Who is Lia Griffith? And why am I hearing about her on the Silhouette Secrets+ blog?
Lia is a paper flower artist. She & her team develop paper flowers and files that can be reproduced by others. As well as many other crafty projects using different mediums.
I first met Lia at the Silhouette Summit in May 2019. We happened to be in the same group during the event and just started talking. Of course, since we were at a Silhouette event, the talk turned towards crafting. Lia showed me her Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/liagriffith/) and I was blown away. The spark was lit and with the new Cameo 4 announced, cutting crepe paper was added to the list of material it could cut.
Who better to learn from than the crepe paper guru!
After the Silhouette Summit, I contacted Lia and asked about an interview once the Cameo 4 was released and she’d had a chance to use it. I started cutting crepe paper a little bit before the November 2019 All Things Silhouette Conference to test for the classes that Lia & her team were teaching. It was only the beginning. While I didn’t have a lot of time to really dive in, in December 2019 I took that plunge and I am hooked. I want to share that with all of you.
*Note affiliate links may be present in the following blog post and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Interview with Lia Griffith
I recently sat down with Lia and through wonderful ways of technology & Skype had a great time learning more about her, her journey, and her tips for crepe paper and getting started.
How did you get started with crafting? Is it something you’ve always done?
My parents were both artists. When I was born, they were both photographers. And I was the 4th of 4 daughters, so I was the youngest. And our whole life was handmade. Almost by default because we didn’t have money, we were those folks. We had our own garden, we sewed our own clothing, we made Christmas gifts all the time; it was just the way we lived. That’s what we knew.
And then when I went to college, I went to graphic design school, that was my career of choice. And my parents actually the 3 of us went to school together. My Dad was getting his sculpture degree and he went on and got his Masters. And then my Mom was an illustrator and potter. And she went on to be a professional Illustrator. And then I went on to do Graphic Design. So that was kind of a fun part of my life. Just that, going to college with my parents.
So, it was a combination of art was our focus, but yet, our life was crafted. As I said, it was all DIY. Everything was DIY. And I think it came to me naturally too, when I was, I remember, specifically when I was 4 & 5 years old, we lived in this farmhouse in Oregon. And I would spend my time while my sisters were at school & I was home alone, and I would spend my days making things out of paper. So, I would make this cardboard car that I would get in and drive and I would make these paper clothing that I would wear, little costumes and shoes and things out of paper. I would my own dolls out of paper. I would take toilet paper and wrap them and glue it. I actually still have them. And make these little 3-dimensional dolls and then dress them.
So, when did I start crafting – huh? I don’t know how not to.
But as far as doing this for a living, I spent most of my career as a graphic designer. But I was always searching for something bigger. So, I’ve opened a couple retail stores, I had a flower shop, I had a baby clothes store. I actually had a baby clothes line that I produced for a while, that I designed and got out there, got into Nordstrom’s and Disney picked it up. It was ok.
But 7 years ago, I started this company (LiaGriffith.com) and right before that I was working as a Creative Director for a wedding stationary company, and I started a DIY wedding blog for them. Teaching, you know this was a while ago, 7 years ago, and there weren’t a lot of paper flowers back then. And just teaching brides how to take things and make their own DIY things for their wedding. And the blog went crazy of course because it was such a fresh new idea back then. And that’s when I started making paper flowers for real. I had made some prior to that when I did the paper runway show. So, I had made some large, jumbo flowers as part of the costume or part of the outfit and then I started making them in smaller versions. And then started thinking, ok, how can I create this so people can replicate it and it would be beautiful and it’s not difficult? So, my mind started going that direction. And at that point, all of my flowers were, I’d call it frosted paper at this point, but at that point, I would just use printer paper, light weight and I would paint on both sides, then cut it, and make these flowers. And then I discovered the frosted paper, which is something I’d used in graphic design prior. So, all of that 3-dimensional sculpted paper flower was really where I started. And then I looked at crepe paper and I was like “Eh – ok, I know there’s other people doing it. It’s not very pretty to me” And I tried a few things and didn’t love it. And then, I think it was about 4 years ago, well actually a little prior to that, the Italian crepe paper company came and said, “Do you want to try some of our crepe paper?” And I did. I did some videos for them and I liked it ok. I did a couple dozen flowers with them. And then the German crepe paper company came and said we’d love to have you collaborate with us. And that was when I really fell in love with crepe paper. Because they offered up not just the heavy weight crepe paper, but then they offered up the extra fine and then the double sided. So, having that range of 3, really shifted how I looked at crepe paper. And I feel… It’s been great having Megan and Krista as well, where we really dive in and wrap our head around how to best use the crepe paper.
So, that was kind of my journey into the crepe paper flower world and who would have thought, right?
Do you think the cutting machines have made it more popular or made it easier or do you think it was easier to do it by hand, because that’s how you started is by hand?
