In the Craftsroom


This month, Mark shows you how to make paper camellias and ribbon roses.

Paper Camellias

Paper. We have used it in some form or another for most of our lives. Early on, it was placed in our hands as a way to communicate our thoughts and feelings. We learned to scribble on it with our chubby, uncoordinated hands as an infant. We drew colorful masterpieces on it with crayons as a child. And as we matured and became students, we used it to diligently and carefully answer our homework questions. Or, at least, most of us did when our dog wasnít eating it! How many times have we been asked to put on paper everything from a recipe, to a phone number, to the answers we werenít sure of on the day our teacher surprised us with a pop quiz? We have folded it, cut it, bound it, drawn on it, wrapped in it and even glued it to our walls. It has saved us, on many festive occasions, in the form of plates and napkins, when we were in a pinch and didnít want to use the ďgood china.Ē

There is no doubt that paper has many uses. It would be hard to exist without it but have you ever made a beautiful flower out of it? During these months filled to the brim with Valentine gifts and flowering blossoms, let me show you how to create your own everlasting paper camellia.

I have always been fascinated with camellias, the beautiful and wonderful Southern flowers in various shades of white, pink and red. My love of them may stem from the fact that when most everything else is dormant and lifeless, these beauties burst forth with such brilliance and grace they command your attention. They have been placed on the earth to bloom at just the right time to brighten our lives during the cold and dreary winter months. How dull our winters would be without them!

Let me share with you how I first learned to construct a paper camellia. No, I didnít go to the Orient on an exchange program. I learned right here in Middle Georgia. I saw in the paper where Donna and Bill Shepherd from Charleston, South Carolina would be at the American Camellia Society Headquarters teaching how to make paper camellias. Massee Lane, as it is referred to, is located between Fort Valley and Marshallville and is truly an amazing place. If you have never gone for a visit, you must. You will not be disappointed. We are very fortunate to have such a place right here at our disposal. You can see every variety of camellia known to man and learn how to grow your own.

It was the mid-eighties and I, than a much younger artist, decided to go take the course. Now let me tell you a little secret about myself. I have a very short attention span! I didnít realize this until I became older. I always have fun creating the first thing, but then the fun diminishes before you can say, glue gun! I came to this realization when I was painting eight dining room chairs for a client. I had the time of my life on the first one and was in tears by the eighth. I decided that I had to trick myself into doing multiples.

I now paint one thing on each of the chairs and continue until they all end up finished at the same time. Sort of like an assembly line. You will NEVER see me working on an automobile assembly line. I just could not do it! After a day of putting on bumpers, I would go insane! I would have to ask them to please let me put steering wheels on for a while. I chose to look at this as a sign of creativity in order to accept it. Whatever it takes, you know!

I headed down the road all prepared to learn. I walked into a room with several tables filled with older women. They looked at me as if to ask, ďWhat are YOU doing here?Ē A little intimidated, I found the only seat left. The class was supposed to take all day. I could not imagine what we were going to do the WHOLE day. I figured in that time we could plant some real camellias and watch them bloom. The teachers were very laid back and began to show us what to do. This is when the fun began.

I forgot to tell you that along with having Attention Deficit Disorder, I am also a little hyperactive and impatient. Other creative characteristics, I presume! I wanted my flower yesterday, and intended to make it lickety-split. The other ladies were nervous and attentive as they watched the teachers take ten minutes for each petal. Bored with this process, I did what I have always done in this situation. I jumped ahead! I know. Teachers hate it when students do that. I didnít know how much until I stated teaching. Iím sure that everything that I have done to my teachers is coming home to haunt me now.

Beady eyes and strange stares were being fired in my direction like bullets from a gun. The already nervous group of ladies was shaking because I had almost finished my flower. Finally, the lady to my left had as much as she could stand and TOLD on me! She pointed to my flower and told the teacher that I had jumped ahead, giving me a glare mixed with a little smirk. I was embarrassed as every eye looked in my direction with disgust. I tried to quickly hide my flower as I smiled back at the lady beside me. I was thinking to myself that she probably should have hidden hers.

That is how it all began. By the way, I left before lunch with two things - my beautiful camellia and a splitting headache. I went home and over the next few days developed what I feel is a quick and simple way to create these wonderful copies. I have since held many classes all over this area teaching this art. All of my students have done well. Iím sure that you can do the same if you follow these simple steps. One note: If you have trouble finding the onionskin paper (it is the computer age after all!) use a fine resume paper that is available at office supply stores. It is a little thicker but works well.

Can you tell which are real and which are made from paper? The answer is at the bottom of the instructions!

Answer: The camellias on the left (shown in a head vase hanging on my front door) were picked from camellia bushes in our garden! The camellias on the right (shown in a shadow box that hangs in our living room) are made from paper. I hate to admit this but I made these in 1987 making them 20 years old!

Ribbon Roses