Paper flowers

Photo courtesy of Italian Cultural Centre

Nancy Lui, owner of Citrine Paper Flowers, will host a workshop at the Italian Cultural Centre on Saturday, May 11, to share her craft and teach others the art of making paper flowers.

Vancouver-born Lui’s parents emigrated from Hong Kong in the 1970s. She believes creativity runs through her lineage, from her grandmother as a hand embroiderer in Hong Kong and her grandfather as a photographer, to her mother who taught her the art of paper craft.

“When I was a kid, my mom would go to the library and take out craft books on knitting, origami – she loved anything creative,” she says. “We tried making flowers out of stretchy crepe paper, and she made a Cosmos flower for me and put it in my desk. In 2004 my mom passed away from breast cancer. When I was studying, I would look at it and it would remind me of her. That memory helped me to get through university,” she says.

A creative journey

After university, Lui took many office jobs, but she was continually thinking about what she would want to offer in a new business venture.

“I had a good job and everything was going well,” she says, “but for several years I always had this feeling that I wanted to start my own business.”

She was also thinking about the flower that her mother had made for her.

“I only started making paper flowers a year ago,” says Lui. “That love, that memory, that’s what I wanted to share. And that’s why I wanted to do the workshop.”

Lui joined the Craft Council of BC and responded to the notice requesting vendors for the Christmas Market. Being at the market led to her connection with the Italian Cultural Centre and the start of her new business.

The appreciation and support she has been shown has been encouraging.

“My friends have been very supportive – when I first started out, they bought flowers as birthday gifts,” she says.

Lui now makes a wide variety of paper flowers, including peonies and orchids, for weddings and special events. The flowers are made from heavyweight, Italian crepe paper, which makes them highly durable.

“Making paper flowers is very forgiving,” says Lui. “You don’t have to do it perfectly; no two flowers are the same. If the shape is wonky, it’s actually a little more natural,” she points out.

Crafting responsibly

Nancy Lui turned to flower making a year ago. | Photo courtesy of Nancy Liu

Lui also believes creating paper flowers is more eco-friendly than fresh flower growing when considering the farmland, water and cost of replacing cut flowers. Like the flower she kept from her mother, she enjoys the long-lasting effects of paper flowers and the sentimentality behind them.

To align with her values, Lui has made efforts to ensure that Citrine Paper Flowers is a carbon-neutral business: for each roll of paper used, a tree is planted. She consulted a carbon-offsetting company to determine the recommended donation amount to fund a tree, and once a year sends the money matching the number of paper rolls she used to plant the corresponding number of trees.

Lui is excited about the event, which will be her first public workshop. It will be held in the museum at the Italian Cultural Centre, so participants will be able to view the museum exhibit simultaneously. There will be room for approximately 20 participants.

Lui believes that the workshop will be a good outlet for someone who wants to spend a couple of hours making something creative with their hands. “I hope there will be people with friends or with their moms, because making flowers is a truly bonding activity,” she says.

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