As soon as Hannah Read-Baldrey’s latest book, Flowerbomb!, popped through my letterbox I knew I had to share it with you (and with all this snow, there's no better time). Entitled Flowerbomb, it’s every bit as colourful and exploding with florals as the title suggests. Filled with flower DIYs to incorporate into your bathroom, kitchen and wardrobe, there’s so many wonderful things I want to make. Hannah also explains how to press flowers, and the meanings behind some of your favourite blooms - this book is educational as well as beautiful! Here to tell you more about it and how the book came to life is the lady herself. Don’t forget to scroll to the end to find out how to win your very own copy of the book...
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself…
I am a bestselling craft author (four books in), presenter and stylist. I run the blog CoutureCraft.co.uk and host the @couturecraft Instagram feed. You may have seen me on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas at the end of the year, or in lots of Hobbycraft how-to videos. I studied Theatre Design at Central St Martins and have been making things since I could pick up a paint brush, pair of scissors and glue.
Why flowers? I mean, why not, I love flowers, but what do flowers mean to you?
I have been in love with flowers since I can remember, from making daisy chains as a young child to choosing the peonies and wildflowers for my wedding bouquet. Their beauty seems to be endless and the joy they bring immeasurable. My mother studied botany and over the years has attempted to teach me the names and meanings of an array of flowers; her appreciation has well and truly rubbed off on me.
Do you have a favourite flower?
Yes, a Julia Rose peony. If she was a person, she would be a total show-off and a terrible flirt.
What’s your favourite season?
I was born in the summer, but I love the spring. It’s always such a relief when the crocuses and daffodils start springing up out of the winter grass with their bright pops of colour.
When did you decide that you wanted to write a book dedicated to flowers and the art of using them in crafting?
The idea had been boiling for a long time, but it originally started as a more bohemian book. I love approaching craft books from a multi-craft angle as I think they are more accessible to people who simply love making. I am hugely influenced by fashion and there are always so many amazing couture floral pieces out there each summer from Dolce and Gabbana, Vivetta and Versace. So the first project I started with was the Flower Bomb-er Jacket.
How long was the process from start to finish?
This book took quite a long time, two years. By the time it had been commissioned it was too late to release it in the same year. Also, as I write, make, style and then illustrate my books, I’m a little unusual - most authors won’t be involved in that entire process. But for me it means the book is totally my work, which I love.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to write and get a book published?
Firstly, create a list of ideas. Every time I chat with a publisher, I have a handful. Remember only 1% of book proposals get published, so widen your odds. Research which publishers produce the type of book you want to get published. To this point, I’ve worked in craft and a bit of baking and I know who the commissioning editors are for each publishing house - you can research this by looking at the credits inside the covers of books that you like. Lots of the big publishing houses won’t take unsolicited scripts, this means if you don’t have an agent, you’re not getting in. I have always managed to work without an agent as I have my own close relationships with my editors, but if you are coming to it fresh, it may be a good idea to seek one. Don’t lose faith. It takes forever to get a response, sometimes, it can even be months. With my first book Everything Alice, Christine and I made a beautiful blad (sample book) and sent it out to all the publishers we could find who produced craft books. 90% rejected it. They called it “a passion project”, “never going to sell” etc. Luckily for us, we did find a publisher who loved it and it was an international bestseller. Bet they were kicking themselves afterwards!
For any craft newbies, which DIY would you recommend they start with?
I always say, go visit a craft store or look online at craft blogs and find something that sparks your imagination. It’s totally down to the individual. Start small, but do start. If you want to try knitting, try a hat, not a jumper straight away. If you want to try calligraphy, practice each letter. If you want to do cross stitch, try getting a mini embroidery hoop pattern, not a giant scene!
Can you share a random flower fact with me…
I once styled a birthday party for Mark Owen from Take That’s girlfriend (now wife) on a barge in London. I had the most surreal day driving him around in my cream MINI searching for props for a Heaven and Hell party!
Hannah has kindly given me a copy of Flowerbomb to give away. To enter, follow Hannah on Instagram here and comment below to confirm you have done so. The competition closes on Friday 9th of March at midnight (GMT).