This year I thought it was about time I finally got organized and joined in with the Instagram challenge #MarchMeetTheMaker.  It's something I mean to do every year, and then never quite get round to, but it's a fantastic way of showcasing a little bit more of the maker behind small businesses.

One of the early prompts in the challenge is 'How I Started', and I realized there's way too many stories to fit into one Instagram post there!  So here I am, taking a trip down memory lane to tell you all about how I started.

If you've read the 'About Us' page, you'll already know how Ta Muchly came to be more recently.  But in various forms, my handmade business has been around since my Primary School days.  Back when I was about 9 years old, I was obsessed with making 3D Decoupage greetings cards.  I had all the papers, and sticky foam pads coming out of my ears!  Not the sort of hobby you'd expect most 9 year olds to be into, but what can I say, I've always been a stationery geek, and nothing has changed 25 years later.  I'm pretty sure my mum used to hide the paper catalogues so I couldn't beg her to buy me any more too!  My 3D Decoupage hobby actually paid off though, and one of my proudest moments was at my first craft fair when the Head Master from my then Primary School bought three cards to give to his family at Christmas!

As you've probably guessed by now, my designs have become a little more 'refined' since those days, over the years I’ve dabbled in all sorts of different crafts.  For a while I focused on hand-painted canvases and artwork, I’ve attempted almost every paper craft there is (side note, origami is NOT my strong point), tried my hand at graphic design, and even gave knitting and crochet a go too.  But ultimately, it’s those paper crafts that you see here on this site - paper cuts, mandalas and paper flowers which proved to be my favourites.  Annoyingly, I don’t actually remember where the initial inspiration came from for each of these products - yep I have a TERRIBLE memory.  Honestly, I have to watch a film at least three times before I could even tell you what it’s about!!

Early mandala and paper flowers


For the paper flowers, I really couldn’t tell you where my initial idea to give them a try came from.  Writing this, I wracked my brain for hours, but I’ve got nothing!  So instead, I’ll tell you about the things I do remember!  My very first paper flower was a peony (see below), made from the only crepe paper I could find!  At the time I was living in Dubai and art materials were extremely hard to come by, crepe paper even more so.  The only crepe I could find was closer to a party streamer than the Heavyweight Italian and German specialty paper I use today, but it was a good place to start!  After making that very first peony, I was hooked.  I do remember later that night my husband (AKA The Boy) coming home from a night out, and being so in awe that I had created something so beautiful just from paper, when all he’d done was get drunk!  (Infact, thanks to Instagram I have the exact conversation!)  I’m pretty sure it was just the alcohol talking, but either way it was enough to spur me on to make more flowers, and so begun my paper flower journey.  A few months later during a trip home to the UK, I stocked up on “Proper” crepe paper, and spent the next year practicing and perfecting my flowers.

First Peony


I often get asked what templates or courses I use for my flowers, but in all honesty - I don’t.  When I first started out I bought the book “The Fine Art of Paper Flowers” by Tiffany Turner, and started to work my way through her designs.  But by the third or fourth flower, I soon realized I’m not very good at following instructions, and so I started to tweak and change parts to be my own style.  From there I stopped referring to the book, and started to look at as many real flowers as I could, and now that’s how I create all of my designs.  Sometimes I’ll make myself a card template, but alot of the time I just wing it.  None of my flowers are identical, but that’s how I like it as they’re closer to the real thing.

The first paper flower bouquet


My first attempt at paper cutting came when we were planning our wedding, back in 2015.  After many hours spent trawling Pinterest for wedding invite inspiration, I quickly decided that they would involve some kind of cut out lace detailing to match the style of the day.  There was never any question if I would make the invites myself, so after a bit of googling, I decided to invest in a Cricut cutting machine.  My justification being all the money we would save by making the invites ourselves…! Yeah right!



After many many hours and weeks of trial and error, I finally had the designs I wanted, each with six sheets featuring cut out details in cream, coral and kraft card, neatly tied together with string.  Each envelope featured a cut out lace liner with our initials in too.  I was SO pleased with myself.  But then just hours later (and I kid you not, this was a mere few hours after finishing EVERY. SINGLE. INVITE), we received the devastating news that our wedding venue had been shut down and everything was cancelled.  Just like that.  It took us several months before we could find another suitable venue, and we ended up pushing back the date by 8 months, which gave me time to remake each invite from scratch.  None of the details were the same, so I had to completely change the design, and ended up cutting this down to just three sheets instead.  Disasters aside though, it all worked out ok in the end, and once again I found myself hooked on a new skill. 

From there I started to play with what else I could make with the cutting machine, and came across the art of paper cutting.  I started to try some basic designs by hand, and it all grew from there.  I designed a few images myself on Adobe Illustrator, printed them out and then started cutting them out with my scalpel.  As I improved I began to add more and more detail to my designs, until they started to resemble the designs you see today.  Most of the paper cuts I sell today are usually 70-90% machine cut, however I almost always have to finish of the finer details by hand to avoid tearing the paper.  While I could cut the entire thing by hand, it just wouldn’t be economically viable as each one would take me weeks!

sleep tight papercut


Finally, on to the mandalas.  Again, I don’t remember where the inspiration came from, but I do actually have a photo of my first ever design!  I captioned that first image as “Trying something new,” I’m not really sure where that idea came from, but I do remember that almost instantly I new that this new skill was for me.  I don’t necessarily buy in to the full spiritual meaning behind mandalas, all I know is that they are a way I can instantly destress, switch off from whatever is going on around me, and just take 5 minutes to myself.  I love the simplicity of the black and white patterns, and the impact they have too.  I draw both original designs which are one of a kind as they’re completely by hand, and prints which I hand drawn on my iPad so that I can reproduce them as limited edition artwork.  Both have their pros and cons, but I love being able to pick up my sketchbook or my iPad and draw away a few hours and forget everything around me.   

First Mandala


Follow along on our March Meet the Maker journey on our instagram page @tamuchly_design

Michelle x

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