paper flowers for springtime
This weekend, I taught a workshop on how to make paper flowers at Mohonk Mountain House for their Girlfriend's Getaway Weekend. In a little under an hour, everyone made at least one lovely, unique crepe paper flower—and many of the students made several.
The Victorian setting of this "castle on a lake" resort was perfect for this easy craft project, which was a traditional craft in 19th century Europe. The room filled with peonies and roses and poppies and bright pops of greenery and, with the light rustle of paper petals and lots of laughter, we almost forgot the late winter snow outside.
Paper Flower Supplies
For these paper flowers, we used special German-made crepe paper by Lia Griffith. This paper has unique properties, different from the crepe paper carried by most stores for streamer decorations. One pack of extra fine crepe paper gives you enough paper for hundreds of these flowers.
You'll also need floral tape. Lia Griffith makes this tape in several colors, though any standard floral tape will do. For this project, we used roughly 12 inches of standard forest green tape per flower.
This 50-pack of green floral wire also yields roughly 100 flowers, because you can cut each 16-inch wire in half for an 8-inch stem.
Tacky Glue is my favorite brand of craft glue. You need less than a teaspoon for one flower.
Needle-nose, or long-nose, pliers aren't essential for this project but they are good to have in your craft arsenal. If you plan to make lots of flowers, I recommend getting a pair. If you don't have a pair for this project, I've included a substitute trick in the instructions below.
Paper Flower Template
Flower Patterns Key
A. Poppy petal
B. Dogwood petal
C. Pointy leaf
D. Center fringe
E. Covering for ball center
F. Tall leaf
G. Chrysanthemum leaf
H. Snowdrop petal
To make a simple poppy, you'll need:
For the stem
One 8-inch floral wire
One 12-inch strip of floral tape
For the petals
Two strips of crepe paper, each 4 inches wide and 19.6 inches long (the full length of the paper). Cut these length-wise so the grain of the paper is vertical. I recommend choosing two complimentary colors, like light pink and peach or white and ivory.
For the flower center (or stamen)
One strip of crepe paper, 1 inch wide and 4 inches long, cut length-wise so the grain of the paper is vertical. I recommend choosing a color that contrasts your petals, like plum or cranberry or rose red.
For the leaves
One strip of green crepe paper, 4 inches wide and 8 inches long, cut vertically.
Print-out of "Flower Patterns" template
Glue (Tacky Glue or any white glue)
See how-to photos below these instructions.
From the "Flower Patterns" template above, cut out shapes A, C, and D.
Fold both pieces of your petal crepe papers in half, then in half again.
Lay shape A over your folded petal papers and either trace the shape in pen or just cut around it. You should end up with 8 petals (four in each color).
Holding one petal, put your thumbs in the center of and fingers behind it. The grain of the paper should run parallel with your thumbs. Press with your thumbs and stretch the paper outward with your fingers. This gives each petal a natural-looking, 3-D curve.
With your pliers, create a small loop at one end of the floral wire. It should resemble a miniature shepard's hook. If you don't have needle-nosed pliers, you can simply curl the wire around a pencil or some thin, round object.
Lay shape D over your flower center strip of paper. Make small snips down the long side of the paper to create a fringe. (The template shape D shows how deep to make the cuts.)
Dab a very small amount of glue along the opposite length of the flower center strip (the side you did not snip).
Lay the hook of your floral wire stem at one end of the flower center strip, over the glued area.
Roll/wrap your flower center strip around the hook, pinching as you go to adhere the paper and glue. The fringed edge should remain free. When you finish, it should resemble a paper tassel or a stamen of a flower.
Dab a scant amount of glue at the base of one petal. Add it to the outside of the stamen so that the petal extends a half an inch beyond the fringe. (It's okay to trim the stamen if you would like it to be shorter.)
Adhere the next petal slightly to the right of the previous one and repeat these steps, spiraling around the stamen center, until you've used up all the petals. (You can choose to alternate colors or use one petal color on the inside and one petal color on the outside.)
Lay shape C over your green paper and cut out your leaves. I recommend three leaves. Adhere your leaves in a similar manner, applying them to the base of the flower you have just created. These look nice when placed asymmetrically: two on one side and one on the other, but be as creative as you like!
To finish the flower, place the top of the floral tape strip against the base of your flower. Wrap it around the stem at the top, using the warmth of your fingers to activate the sticky wax coating of the floral paper. Once it is sticky and adhering to the base of your flower and leaves, hold the tape downward at a 45-degree angle to the wire stem and then twirl and stretch the tape around the stem to cover the wire all the way to the bottom.The action is like making a candy cane and the tape should become sticky as you work with it to wrap the stem.
Voila! Your flower is complete. You can bend, ruffle, and stretch the petals, leaves, and stamen more for a fuller, more natural look.
Ideas for Using Paper Flowers
Paper flowers are really cute on a wrapped gift, in an old glass bottle or bud vase, as a table arrangement at a bridal shower, tucked here and there behind a frame on a wall, as a Mother's Day Gift with a quote or message on a tag, or as part of a big bouquet for a hostess gift or get-well present.
They would also be lovely wrapped around a ponytail-holder in your hair or tucked behind your ear with a barrette or bobby pin. You can clip the stem short and tuck it in a bun as well.
The art and history of paper flowers goes back thousands of years, according to a recent article in Architectural Digest. The craft has been popular in China, Mexico, and Europe for centuries. It's an easy craft to update and the results are so pretty and gratifying.
Paper snowdrops I made last week.