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Paper lanterns and a Summer Christmas aesthetic.

Lanterns are magical because they shine like our souls. Our true selves. When we let our true selves shine, we glow, and all our beauty becomes visible.

The whole idea of starting Botanic Mystic began with creating lanterns. I have always loved creating lanterns and lights out of paper and found objects. I loved exploring this in the set of Of Frogs, a music and vocal based performance I co-created with Ria Soemardjo in September 2022 which used vessels as lanterns with water.

Then while in Bandung , Indonesia, later that year and into 2023 working on a theatre project I delved into exploring leaf and plant rubbings on tracing paper, creating designs with rubbings then colouring them with inks and watercolour pens. This is something I used to do with my kids, using beeswax crayons to capture the fine details of leaves. But using this as a base for a design then taking it further with inks and watercolours was a new thing and I became obsessed, spending each moment I could doing them. Often friends would join me.

Having this as a focus was very helpful for me during this time surrounded by many people, as I can become quickly overwhelmed with lots of people around!

Making the designs was so calming for me, it was a way to unwind after rehearsals, and to connect with children and friends who loved to join me doing rubbings, drawing and colouring, and to pay attention to the details of the leaves as i did the rubbings then coloured them became a meditation.

Then my friend Osi Presepti, a crafter and project manager from Studio Jamus in Bandung, collaborated with me to turn my drawings into lanterns. We created lanterns for Christmas, along with many handmade Christmas decorations, and then explored even further lantern making from my artworks on transparent paper. You can see this gorgeous woman in the photo above. I started to get so many ideas about lanterns! As theatre sets, installation, and as something I could share with the public through selling them. 

When I returned to Australia I continued this practice of designing with leaf rubbings, using pens, inks, watercolours and acrylics to build up designs. In between my theatre projects and working on scripts, I opened my Etsy shop Botanic Mystic in May 2023.

These designs then became the basis of printmaking.

I turned these designs into t-shirts, phone cases, many things! I wanted to explore different products with these designs using print of demand to start with, as I learnt about the whole new world of having an online shop.

But hand making things is really what I love. Now that I have set up my shop, and have some beautiful designs I am proud of, I am coming back to paper lantern making. I enjoy it,  especially as we have complete control over the quality of the items we create. With print on demand we just don’t.

Bottlebrush. Unique and vibrant crimson flowers, perfect for the Australian summertime Christmas, or Christmas anywhere in a warm climate as opposed to the European winter aesthetic usually seen.

Also, in tandem with making lanterns, I started headdress making, another thing which I have always loved doing in the home, for parties and fun. So, here we are with our lantern and headdresses offerings for Christmas, alongside some other Christmas décor which matches with a distinctly Australian flavour.

The colours capture a sense of the vibrancy of our summer, while at the same time still with a cozy warm glow.  The bottle brush flower is in full bloom as we approach Christmas, and it’s lovely vibrant red is alive and buzzes with a sense of celebration. 

Christmas is a good place to start, but there are many more coming, botanical designs for lanterns and headdresses, made in quality paper and card.

And may your light shine bright this Christmas time.

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