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Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

Meet the Maker – Blooms By Beam

by Folksy

Meet Beam Irwin from Blooms By Beam

Beam Irwin turns paper into spectacular flowers that never wilt. Her paper wonders will outlive fresh flowers and are designed as graceful sculptures that will take pride of place in your home no matter the season. Here Beam talks to fellow Folksy maker Layla Amber about the thriving career as a prop maker and stylist she left behind when she moved to the UK from the Philippines, her making process and the inspiration behind her incredible paper flower creations.

Shop Blooms By Beam on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/bloomsbybeam

Treat yourself to 10% off with code SPRING10 until the end of March 2024

XXL Pink Paper Geranium Plant sculpture by Blooms By Beam

Hi Beam! Lovely to meet you. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your beautiful creations…

Hello, Layla! Lovely to meet the creative behind the incredible floral jewellery I have seen on Folksy. My name is Beam. I am a paper flower artist based in Manchester. My little studio is in one of the bedrooms in my home in Levenshulme. A craft desk and several cupboards for storage complete my humble work area. I feel lucky that outside my window is a bit of greenery and the occasional passing train, which is a welcome distraction after being laser-focused on a tiny flower.

I set up Blooms by Beam during the pandemic of 2020, the same year that I made the big move to the UK from the Philippines. It was during this isolation and being trapped at home with the most basic materials — paper, scissors and glue — that I started making paper flowers and selling them online. 

Paper snowdrop flowers in terracotta pots by Blooms By Beam

I now use specialty crepe paper that I then shape into graceful flowers and plants that will never wilt. Most of the petals and leaves I create will first have a wash of watercolour to give them an uneven depth and realism. Sometimes, I will seek help from Mother Nature herself to sun bleach my crepe paper rolls to remove the artificial pigment. I then cut and shape the petals and leaves by hand.

Some pieces may require more detailing like the bell-shaped flowers of the foxgloves or the richly patterned leaves of the geranium. To achieve that, I make use of richly pigmented Japanese coloured pencils, felt tips pens or even the humble crayons, which lends a lovely waxy effect.

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

I see that you used to be a props/interior/events stylist. Is that how you got into making paper flowers?

I actually feel that the paper flowers and crafts in general came first, then the styling. I have been making and creating ever since I was young.

When I started my career as a stylist, it became my sort of signature to create extraordinary sets from scratch. A client would request something like a larger-than-life lotus that a model could sit in, and instead of being petrified about how to begin I’d be brimming with ideas!

It was when I moved here to the UK that I started focusing on making paper flowers. I guess it stemmed from my curiosity about all the new flora I was discovering – plants that don’t grow in a tropical climate. I started painting flowers as well as birds using gouache and watercolour. Then I explored creating them into 3D sculptures using craft materials I already had on hand.

Crepe paper foxgloves in terracotta pots by Blooms by Beam

Your creations are so intricate and detailed, they must take you so long to make. Do you work on one piece at a time or have a few on the go at the same time?

Thank you! It does take a few days to create one piece. However, I find that creating big batches of cut petals and leaves help streamline my process. Then, I create a batch of flower clusters, several sets of coloured leaves, stems, buds and so on. When I get an order, I then assemble them together to create the completed plant.

Having to create petals in one sitting that would be good for 4-5 flowers is such a repetitive task but one that I find so therapeutic. That’s why I love making these intricate plants — the tedious process gives me focus and therefore peace. And yet when I start seeing it all come together, it’s the most exhilarating feeling! Oh, and even more when lovely customers are delighted when they receive the paper flowers from me!

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

What are your favourite art materials to use?

I have always considered paper, whether it is an Italian crepe paper or even a humble brown paper bag, as my favourite art material. I love that it is a medium you can find in any household, classroom or studio and yet it can be transformed into the most impressive objet d’art. One of my favourite framed artwork in my home is a paper collage that I made when I was nine that my mum has luckily kept. It is a lovely reminder of how much I enjoyed playing with paper at a young age and how, even until now, it is giving me so much joy and purpose.

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

What has been your most challenging make so far?

As a maker/stylist I have been asked to create a myriad of challenging creations! The two-metre diorama for My Vitamins required the most patience – even breathing into our miniature set would make little props move! Yet I think my most daunting one was a massive four-feet wide and six-feet long hanging velvet ribbon for a Tory Burch shop window display. Finding the right material, solving the problem of hanging it from a high ceiling and all the while keeping it a finely-made, perfect bow made it the biggest challenge for me so far. 

