Paper Artist

Hello Wonderful! An Interview With Kate Alarcón From The Cobra Lily

I love paper and I love flowers and I love love love the work that Kate Alarcón creates as The Cobra Lily! Kate hand makes unusual paper flowers and plants here in the Pacific Northwest. Kate has just started to sell small releases of single blooms and small arrangements that are to die for and she also teaches workshops. A trip down to Seattle to take one of her classes is totally on my to do list this year! Enjoy getting to know Kate in the interview below.

    Photo credit: Grace Kim

    Photo credit: Grace Kim

    Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?

    I'm a paper flower maker and teacher, just out side Seattle.

    What do you believe in? 

    In no particular order: kindness, curiosity, honesty, compassion, justice, humor, creativity, beauty, hard work, community, competition, and love.

    When do you feel your most wonderful?

    I don't think I could pick just one wonderful situation, so I'll offer three that happened very recently. While walking in the sunshine with my two and a half year old daughter last week, we got into an argument about whether some flowers we found were pansies or primroses. That was pretty wonderful. And last weekend, my seven year old scored a goal in soccer, and we did our secret (and fairly complicated) high five as he ran off the field. And I made progress on this cactus design I've been wanting to do for a long time, which was a thrill.

    What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?: We had a fairly disastrous relocation experience moving from the northeast to the pacific northwest two years ago--it seemed like everything went exactly wrong in ways we had never thought to expect. But, while we were doing fine there, I feel like, as a family, we're flourishing here in ways we hadn't thought to hope for. I probably would never have started putting my work out into the world had we not made this move, and that's been life-changing for me.

    What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder?

    My dad took me fishing starting when I was little. We would stand on the big rocks and cast our lines into the pacific ocean, and sometimes catch a fish. At home, when we were gutting them, he would show me how to slice open their stomachs to see what they had been eating. To be able to catch such an intimate glimpse of life underwater was so profound to me. And I appreciate that my parents shared their own wonder at the natural world with me.

    Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about?

    Ganna Walska, Marianne Eriksen Scott-Hansen and Elizabeth Pawle.

    Thank you so much Kate! You can view Kate's The Cobra Lily website here and follow her journey on Instagram and Pinterest too.  

    Have a wonderful day!

    Hello Wonderful! An interview with the wonderful Ann Martin From All Things Paper

    Inspiring others to look at paper in a new light Ann Martin is an avid paper roller! When she isn't creating beautiful quilled paper work she runs the fantastically inspiring website All Things Paper. I was so excited when Ann recently interviewed me ( check it out here) and I am so pleased to now interview Ann on Hello Wonderful!  Enjoy getting to know Ann below and you'll see why she's so inspiring and wonderful! 


    Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?
    Hello there! I'm Ann Martin, an avid paper roller in Delaware, U.S. which is located on the east coast. The art/craft of rolled paper - quilling - is something I happened upon while paging through a magazine. I was so taken by the pretty scrolls, I knew instantly I had to learn to do it. So I joined an online group, borrowed a how-to book from the library, and cut copy paper into strips to practice making coils. Before long I was coming up with patterns of my own and began submitting them to paper craft magazines. 

    I taught card making classes at a craft store and a student asked me to decorate her Quaker marriage certificate with quilling. I had never heard of this type of document, but once she explained it to me, I loved the concept. A marriage certificate is lettered with a couple's vows and is signed by them in front of wedding guests who also sign as a pledge of support. It is no longer just a Quaker tradition... a certificate can take the place of a traditional guestbook. When framed and hung in the home, it is a lovely reminder of the day. That first certificate led me to start a business creating custom wedding and anniversary documents, invitations and birth announcements, all of which are meant to be framed. I collaborate with Riva Brown of Living Letters Studio who did the beautiful calligraphy you see on these examples.

    I also love to make paper jewelry and have found that metallic-edge quilling paper makes convincingly 'real' jewelry. It is so much fun to see eyes widen in surprise when a person learns the piece they're admiring is made of paper!

    What do you believe in?
    I believe that everyone has the ability to be creative, but it needs to be nurtured. There must be a willingness, of course - dare I say a yearning - to observe, study, practice, repeat. 

    When do you feel your most wonderful?

    You mean besides the times I'm surrounded by my family and we all find the exact same thing hilarious? I'm also pretty fond of the very last step of a marriage certificate - signing my name. It's the culmination of a long process... many emails between the client and myself as we plan the design, then quilling the elements and finally gluing everything in place. 

    What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?

    If I hadn't decided to turn down an offer from a publisher who invited me to write my first paper craft book, I never would have gone on to do it exactly as I'd hoped. Declining the offer was risky as I had no idea if I would ever have another opportunity. You see, what I had in mind was to bring together all sorts of paper creatives from around the world who I had met via my All Things Paper blog. I envisioned showing how to make stylish and useful items from many types of paper. The sticking point though, was that rather than have the designers make/send each step of the project to one location for photography, I was confident that each person could do their own spectacular photos and that the book would still have a cohesive look. It took much searching over a two year period but finally one company - Tuttle Publishing - agreed to take a chance on my harebrained scheme. And it worked! I'm so proud of All Things Paper and the designers who went above and beyond what I dreamed was possible.


    What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder? When was the most recent time?
    Ah, this question takes me back to the ripe old age of four when I decided it just wasn't fair that my older sister could go to school, but I had to miss all the fun. I slipped out of the house, walked to the top of our hill and crossed the street to the elementary school. I still remember the wonderful feeling that I'd accomplished my mission as I tugged open the heavy door and tiptoed down the wide hallway to her classroom. Of course it wasn't long until the teacher spotted me and called my by then frantic mother, who I don't recall being particularly upset with me... I have a feeling she understood. 

    The most recent time was on a long-anticipated trip to Italy. I had always heard that the light is special there, and as I stood on an overlook in a medieval hillside town on a glorious summer day and gazed at the fields below, it struck me that this is exactly what people meant... the sunlight truly had a glow that I've never encountered anywhere else.


    Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about?
    Let me tell you about three friends whose talent knows no bounds...

    Lisa Nilsson is an artist in Massachusetts who creates the most densely quilled art pieces you can imagine. She works with hand-cut strips of Japanese mulberry paper so the colors are subtle and rich, and gilded papers that she trims from old books just as the earliest quillers did. Lisa's Tissue Series took popular design sites by storm a few years ago.

    Licia Politis in New South Wales, Australia creates an amazingly complex quilled project each year to enter in the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where more often than not she wins a top award. Despite working full-time as a barber and often helping her daughter with a party decor business, each March Licia manages to submit an art piece in the nick of time. You can see examples herehere, and here.

    I first met Casey Starks of California while hunting for a special Christmas gift for my son's girlfriend. She had recently purchased a MINI Cooper and Casey's Vitamini shop was stocked with beautifully made items any MINI owner would treasure. Soon after that, I invited Casey to design a project for the All Things Paper book as I realized via her blog that she is one of the most versatile crafters I know. Always trying out new materials, Casey meets with success every time - at least it seems that way to me! 


    Thank you so much Ann! You can view Ann's website here and follower her journey on InstagramFacebookTwitter and Pinterest.  

    Have a wonderful day!