You know as far as the frosted paper flowers are definitely easier with a cutting machine because of the detail you can get. So, the Hellebore design, these are a pretty detailed design, with the tiny details. The petals aren’t so much but the little tiny stamen and the center bits & pieces, I mean you couldn’t cut that by hand. So as far as cutting machine for this, “Oh yeah!”. And some of the some of the other projects we have on our site, like one of my favorites are the little Amsterdam houses, but the detail work in that, there’s you know… without a cutting machine, who’s going to sit there with a knife and cut all those.
When the cutting machine came into my life, it changed the way I designed. It changed the way I prototyped; I was able to get through design ideas faster because I wouldn’t have to start over. There it was and it was like “Ok, let’s tweak here and there.” and then cut it again. It would get me from point A to point Z quicker… prototyping became a snap. And I think that’s true for all of the designers here on this team, is we rely… our cutting machines are running every day. Every day.
So as far as crepe paper goes, I feel like when we are prototyping crepe paper flowers that we usually cut by hand. And the way I do it is, I’ll prototype it by hand and if I cut something, I’ll sketch it and then take a photo of it with my phone with a ruler. And then put it in my computer and then do the svg cut file from that. That’s my methodology.
So, every single crepe paper flower that we design we always have a svg cut file for it. And I would say we do about 50/50 on the crepe paper. Sometimes if it’s a project, like these peonies, we’ll cut these all by hand just because it’s easier and you can stack them. You can stack 3 or 4 of them at a time and cut them. But, when we are cutting, say for the All Things Silhouette Conference, and we had to get all the packs pre-cut for everybody… those were all cutting machines. So, it sped it up so fast. So, there is definitely a time and a place for both – so I would say about 50/50.
What would be your top tips for a beginner wanting to make crepe paper flowers?
So, one of the things that I think is a great place to start is the Crepe Paper Flowers book.
Not to promote it, but I feel like it’s very simple & basic and it goes through each… everything you might want to know or that you may not know you want to know. It gives an overall view so that it takes the fear away from the crepe paper because I think I’ve heard over and over, “Oh, I’ve got my pack of crepe paper, but I’m so scared to cut it.” So, if you understand that the grain is important, that it goes a certain direction on the petals. And if you understand different techniques of cutting, it takes away the fear.
The book and there’s a video on our site & on YouTube that I recommend for anyone who is wanting to start working with crepe paper. It’s called 10 Amazing Facts You’ll Want to know About Crepe Paper. It covers the really important things that are in the book but I talk about it and show it, so it’s easier to consume. It talks about the different types of crepe paper. It talks about Italian, Chinese, Mexican… so that you understand… and of course German. It talks about why I might use Extra Fine over Double Sided, or where I use the different types of crepe paper. I would recommend that for everybody who wants to make crepe paper flowers, to watch that video. Because again, it just takes away the mystery.
(You can find that video HERE.)
Second, when you are making paper flowers, remember that this is a new skill. People don’t pick up a violin and play it immediately. Be gentle, enjoy it, enjoy the discovery of the new material and seeing how it works and watching the magic of how it will stretch when you pull it this way and that way. It’s a magical material! It’s so fun! And also, with the curling tool. So between with the curling tool and the stretch, there is just so much you can do in shaping. And so, my tip on that is really just go into the magic of how and the process of discovery of crepe paper.
“Because it’s addictive!”
And the third thing is, when you are making a crepe paper flower, it is really hard to make an ugly crepe paper flower. It’s really hard… I mean you can… but it’s really hard. Every crepe paper flower is a beautiful crepe paper flower.
If there was 1 flower you would recommend for a beginner to start with, what is it?
I always recommend the Anemone. Because it has enough detail that it makes it interesting, but there’s only 9 petals so it’s easy to assemble. And you have the foam ball in the center, or we use the cotton spun balls, so that gives it some structure. So, it gives it kind of a neat detail, structure, and then only 9 petals and it’s beautiful! Easy to make.
If you had to pick 1 flower to make for each season, what would it be for Winter?
I really love the Hellebore. To me it’s a new discovery flower for me. I only became aware of this flower a couple years ago. Because it’s different and new. And the colors are a bit more plum, mauve, and a limey green.
I love my tulips! And the tulips we made with crepe paper, we put the wire in the petal center, which shaped them. And it’s so much fun. We are going to be doing some new tulips. We will be doing some beautiful Parrot Tulips this Spring. We will probably be doing a Member Make Parrot Tulip; I think it’s on our list.
Roses. I love my roses. Peonies.
We did the Dahlia for a Member Make this fall. Dahlias have been one of those things because it has so many petals that we’ve avoided it for awhile and then finally we had one that was ok. And we finally jumped in and Megan developed this one, it was so easy the way she developed it. It made it so easy to do.
And that’s kind of how we go on all our flowers… how can we do this so that anyone can reproduce it?
What is your favorite flower to create?
The Gardenia – the double-sided Gardenia. There is something about that flower to that… I think it really reminds me of my mother. It just has that homeyness to it.
