I have always had a fascination with things that look real, but are actually fake. Fondant cakes that look like burgers were invented for people like me. I once even paid the full admission fee at Madame Tussauds so I could pose next to a wax figure of Meryl Streep. So, you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across Jennifer Tran’s work. At first, I mistakenly thought she was purely a photographer taking really nice photos of flowers (which she kind of is), but then upon closer inspection I realised Jennifer’s flowers were all fake! She had made every single petal, stem, leaf and stamen by hand.
Jennifer accidentally stumbled into paper craft. Originally studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Education at UNSW, it wasn’t until Jennifer came across a copy of Paper to Petal by Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell that her interest was piqued. She started to experiment making paper flowers from her home studio in Flemington, NSW, which is conveniently located a few minutes from Sydney’s flower markets.
‘My interest in flowers developed after I started crafting. The more time I spent observing flowers, the more I appreciated their beauty and their complexity,’ notes Jennifer. She has since made intricate and elaborate paper sculptures of a great a variety of flowers including the camellia, gardenia, rose, dahlia, peony, hydrangea, waterlily, orchid, as well as Australian natives like the waratah and bottlebrush.
After a successful solo exhibition showcasing her work earlier this year, Jennifer decided to turn her craft into a business under the name Papetal. She is currently developing an online store, and has been working on commissions and custom bouquets and headpieces for various clients.
Working with crepe paper, Jennifer chooses her colour palette first, then cuts out each individual component of the flower she intends to create. ‘I cut petals by hand, usually without using a template, so that each one is unique’ she explains. ‘I make a flower centre before attaching each petal separately to maintain a stable structure. Attachments like leaves and buds are added at the end,’ she adds. Each flower can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three weeks to make, depending on the size and complexity.
Self taught, Jennifer is itching to learn more and collaborate with likeminded creatives, and has a few big projects already in the pipeline. We predict it won’t be long until Papetal is in full bloom!