It’s no secret that NJ is home to countless artists. Many of these creators find inspiration through a passion for art that drives them to create; no matter if it’s in the kitchen, a pottery studio, or even their garage. Our series, I HeART New Jersey, celebrates these amazing artists and their designs. This month, we’re featuring some of the Garden State’s best makers who work with paper; from creating hand-bound books to unique crepe flowers, and even repurposing old pieces of magazine as wall art.

For the most part, these creators perfect their craft and sell their wares out of their own boutiques; often through the power of the internet or even in local markets. Here are just a few of our favorite local artists working their magic with paper; turning it into pieces of art that are beyond the expected. (If you missed last month’s I HeART New Jersey, click here to see more great artists.)

Sandra Gaestel of Harley Rose Studio

I Heart New Jersey Paper ArtistsWe all love flowers, but there’s something upsetting a few days later when they just don’t look the same. But thanks to Sandra Gaestel, you never have to worry about that again! She creates beautiful and extremely realistic artwork. Originally starting as custom coffee filter flower designs for weddings, Gaestel now owns Harley Rose Studio; a business that produces a must-see collection of unique crepe paper flowers.

Growing up with an artistic mom and a respect for nature, Sandra began bringing that same focus to her artwork; teaching herself how to “create blooms that mimic actual live flowers” was just the start. Harley Rose designs are made of German crepe paper, then naturally dyed with other live flowers, avocados, and beets; they are then painted with chalk or paint. Once the final touches are complete, her flowers look like the real thing. (Possibly even more beautiful than – dare I say it – Mother Nature.)

These finished flower designs then become head-turning floral combs, flower crowns and cake toppers; of course, they can also be put into bouquets to brighten your day (day after day).

Harley Rose Studio items are available online and at various markets.


Leah Passafiume of Leah Gae Press

I Heart New Jersey Paper Artists

There’s nothing quite like receiving a journal, especially one that has been hand bound right in New Jersey. Leah Passafiume does just that, creating handmade journals and sketchbooks that are just as visually beautiful as they are textural.

Each book is made with a Davey Board that’s cut to size; then wrapped in an array of fabrics using a PH neutral acid free glue. The journal is finally filled with drawing paper, then bound together using techniques including Coptic Stich or Case Bind. Leah single-handedly makes whatever you decide to put in your book, much, much cooler.

In addition to hand-bound books, Leah also creates imaginative prints with whimsical sayings like “Good Morning Sunshine” on them; spelled out in eye-catching characters, these pieces of art will make you feel good every time you see them.

Leah Gae Press items are available online and at various markets.


Tamara Woronczuk

I Heart New Jersey Paper ArtistsAt first glance, Tamara Woronczuk’s artwork is stunning. However, it’s not until you look a bit deeper that you realize just how captivating her pieces truly are. Each piece of her artwork is composed of small, torn pieces of recycled texts, phone books, and even sheet music; giving it a 3D component that is unexpectedly intriguing.

From a white egret in the bay off Fisher Boulevard in Toms River to an elephant at the Tampa Zoo, and even a Victoria Crowned Pigeon from the Cape May Zoo, Woronczuk’s art takes inspiration from animals she has photographed in the past. She is able to transform paper through paint, stamps, and stencils; tearing the pieces and then gluing them onto painted canvas using a “kind of mosaic style approach.”

Woronczuk’s love of paper as an art element began at a young age. As a child, she would play with leftover paper scraps that her father brought home from leftover printing jobs. After retiring as a teacher of 40 years, she now dedicates her time working on mixed media paintings; she is always experimenting with new techniques and developing new skills.

Tamara Woronczuk’s artwork can be purchased online.


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