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Wendy’s Blooms
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Wendy’s Blooms 

Topanga artist Wendy Skolfield handcrafts paper blooms in her studio. I didn’t know much about this artform’s history, but I was eager to meet her. Following the path to her studio, all sorts of winged creatures worked busily pollinating. Entering her studio felt akin to stepping into brightness transmuted, a peace fell over me, looking around the space, each paper bloom had a character of its own; perky, graceful, demure—a myriad of delicate moods. Each flower seemed to hold within it a story, a testament to the craftsmanship and unwavering dedication poured into its creation.

I was commissioned to photograph Wendy’s paper blooms in her studio. As I photographed her work, Wendy described her creative process. It became evident that her creations were not merely decorative pieces but rather labors of love. Each petal was meticulously hand-dyed, cut, and delicately glued into place. The intricate details of her work, from the subtle ombre effect to the delicate veining, spoke volumes about her dedication to the craft. 

She recounted a heartwarming story that underscored the sentimental value of her creations. One of her dearest friends, expecting her first grandchild, had expressed a desire for a special piece for the nursery. It was during the Topanga Open Studio Tour that the news of the baby’s arrival, a beautiful girl named Iris, came through a text message.

“I want something like this,” her friend had exclaimed, pointing to the vibrant paper flowers adorning the studio. And so, with the baby’s name as her muse, Wendy set to work on a piece that would capture the essence of the iris flower.

“Isn’t it remarkable?” she shared, gesturing towards a particularly intricate bloom. “And to think, it all begins with just a simple sheet of white paper.”

Indeed, the metamorphosis from plain paper to lifelike flower is nothing short of magical. Through a meticulous combination of dyeing, painting, and shaping, Wendy breathes life into her creations, infusing them with a sense of vitality and beauty.

In the Japanese language, there is a word—komorebi—that describes the phenomenon when sunlight filters through foliage. Like living flowers, Wendy’s paper blossoms cast dappled shadows, filling the room with a delicate dance of light and color.

The medium Wendy favors, Italian-made crepe paper, has been utilized for centuries and is prized for its strength and versatility. The art of making paper flowers originated in China. The art of making paper flowers traveled to Japan, India, and Vietnam, before reaching Europe, where paper flowers became a popular art in the Victorian Era, one that is experiencing a new wave of popularity worldwide.

For Wendy, crafting paper flowers is more than just a pastime—it is a form of therapy, a source of solace during times of adversity. As she shared her journey, I marveled at the transformative power of creativity, moving forward, one petal at a time. Wendy’s flowers serve as a poignant reminder of the enduring beauty of handmade objects. 

Leaving the studio, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to glimpse into the world of handmade paper flowers—an artform imbued with beauty and patience, the relationship between them.

On May 4, from 12 – 4pm, Wendy will be the Featured Artist at Topanga Homegrown at Pine Tree Circle for a Meet the Artist session. She will be showing ready made blooms as well as accepting commissions for custom arrangements, just in time for your Mother’s Day gift shopping. 

See more of Wendy’s flowers at https://atwistedflower.com and @atwistedflower 

Photos from top to bottom: Dahlias are a recurring theme in Wendy’s work, symbolizing perseverance and overcoming obstacles, a nice offering perhaps for someone going through a difficult time. 

Flower with hand: “And to think, it all begins with just a simple sheet of white paper.” Wendy artist and owner of A Twisted Flower workshop. Photography by Saori Wall

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