Susan Beech: the florist who turns paper into flowers

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Meet Susan Beech, the Brighton-based paper artist behind A Petal Unfolds. Susan makes pretty things for a living – the most stunning flowers shaped out of crepe paper in a whole spectrum of colours. She uses vintage craft techniques to produce creations as wide ranging as single stem flowers to elaborate bunches of flora. Here’s what she had to say about her paper flower obsession and her latest workshops held in collaboration with Quill London.

A Day in the Life of Susan Beech

Where do you live?

Brighton, England. It’s a very creative city and its one of the main reasons I live here. It’s great to be in a place where you can meet other artists and take advantage of events, workshops and exhibitions. I also love the independent shops and cinemas. I feel very lucky to be living here.

How did you get into paper flower making?

I originally did a printmaking degree and had been spending time working digitally with landscape photography. A couple of years ago I started feeling that I wanted to make things with my hands again. I tried different crafts like sewing (that didn’t work out!), then read an article about paper flowers and was instantly drawn to them. I took an online class with the blogger House That Lars Built and then bought a vintage book on eBay and taught myself more techniques. It went from there.

Where do you get your day-to-day inspiration?

I see Instagram as a great source of inspiration because so many people on there spend time styling with flowers. I often see a flower on my feed, take a screenshot and go back to it later. My open peony flower was inspired by a beautiful image on @designseeds’ feed. I’m a big fan of the artist Philippa Stanton. I was very lucky to have attended one of her workshops earlier this year. I love the unique views of her life and work that she brings to Instagram.

I also try to seek inspiration away from my field so that I can try to bring new things to my paper flowers. I often spend time looking at fashion and photography blogs. I find the work of artist Sarah Illenberger very inspiring.

What’s the most elaborate creation you’ve made?

My hand painted ranunculus is the most elaborate flower I’ve made. I cut each of the petals then painted the edges with watercolour. Once they dried, it took about 2-3 hours to assemble each flower.

Handpainted ranunculus - A petal unfolds

What do you think people get out of attending your workshops?

I hope people come to the workshop and enjoy a lovely couple of hours learning something a little different and meeting new people. It’s great to see students feeling proud of what they’ve made at the end of the class and even nicer to hear people say that they would like to make more at home. By the end of the workshop everyone will have learnt some of the basics of paper flower making.

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few … 

Supplies that help me to make flowers. That can be crepe paper that I pick up on eBay, or wire that I find in my local supermarket and can use to make stems. I also love to collect vases, jars and bottles to place my flowers in.

Paper flowers

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection? 

It has to be my favourite shades of crepe paper that have either been discontinued (sob!) or are really difficult to get hold. I have to use them carefully.

Your three desert island must-haves?

Camera. Chocolate. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which is a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Get started on whatever it is you want to do and don’t wait. Just start!

Urban Favourites

Top three foodie spots in Brighton …

Treacle & Co in Hove for the most gorgeous cakes. The New Club on Brighton’s seafront for great burgers and alcoholic milkshakes. Gelato Gusto in Brighton’s North Laine for amazing ice cream.

Best place for fresh produce?

Hove Farmers Market

Best nook for daydreaming?

The Pavilion Gardens, Brighton

Paper Flower Workshop

Interested in trying your hand at making your own paper flowers? Read Susan’s tips for perfecting the art, or find out how we went when we joined in on a recent workshop.

A Petal Unfolds, Brighton

Find them on Facebook – Instagram – Twitter

Photos by Susan Beech

What paper crafts are you involved in? Tell us about your paper-based pursuits in the comments below, and be sure to tag @khoollect in your pics.


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