David Beahm with whom she had previously collaborated... as lead stylist of the East Room's holiday decor, he asked if she would be willing to contribute her time and talent.
Tana Leigh worked practically non-stop for five weeks prior to the installation, shaping flowers from sheets of ultra-heavy watercolor paper... all worth it though, as Bohemian Bloom has received a lovely amount of press, not to mention the Obamas praised the decorations at a White House holiday party she and her husband attended.
Tana Leigh got her start making paper flowers for her own wedding in the autumn of 2011 and launched Bohemian Bloom in 2012 after the wedding was featured in the New York Daily News. Creating backdrops of gigantic roses for special events and weddings is the company's specialty, as well as bridal bouquets and boutonnieres composed of signature paper blooms, and flower-adorned table number and escort cards.
A little aside for book artists in the midst of all these beautiful flowers... more than 450 repurposed books were used as part of the 2013 White House decor too! Take a peek.
Recently Tana Leigh was kind enough to take the time to send over photos and answer my questions.
White House roses prior to paint
While I knew I wanted to incorporate paper flowers into my wedding for a romantic, personal feel, there was a problem... I had never attempted to make one. A few months before the big day, I sat down with online tutorials and the recommended crepe, tissue, and construction papers... well, needless to say, my dining room looked like a high school prom from an 80s movie! I wanted a realistic look that would photograph well regardless of lighting conditions, so I scrapped everything and started fresh creating my own intricate designs from premium paper.
White House garlands prior to paint
Did you formally study art and design or is your talent a natural one?
I've always been the creative type (actress, songwriter, DIYer), so without formal fine art training I resorted to the next best thing(s): patience, problem solving, an eye for standout chic -- and coffee.
The White House roses look huge! Did you use gold paper or were they painted?
We made 50 large stem roses ranging from 18 - 28 inches in diameter which were displayed in the entryway and on mantels and trees. We also produced over 200 feet of handcrafted paper holly flora and 400 3-inch roses on 12-inch stems. Once at the warehouse where the White House decorations are stored, we collaborated with David Beahm and coated the blooms with gold spray paint that was enhanced by splashes of gold glitter.
Making and storing such large flowers at home with young children must have been tricky... how did you manage?
Given the enormity of the workload (typically 3-4 month production time), I knew I needed to work around the clock in order to meet my tight deadline of only 5 weeks. Instead of working out of my midtown Manhattan studio, my assistants and I set up a home studio where we could produce and store the flora. A challenge with two toddlers? Absolutely, but I was able to be there for them and still take advantage of crafting during nap time; a win/win for everyone.
What's next for you? Any upcoming weddings or special events?
Bohemian Bloom has several very exciting projects coming in the new year....stay tuned!