Meet paper artist Micheala Childs
It's impossible to miss the blossoming decor of Micheala Childs, who creates bespoke floral designs from her East London studio. Micheala's products are available from her shop, Comeuppance, which can be found both on Etsy and notonthehighstreet.com. Her creations reflect a long-burning passion for oriental prints, and a decades worth of print design experience. We chatted with Micheala to get the scoop on her intricate interior-designs.
You not only create beautiful paper blooms, you’re also a womenswear print designer. What inspired you to start creating flowers with paper?
I love lace and so started making lace elements out of paper, most of them were flowers and leaves, then I saw the Chanel SS09 fashion show! They had made the most amazing paper flower backdrops, so I ditched the intricate lace details from my designs and enlarged them. I have always loved the beautiful stylized flowers found in oriental prints, so this also inspired some of the shapes of the flowers.
Are there any plans to combine the two mediums and create flowers using your prints?
I think that it is inevitable that it will happen at some point! I have had a few ideas for some delicate black and white stripe and spot prints to go on to very simple stylised flowers, and maybe some ditsy ones too.
Micheala's floral cake toppers from issue 68 of Creativity
What is it about flowers that inspired you to craft them from paper as well as use them in your prints?
I think that it is the sheer volume of variety, and the colours! I think also, the fact that they are ephemeral makes them precious, that needs to be captured or replicated.
Is there anything or anyone that inspires your work?
I am inspired by so many things; nature and history, vintage prints from the 30s and 40s, antique kimonos and sarees, basically anything with a pretty print on it! I am also inspired by the beautiful work of Helen Amy Murray, Melanie Miller, Sara Landeta, and I love Felice Casorati’s floral field paintings. I also love Liberty prints. My current favourite reference book is the Collier Campbell archive, a collection of work by two sisters who designed predominately for liberty.
Are there any floral blooms in particular that you like creating?
My favourite flowers both in real life and in paper are peonies!
What inspired you to create your online shop Comeuppance?
It started out as a place to sell handmade wedding jewellery, and then eventually I started making paper wedding decorations to go with it. Those have now taken over completely. Originally it was a hobby that I never expected to become my full time job. I had to quit my day job as a print designer earlier this year to focus on it!
It sounds like you’re a dab hand when it comes to crafting! Is there any craft type that you’ve not yet tried and would like to have a go at?
I did some very basic macramé years ago, and now it’s come into fashion I’d really like to have a go at it again and do it properly this time. I’d also love to learn how to make fringing and tassels. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make needle lace too. I love how easy it is to learn new things these days–you can find a video tutorial for anything!
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The freedom to do what I want, when I want!
And the not so great?
The not so great is the flip side of the answer above, it’s really difficult to completely relax and switch off from work. I always feel guilty if I’m not working!
Micheala's flower garland, found in her shop, Comeuppance.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I was always told at university not to hold anything back and to invest in my work. It’s something I’ve found to be true, never save a good idea for later!
What process do you go through when creating the flowers?
During the design stage I will look at the flower I’m trying to re-create and break it down into layers (not literally!). I will then draw these out and scan them into the computer, and then I use a plotter to cut them out. I curl or fold the petals and glue them together, and make design adjustments until I’m happy with the final flower.
Does it take long for you to come up with a new design?
It can take as little as half an hour, but most of the time it’s much, much longer! On occasion I’ve had to give up because it’s taking too long and I just can’t get it to work!
How do you go about deciding what materials to use when it comes to making each of the blooms?
Unfortunately it’s very easy to decide, as I’ve found the options quite limited. I’ve not yet found a paper supplier who does the type of paper I like in the colours that I want and the large sizes that I need. I always have to compromise!
Who taught you what you know?
I kind of taught myself. I’ve always made things and it comes naturally to me to be able to come up with a way to create something, but I can thank my Dad for getting me started. My most vivid childhood memories are of crafting things with him.
What is the best commission that you’ve ever had?
It is a recent one. I was asked by a company called Curious Fair to make some flowers for The Library Music Awards. They were styles and shapes that I hadn’t done before, it was really enjoyable! They styled them in a really unusual way too. It’s always good to work to somebody else brief, it makes you think differently.
Are there any pieces of craft kit that you couldn’t be without?
I couldn’t work without my glue gun, bone folder or palette knife.
What’s next for yourself and Comeuppance?
I’ve just started selling on notonthehighstreet.com, which I’m still getting used to. I’m also going to be selling with a couple of other online shops too, so that’s keeping me quite busy! Hopefully I will get some time to work on some new things too!
See Micheala's floral cupcake tutorial in issue 68 of docrafts Creativity magazine.