This is part 2 of my book review series!
Today I'm talking about Livia Cetti's book "The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations". I ordered this online from Book Depository and this is actually her 2nd book! The only reason why I did not buy her first book is because her main material is tissue paper/ construction paper (she hardly uses Italian crepe from what I can tell). However, her second book focuses more on playing with colours and shapes when arranging flowers - and thats something I wanted to learn!
*Again, a quick disclaimer that these aren't official reviews since I don't give a rating or stars or anything, I'm just sharing my thoughts on the book so that you can make a more informed decision if you're thinking of purchasing it! I've added some photos, but I don't want to give away too much of the book as well, so you'll have to buy the book if you want more! :D
If you'll like to see Livia in action, check her out on Youtube! She has classes on Creativebug as well, I've embedded a nice introductory video here:
No. of projects: 25 flowers + 15 arrangements Main Materials: Tissue paper, Construction paper, Floral Tape
Sections: Getting Started (tools, materials, bleaching, etc.), The Flowers, The Projects
Templates provided?: Yes! At the back of the book (but its printed double-sided so photo-copying is a must)
REASONS WHY I LOVE THIS BOOK:
1. LOOKING AT FLOWERS AS SHAPES - this is the MAJOR theme of the book!! Livia's flowers are organized according to their shapes (globes, cones, arcs, etc.). I thought it was quite a unique approach to paper flowers - when it comes to making a flower or making arrangements, I instinctively focus on colours first, shape is not something I prioritized, but this book trains you to think of the flower HOLISTICALLY, which is especially useful when it comes to making your flowers STRUCTURALLY STABLE. E.g. I think its easy to focus solely on the bloom itself and forget about the stem and leaves (I myself made this mistake, resulting in blooms that are "top heavy" and droopy). Thinking about shape, structure, and balance (e.g. the thickness of the wires, placement of leaves, etc.) helps create not just a nice bloom head but a nice COMPLETE flower stalk and eventually, a well-balanced floral arrangement as well.
Quote from the book: "By thinking of flowers as elemental shapes, it is easier to be free with your techniques and create blooms that are more natural looking and less manufactured." (p.8)
This was pretty enlightening to me. My own roses started out as looking very manufactured, I was preoccupied with making them look symmetrical and they turned out to look unnatural. Taking this bit of advice, my roses are now less "perfect" but more natural-looking because I decided to focus on the overall look and shape and less on getting each petal looking identical and perfectly arranged.
Spot the difference! My new roses on the top and my old one on the bottom. The old one can looked too stiff after a while aha so I'm glad I updated them!
2. BLEACHING AND DYEING - This, I feel, is Livia's signature. Although I personally dislike bleaching and dyeing my paper (if you've worked with Italian crepe, adding colour is a tad more complicated compared to tissue paper). However, if this something that interests you, Livia does a great job in offering a step-by-step explanation of how to dye or paint your papers. It can be a long process (you've got to dye your papers, hang them to dry, etc.), but you know, the SUBTLE colour variations in Livia's blooms are something I envy so much! In this case, patience pays off!
3. BLOOM KNOWLEDGE + HER FANCIFUL ARRANGEMENTS - Something that I took away from this book was learning all these exotic blooms that I've not known before. I think I've never heard 50% of the blooms: Alliums, Rhododendrons, Campanulas, what are those?! Haha. Not your expected collection of conventional blooms. I would also say that Livia's blooms are also more stylized, so its very interesting to see how she translates a real bloom into paper. Its also interesting to me how she juxtaposes yet balances the very soft texture of tissue with her petals with the hard stiff quality of construction paper in her leaves - the overall feel is hard and soft at the same time. Moreover, her arrangements are completely STUNNING. She has examples of table arrangements, wall hangings, chandeliers, garlands - its a great exciting mix of projects that will no doubt take a lot of work but look just magnificent.
WHO I THINK SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK
If you love RECIPES! Haha. I would liken this book to a recipe book because there are just so many detailed steps for a single flower! Not every step is shown in pictures, I would say for most of the flowers, the photos only show steps starting from the bloom assembly (skipping the material preparation steps, like cutting or colouring your petals). If you like reading specific instructions and creating flowers in a very methodical way, Livia's book is well suited for you. I, on the other hand, prefer to learn visually, so reading through the large chunks of text wasn't my cup of tea (compared to Paper to Petal, this book is rather text-heavy), but luckily I kind of know my way around paper flowers enough to fill in the blanks from the photos. One more thing I liked was how she adds a personal story before each flower, explaining the story behind it her personal connection with the bloom.
Lovers of dip-dyeing, bleaching and flower-making with tissue paper! As you already know, I prefer my Italian crepe, tissue paper tears easily and I'm not very gentle with my hands! However, if you like the soft, translucent quality of tissue, this will be the first book I recommend to you. Its also a plus that tissue paper is easily available in Singapore!
Also anyone who needs help with arrangements. I myself have a very go-with-the-flow style when it comes to floral arrangements. For her arrangements, Livia goes into details like which blooms you start with first and even going as far as to include the specific angles you bend the wires at or the length of different segments. You can tell Livia has a more mathematical mind and again, if you're like her, this book is pretty perfect for you. I also love the variety of projects and how differently you can arrange flowers in your home.
I definitely appreciate how Livia brings a kind of mathematical order to the world of paper flowers. Its a new perspective for me and even though I myself don't work with tissue paper, this book has helped me a lot in thinking about structure, shape and balance. I hope it helps you too! :D