In Bloom
Francine Gacrama (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A natural at her craft and no stranger to the dance floor (or to the pole), Vicky Velasco is a woman of character and grace. Between finding time to teach and train as well as juggling freelance jobs creating paper flowers and fabric bouquets for brides, it isn’t hard to imagine that Vicky’s calendar is anything but free. YStyle caught up with her anyway, on the sunniest of mornings.

You may not realize it, but you have probably already seen some of her work before. As the former visual merchandiser of Fully Booked, her intricate and elaborate designs have decorated the bookstore’s windows and displays. She arrives before the clock strikes 10, already energetic (clearly a morning person; trust us when we say her mood is infectious), with armloads of her paper flowers in tow. These days, the flowers — and teaching pole dancing as part of Polecats Manila — are what keeps her occupied. Vicky gives us the lowdown on getting crafty with your career.

 

YSTYLE: What is it exactly that you do?

VICKY VELASCO: I make paper flowers and crafts for special occasions — birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings! Sometimes I get asked to do different kinds of crafts and handmade objects. I also teach pole dancing in Polecats Manila, Ortigas.

 

How did your passion for paper art begin? 

For a few years, I was a production designer and I made window displays. I always gravitated towards design ideas that I could make on my own, always enjoying that DIY aspect of the job. I ended up using paper and cloth in large volumes because those are materials I could handle on my own.

 

Did you ever think you could make a career out of it?

When I started, I was in production, so I made sets, props, put costumes together, so “making things” for a living seemed feasible. I didn’t really think that making only handmade paper flowers would be a prospective career choice until friends started asking me to make them for weddings and birthdays. I’m just starting out, actually, so I’m not even sure if I can sustain it! Haha! This whole paper florist thing is my attempt at trying it out as a career. Fingers crossed!

 

Floral centerpiece: Earthy tones with a hint of purple liven up any dining room table.

What is your work process like?

When I get an inquiry or an order, I usually play around with prototypes of flowers, depending on the client’s requests. Then once we agree on a look or a model, I reproduce! I usually schedule the number of flowers to make per day depending on the volume. On “free” days, I usually experiment on different cuts, textures, prints! 

 

What are the challenges that you face making paper flowers?

So far, the volume of flowers to make to meet a certain idea I have in my head is always hard to execute. I can think of a shape or a kind of look or feel I want to create, but it’s always really hard to translate what’s in my mind to real life. 

Also, I get a lot of inquiries about items that I don’t usually make, like clients will have ideas for flowers of a certain look that I’ve never done. Making our ideas meet and living up to their vision is always a challenge! 

 

Whenever you begin a project, where do you find inspiration?

I usually pick up from previous experiences. For example, if I’m experimenting with a certain kind of petal, the next project I work on, I try to tie it in with the entire look. I also always look to different crafts, different materials, different kinds of objects to see how I can pick up and integrate design elements from them into what I make. I guess it’s a combination of what surrounds me and what the client wants, and how I am able to consolidate all those ideas into one thing. 

 

What kind of projects do you enjoy doing most?

I enjoy making paper crafts in general, so I’m really happy to be doing so every day! I think I like projects with collaborators — with people who create different things or who have different areas of expertise, so our fields combine! It’s always interesting seeing photographers, stylists, and artists work, and trying to pick apart their process, trying to learn from them, and making a few good friends along the way.  

 

What are you currently working on?

I have a few weddings to work on for later this year, and I’m also having a paper flower-making workshop at the end of the month! It’ll be one of my first official ones, so I’m really excited to introduce this craft that I enjoy so much to other people. I’ve had several sessions with friends and I’ve taught them how to make paper flowers, and they always surprise me with the way they make the crafts their own. I’m looking forward to more of that!

 

What’s your most memorable project to date?

One of my favorite projects to work on was a collaboration among photographer Kaity Chua, stylist Geo Custodio and myself. The project was called Florigami, and we created different female personas dressed up and styled in paper clothing and props. I made a dress made of flowers! Check it out at http://kaitychua.com/Florigami.

 

What is your dream project?

I would really like to create an environment one day. Maybe something people can walk into? Something people can experience? Paper flowers are simple and small, but I want to see some more what I can do when I make them in large volumes and put them together to create something else. 

I also want to keep experimenting with the flowers, different prints and colors to use to make them, different shapes, how to make them from different materials, that sort of thing. 

 

Bouquet toss: Vicky creates texture by mixing fabric and paper bunches.

Who inspires you?

I’m so inspired by fellow crafters and creators who have been able to build lives around the handmade movement. They’ve been able to conceptualize events and encourage communities to come together and celebrate what we love and what we’re interested in. Maan and Roma Agsalud of PopJunkLove and Type Kita, Abbey Sy, Life Documented Manila, Alessa Lanot of Life After Breakfast, Mansy Abesamis of Hey Kessy, Fozzy Castro-Dayrit, the 10a Alabama folks, Craft MNL, these are just a few of them. There is a thriving handmande community right now, and I’m so happy to be able to experience it!

What else are you busy with?

I am also a pole dancing instructor with Polecats Manila! If I’m not at home making crafts (or working in a coffee shop), I’m usually in the pole studio, haha! 

 

?How do you find the time to balance both pole dancing and your work?

So far, it’s been good. I have some days when I don’t have to train or teach, so I dedicate those entire days to paper flower projects. When it does get busy, I have to be really strict about what time to get up, start working, how many flowers to have made by a certain time, et cetera. 

 

How did you stumble upon pole dancing?

My friend and production design (and life) mentor Christina Dy was teaching pole dancing and a few of our other common friends were taking lessons. I wanted to try something different, so I took a class!

 

Where do you get the confidence to perform an often-misunderstood art form?

I think being with the Polecats has really helped with this. I get my confidence from my fellow teammates who have been performing for much longer than I have (I joined the company just last year; they had already been active for four years before that). They’ve been teaching for much longer as well. I’m really lucky to be continually learning from them and from our students. It has also helped that my family and friends are supportive and have always been very encouraging! They come out to shows, they don’t mind when I’m late for dinner because of training, that sort of thing.

 

White roses: A delicate sea of unflustered flowers

What’s your personal style like?

For the most part, I like basic things! Black, white, gray, denim. An oversized top, tapered pants and sneakers are my almost-daily uniform. There’s also an exercise-friendly version of that outfit for days when I’m headed to pole. If I find a top or piece I like, I will most likely buy it in a variety of neutral colors.

 

How has your style changed over the years?

I used to love over-accessorizing and layering and colors and prints. I was obsessed with blazers when I had an office job, hahaha! But now, I guess it’s just easier and simpler to mix and match blacks and whites. Also since I’m at the pole studio at some point in the day, I always just end up in workout clothes anyway! I think it’s more of my lifestyle that has changed (from school, to office work, to freelance work, to exercise instructor), so my style evolved along with those changes. 

 

Most insane garment you’ve purchased?

I don’t really think I’ve bought anything absolutely insane, but I used to have a nasty habit of buying anything when I would go ukay ukay shopping. Bathrobes, trench coats in funny prints, gowns, et cetera. Anything that I thought I may use for a costume one day, or anything that was remotely fixable, in a ridiculous print, I would buy. 

 

Who has inspired your style? 

My mom! She loves that whole one-item-in-all-colors kind of thing, hahaha! Style-icon-wise though, I love the Olsen twins, Alexa Chung, and Olivia Palermo. Photos by KIMI JUAN and KAITY CHUA

Makeup by TERENCE BUENAVENTURA of

MAC Cosmetics

 

 

ALWAYS DIFFERENT FLOWERS MAKE PAPER POLECATS MANILA
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