Have you had a chance to cut with the Cameo 4 and rotary blade? What are your thoughts?
Yes! It’s beautiful. The rotary blade is magical! There are so many things you can do with that blade. Not just with crepe paper – which it cuts spot on – but we also love to cut felt with it.
What did you think of your first All Things Silhouette Conference?
I loved it! We had so much fun! I mean after we got back, I said to my team, “We are going back. And more of us are going.”
(You can find out more information about the 2020 All Things Silhouette Conference HERE. Hope you will join us and get a chance to meet Lia in person.)
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t crafting, creating, or working at the office?
Cooking, eating out, hanging out with friends, all that. I love to be outside in nature, going on hikes and walks, hanging out with my dog. Meditate. I read a lot. I don’t read, read. I listen read. So, I’ll listen to books. Last year, I read “listened” to, I Audible read, 27 books. I like to consume knowledge.
Last year, I did a pottery class, that just put me over the edge. So, I’m really wanting and craving, getting back into pottery more. So, my Mom was a potter. And I took a sewing class. I love to travel and hang out with my 25-year-old daughter.
You just were in Germany; you were there for a trade show. What was exciting about your trip? And are there new things coming for 2020 that you can share with us.
New paper flower kits, the flat ones and are all pre-cut. Which is great because if someone doesn’t have a cutting machine, it’s a way to introduce them to things that can be cut on a cutting machine. So those are doing really well for us. We have 12 packs right now and we are expanding that collection.
And we have new paper pads that are out now and those are really fun, most of those are flower colors for the frosted paper flowers.
We are also getting wires, those are coming. Those should be out in a month or two.
So, we are just trying to expand to be a one stop place to get supplies.
We are going to start doing more kits, we might even do a monthly subscription kit from our shop, eventually. There’s a lot of things in the air.
We are excited about creating beautiful craft experiences for our community, such as craft boxes, events and more. In fact, we are working on plans for a Bloom Summit here in Portland in the fall … a couple days and it would be a combination of making and just inspiration… creating beautiful lives, as women who have businesses. I will provide more details as it comes up.
What is one thing you plan to create in 2020 that you have never done before?
I’ve never done needle punch art. There was so much of that in Germany.
I want to thank Lia Griffith for taking the time to sit down with me and chat about herself and give us her tips for getting started with crepe paper creations!
As a special bonus for all of my readers and followers, they have provided us with a coupon code to save 20% off the annual membership on the LiaGriffith.com website. This gives you access to project templates, step-by-step tutorials, Live Member Makes, a private Facebook group, and more! The coupon code is SILHOUETTESECRETS
Many have asked how I created the crepe paper flowers in the past few weeks and this is how! I am not usually one for a subscription, but I took the leap and treated myself as a Christmas present to try it for the year. I now have more things saved to “My Craft Room” area on the website, then I can possibly complete in a year.
Here is a little peek at what I’ve added.
Don’t forget to use code SILHOUETTESECRETS to get 20% off the annual membership!
This coupon is good for the first 50 people to sign up.
Now, do you HAVE to have the membership to start cutting crepe paper with your Cameo 4?
But, it is what helped me get over any apprehension I had with trying something new and now I am hooked. For me, it was well worth it!
Crepe Paper Supplies
Where do you get crepe paper supplies?
Just like any other project, I think quality matters. Low quality products can end up leaving you with a headache and end up costing you more in the long run.
I have been using the Lia Griffith crepe paper and I love it!
As Lia said above, it is a German crepe paper and it comes in 3 varieties, so you have a lot of options to create flowers with. There is Extra Fine, Double-sided, and Heavy crepe paper that all give a different texture and feel to the projects.
I have “collected” supplies from both sites and have had to get a few more totes to keep it all contained.
But, I have to say my favorite thing was receiving this card in my supply box from the LiaGriffith.com site.
It is going on my Vision board. (shhh…. that’s on my to-do list too)
It is also in the front of the Lia Griffith Crepe Paper Flowers book, so any time you need a little encouragement, just open it up and read it to yourself.
How do you know which crepe paper to use?
To be honest, I just use what Lia & her team recommend. This is all new to me, so I am learning as I go. But, the best way is to just play with it. “Enjoy it.” as Lia said above.
My main focus is Silhouette & how you can cut the crepe paper on the Cameo 4 with the rotary blade.
For more tips on cutting cutting with your Cameo 4 check out this post
Cutting Crepe Paper on the Cameo 4
For tips on what to do after the flower is cut on the Cameo 4, I will refer you to the experts of Lia Griffith and her team at LiaGriffith.com.
That is where I am learning how to assemble these amazing crepe paper projects!
Like it, love it, save it for later by pinning the image below.
**This post may contain affiliate links. What that means is that I may receive compensation if you purchase through the links I have provided. The price you pay for the product or service is not higher but I may get compensated for sharing.