Flowers Are Forever

It’s truly incredible what artists can achieve with paper. From Rob Ryan’s intricate laser cuts to Su Blackwell’s works of art made from pages in a book, there’s no end of delightful yet delicate creations. Now Frances and Francis, a creative company that makes illustrated paper goods, has joined the paper posse with a floristry of paper petals.

I do love flowers in the summer time. Every garden is filled with beautiful blooms. The scent of real flowers is better than any perfume you’ll find on the beauty counter at a department store. There is one drawback to real flowers. Actually there are two. One is you always risk pricking your finger if the flower has thorns. This happened to me one Valentine’s Day. I was wearing a white dress. The second snag is real flowers die. It’s very sad. So sad in fact that some people opt out of buying fresh and opt for fake.

I must admit I’ve never had a penchant for plastic petals. There’s a plant sitting on my desk which was left by a previous occupant. It’s a pot with three stalks of orchids in full bloom. I know this plant is fake because a) I’ve never been able to keep an orchid thriving for four days let alone the four months I’ve had to share a desk with this one, and b) the plastic has attracted so much dust that it would require a whole can of Mr Sheen to clean it. Another two months and the spiders will move in to build their webs between the stems.

However, the recent pop-up paper shop by Frances and Francis at The Oak Studio in Hampstead shows just how pretty paper posies can be. Helen’s colour palettes are daring but perfectly pleasing. Not everyone would pair a vibrant violet shade with an intense pink. But somehow the look works and it’s become Frances and Francis’s most popular sale. Subtler shades of creams and neutrals are also available which allows the sculpture to do the talking rather than the colour.

The pop-up paper florist shop was initially only open for six days but The Oak Studio extended the stay for a couple of extra days as it proved to be exceptionally popular. The idea of the pop-up shop was for shoppers to buy a range of pieces from the collection, be it a single stem or a bouquet. Customers were encouraged to mix and match to curate their own bunch of flowers. Helen shows that flowers not only can be forever but they can be for everything. In the past, Helen’s flowers have been ideal pieces for weddings as the petals won’t wilt. Helen has also received commissions to make everything from table decorations to festival floral headbands. Some flowers come with a tag with hand written messages including:  ‘love always’, ‘just because’ and ‘you’re lovely’. I might just have to buy a ‘just because’ to put in my milk-bottle-shaped vase.

Frances and Francis is a small design studio based in St Albans run by Helen, an illustrator and paper artist. Helen set the studio up just under a year ago. The title of the design studio is as charming as the work it produces. The name of the creative company combines Helen’s surname, Frances, and Francis after her grandfather – a charming and encouraging figure whose stationery was always so proper. Helen is often commissioned for weddings, bespoke art pieces for interiors, and designs for retail shop windows.

To find out more about Frances and Francis’ work, visit the website.

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