "time of plans and projects" but these slightly milder days demand more time in the sun when we can find it! Today’s crop of craft titles yields a pair of easy ways to keep two things in good working order: your wooden spoons and your relationships. Who can do without those?

Max Bainbridge graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design before setting up Forest + Found with his partner, quilter Abigail Booth. Based out of a workshop in his East London garden, Max works with sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood to hand carve and turn bespoke kitchen and homeware.

Max’s book, Heirloom Wood, is a beautifully photographed and clearly written guide to sourcing your own wood, setting up a basic toolbox, and then creating your own hand-carved bowls, cutting boards, spoons, spatulas, and more. He uses his own recipe for beeswax salve on every piece, to bring out the “natural color and patina of the grain.”

We recommend it even if you haven’t carved a thing—woodenware treated this way is not only protected against moisture, it stays usable, washable, and completely food-safe.

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in  Heirloom Wood .

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in Heirloom Wood.

Beeswax Salve

Excerpted from Heirloom Wood

This recipe will give you a large mason jar of salve, which should last you a good amount of time.

Tools and materials:

1 quart (1 liter) pure mineral oil

18 ounces (500g) pure beeswax pellets

large saucepan

heat source

mason jar

kitchen towel

1. Sterilize the mason jar using boiling water, or put it through a dishwasher cycle. Start by measuring out 18 ounces (500g) of beeswax pellets and 1 quart (1 liter) of mineral oil. The basic ratio is two parts mineral oil to one part beeswax. 

2. Pour the oil into a large saucepan and set the heat to its lowest setting. Add the beeswax and heat gently until the pellets start to dissolve. Stir very gently to ensure the two ingredients have combined thoroughly. As soon as the mixture is clear, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. Let the beeswax and oil cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour the mixture into the mason jar. Be careful in case the liquid is still hot.

4. Set aside and leave the lid open. Place a kitchen towel over the jar to ensure nothing drops in. Allow the salve to cure overnight and, once it is completely cool, it will set and turn cloudy. It is then ready to use.

5. Use a lid with a rubber gasket to seal the jar, and store in a cool, dark place.

Salve from Heirloom Wood

A long way away across the equator, Australian-Lithuanian photographer and designer Ebony Bizys had worked at Vogue magazines for 11 years before realizing, in 2010, that she felt most alive on her vacations to Japan, and making the move permanent.

Ebony Bizys

Since moving to Tokyo, Ebony has art directed books, hosted solo exhibitions, designed a Japanese fashion website, been commissioned by Vogue Japan to make artworks for their publication, collaborated with Japanese masking tape brand mt, and on a fashion line with Romance was Born, styled for various magazines, trend reported for various companies and written for magazines including Vogue, British Airways, Inside Out, Real Living and Frankie. She chronicles her daily life in Tokyo at her blog Hello Sandwich.

Ebony describes the book Hello Tokyo as “a hard copy of the blog, with stories about living in Tokyo, projects to create a cute Tokyo-inspired lifestyle, and pages on collaborations and past projects.” We love her tips on picnics and party decorations, but most importantly, the entire chapter on correspondence!

Ebony recommends making your own envelopes as “a fun and simple way to set the mood for when the recipient opens their mailbox to find this handmade surprise. Plus, you’ll never have to spend money on envelopes again!”

 

Envelopes from Hello Tokyo

 

7 Ideas for Handmade Envelopes

Excerpted from Hello Tokyo

Fabric-covered envelopes

Idea 1: Fabric-covered envelopes 

Cover paper with pretty fabric before folding to make an unexpected envelope. Use spray adhesive to stick fabric to the envelope base, then use craft bond glue to hold the flaps in place. Line the envelope with tracing paper or patterned waxed paper.

Mini envelopes

Idea 2: Mini envelopes 

These come in handy when you need to give someone something teeny, such as money or tickets. It’s also a great way to use up small pieces of cute paper. Adding a mock stamp is a fun way to play with scale, don’t you think?

Window envelopes

Idea 3: Window envelopes 

Here’s an envelope that lets you sneak a peek: Cut out a window shape with scissors or a craft knife. I also like to use a Martha Stewart Crafts All Over The Page Punch. Apply transparent paper to the back of the window using glue tape around the edges.

IMG_4746_RET.jpg

Idea 4: Envelope templates 

I like to keep a stash of envelope templates on hand; however, if you don’t have an envelope template, you can easily make one from an existing envelope. Gently open up the glued edges, being careful not to damage the paper. Et voilà, your very own envelope template! Trace this opened-out envelope onto card stock to create a template built to last the crafter’s mile!

Hand-painted envelopes

Idea 5: Hand-painted envelopes 

Have you ever finished painting and been left with excess paint on your palette? If I find myself in this situation I like to paint pieces of paper in simple patterns, such as stripes, dots, or freestyle designs, to create decorative paper that can be used later for various craft purposes, such as original handmade envelopes.

Eyelet circle-closure envelopes

Idea 6: Eyelet circle-closure envelopes 

Use an eyelet punch and a circle of cardboard to create a unique closure for your envelope.

Transparent envelopes

Idea 7: Transparent envelopes 

Experiment with various transparent papers such as kitchen waxed paper, tracing paper, tissue paper, and translucent contact paper (with the sticky sides sealed together). If the paper is slightly creased, I like to scrunch it and smooth it out two or three times to enhance the textured effect. Use POSCA pens or other markers to add color. Some waxed papers can be pesky with glue, so craft bond glue might be your best bet. Colorful washi tape along the joins can add security and a nice design effect.

Both Hello Tokyo and Heirloom Wood are on shelves today! Take a peek at the books below.

Novel Living is coming to a bookshelf near you

As a book publisher, naturally we are always thinking about the physicality of books: how they look, feel, and smell; how they fit into our lives (both literally and figuratively); how they can transcend physical form to shape our very reality.

In our latest release, Novel Living, Lisa Occhipinti celebrates physical books and the many ways they enrich our lives, especially in this digital era. She shares her unique ideas for collecting and displaying them, for conserving and preserving them, and for crafting with them. 

Feeling intrigued? Check out the cover. That DIY wallpaper in the photo features library pockets. Cool, right?

Here's a standard wooden ladder transformed into modern bookshelving.

 This is a Book Sling Lisa uses in her guest room and chooses the books to hang on it according to her guest's interests.

And these beautiful Page Poufs are an artistic statement composed of book pages.

Want to see more? Check out our Novel Living image gallery, the gallery for Lisa's first book The Repurposed Library, plus these "Five Genius Decor Ideas" from Novel Living that were featured in the Huffington Post last week.

Today's Bloom: The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers

Though it's a rainy Tuesday here in New York, a little burst of spring has arrived, with Livia Cetti's The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers: A Guide to Making Unbelievably Realistic Paper Blooms, in stores today!

 

 

The country’s premiere paper-flower artist, author Livia Cetti is known for her high-style, gorgeous tissue and crepe-paper flowers—which are often mistaken for real flowers.

 

In The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers, for the first time Cetti shares her techniques for hand crafting popular blooms, including peonies, poppies, roses, and hibiscus, and for combining them to create garlands, centerpieces, wreaths, corsages, and boutonnieres.

 

 

Whether your goal is to decorate for a spring wedding or shower, celebrate a birthday or graduation, or just add a bit of color to your home, you'll find endless inspiration in the pages of this step-by-step guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View our image gallery for more stunning photos from this book, plus a cherry blossom tutorial from a recent issue of InStyle! We know what we'll be doing on this rainy afternoon....