Apart from my clients, I also like to give myself that occasional impossible task to sharpen my skills. I like to challenge myself with bigger plants like my mammoth paper geranium. Measuring almost a meter tall, this is a statement piece that I would definitely like to keep making more of!

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures crocus

I’d love to hear about your inspiration and design process. How do you choose what to make? 

I do a lot of research about my target market’s interests before starting on a new flower. Having lived in a tropical country for most of my life, the usual favourites I had grown accustomed to are totally different to what it is in this other side of the world. I had several collections that didn’t sell at all, mainly because I would simply do a quick Google search on “UK’s most loved flower”. There was one time I experimented in offering velvet pumpkins, and they sold so well that I had to rethink if it was even apt to keep the name Blooms by Beam! I have had countless trial and errors over the years before finding products that hit the right spot. 

The Paper Geranium came about from zoning in on who my target market really is. I keep telling myself that I can’t please every single person in the world who loves flowers, so I created this imaginary person who embodies the demographic I was after. I started to follow a lot of English cottage interior accounts on social media and studied how they decorate their homes. I knew they loved botanicals in general but I discovered that one of the most common indoor plant that most of these accounts have is a scraggly but sculptural geranium trying to reach for the sun. I figured, if I give them a forever flowering plant that they can keep even in a dark part of their lovely homes, maybe it solves their dilemma? And mine as well?

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

My little studio is in one of the bedrooms in my home in Levenshulme, Manchester. A craft desk and several cupboards for storage complete my humble work area.

Beam Irwin, Blooms By Beam

What is your favourite flower and why?

I love mimosas! They look like sparkling little fireworks bursting with the most cheerful yellow. They look fantastic fresh but equally stunning when dried. I find the scent so sophisticatedly sweet as well. I can’t yet imagine though how I could replicate the tiny yellow pompoms in paper flower form. This challenge and mystery is probably why I find mimosas irresistible as well.

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

What does your perfect non-work day look like? Do you have any hobbies?

Whenever I allow myself a luxurious day-off, you will instantly find me in my garden. I grow (surprise, surprise) flowers, and also, fruits and vegetables. Even if it’s a non-work activity, I can’t help myself studying leaf and flower shapes and how the stems bend. Mother Nature has so many tips and tricks, which I find is the greatest inspiration!

I also love doing DIYs around the house because I know that it will serve as nice photo opportunities for my paper flowers as well. The modern and roughly plastered mantelpiece in most of my product photos is a project I did last summer for our dining room. My next project is to panel the walls so that I can have a stately background the next time I take a maker’s photo! 

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures

Is there any advice you would give to someone making a big move, or starting their own creative business like you did?

To answer this question, I think a little background story is necessary. I moved to the UK several years ago and had to restart my career as a result. I had a thriving creative business and a styling career in the Philippines, which many would think silly to let go of. However, I felt that I needed a new challenge.

It was three months after my move that I found myself selling again online. I was following the “Ready, Fire, Aim” method which I talk in detail about in this Youtube video: https://youtu.be/BM3yGo2PAdY?si=Ylb2oWgmSMSuSTk8

Paper Camellia plant by Blooms By Beam

If you have that fiery creative idea that you absolutely believe in, then make it happen. Just take that step forward, no matter how tiny that baby step is. It will be far better than not doing anything at all as a result of over-analysing things.

Once you get the ball rolling, you will inevitably hit some obstacles along the way. Even with that, be grateful! Challenges are the perfect opportunities to fine tune your plans and direction… but this time, you will have relevant experience and invaluable wisdom from simply making those first few steps. And before you know, you are actually doing it. You are a creative entrepreneur pursuing the things that your past self can only dream of. When that happens, you’ll realise that the big leap is the scariest step and you are actually a natural at this business thing!

Blooms By Beam paper crocus flowers sculptures

What does craft mean to you?

Craft is my form of meditation and even to some extent, my form of prayer. I am not religious at all but I do respect and believe that there is a Higher Being. Through this paper flower crafting that I do, I hope I bring reverence and praise to The One who gives us all these natural beauty.

Blooms By Beam paper flower sculptures discount offer

Shop Blooms By Beam on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/bloomsbybeam

10% off with code SPRING10 until the end of March 2024

Layla Amber jewellery designer and maker Suffolk

Meet the interviewer

The maker asking the questions this month is Layla Amber, a jewellery designer based in Suffolk who creates hand-painted wooden jewellery inspired by the changing seasons.

Shop Layla Amber on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/laylaamberhandpaintedjewellery

Read more about Layla in her Meet the Maker interview – Meet the Maker – Layla Amber

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