13 Oct The Complete Guide to Making Paper Flowers
Do you want to learn how to make whimsical or lifelike paper flowers? If you do, you came to the right place. I’ve outlined a comprehensive guide to paper flower making. You can make almost any flower out of paper. The designs range from fun and imaginative to elegant and realistic. Paper flowers are a great substitute for real flowers because they are significantly cheaper and they will last longer because well…..they are made of paper! Also, your friends and family will be impressed with the thought and effort you put into making a flower instead of simply buying one from the store. I’ve included some great links to the best DIY paper flower tutorials at the end of this article.
History of Paper Flowers
I only recently discovered the art form of making paper flowers. Therefore, I was surprised that paper flower making is actually one of the most popular crafting art forms that date back centuries ago. According to the Old Testament Book of Kings, Queen of Shelba asked Solomon to determine which of the 12 lilies were not real. Solomon was able to identify the real flowers by watching which flower the insects would land on. Over 2,000 years ago, China made many crafts out of paper such as paper lanterns, paper fans, paper cut art pieces and of course, the paper flower. The paper flowers were used in religious ceremonies as offerings to the deceased and for meditation purposes. In the Middle Ages, silk, paper and metal flowers were used to decorate alters and statues. In the warmer seasons, real flowers were used. There was an entire industry of paper flower making, which was led by Italy. By the 1800’s, France became well known for making artificial flowers because of their dominance in fashion. The French used paper flowers as decorations for clothing, hats and other accessories. It’s obvious that people many years ago saw the countless uses for paper flowers, but why should we make paper flowers?
The Many Uses for Paper Flowers
Whether you are a beginner crafter or an expert paper artist, making paper flowers is a great art form that has many exciting uses. I’ve made a list of cool things you can do with paper flowers:
- Decorate your home with floral arrangements that last forever
- Make a heartfelt paper flower for the love of your life for Valentine’s Day or their birthday
- Impress mom by making a paper flower and giving it to her for Mother’s day
- Spruce up a party(birthday, bridal shower, baby shower) by placing paper flowers on tables and walls
- Embellish a wrapped gift
- Create barrettes, head bands, and other accessories
- Brighten up a wedding by making giant flower decorations or delicate flowers to garnish a wedding cake
- Make simple flowers as art projects for kids
- Add color to your car interior with colorful paper flowers that don’t die or require water
- Sell paper flowers on etsy.com or to your local market; it’s amazing how much paper flowers cost…just do a quick search on etsy.com
The list goes on and on. Why do you want to make a paper flower?
Materials For Making Paper Flowers
Depending on what kind of flower you will be making, you will need different materials. For example, a rose will typically require a flatter and more rigid paper while a carnation will use a softer and thinner paper. The material you use for your flower will also determine how realistic your flower will look. Some materials are more expensive than others, so if you are just starting or if you are making many flowers, you may want to use a cheaper material. Also, you may want to use a cheaper material if you are making paper flowers with kids. If you are really trying to impress someone or make something that looks ultra-realistic, your materials will most likely be more expensive. There are numerous techniques for making paper flowers but here is a general list of materials that are commonly used.
- Printer paper or regular colored paper: This is the most common and accessible. You can make flowers directly from some printable templates.
- Card stock: This is of course my favorite material since I make all of my pop-up cards card stock. You can use card stock for flowers with rigid petals like roses, orchids, tulips and bird of paradise flowers.
- Crepe paper: This is surprisingly hard to find and comes in many different qualities. You can stretch crepe paper and worked it into many shapes. Therefore, crepe paper is great for flower petals because most petals have a curvature to them and you can work the curvature into the paper. Crepe paper comes in large sheets so it is used to make giant flowers. Crepe paper typically comes in standard (60 gsm), heavy (100 gsm) and Extra heavy (180 gsm) thicknesses. The heavier the paper is, the more you can shape it. Party streamers are made of crepe paper and are typically 60 gsm. If you buy crepe paper online, many suppliers are overseas so delivery can take a while. The best quality crepe paper you can buy domestically is Lia Griffith’s paper.
- Foam core sheets: Foam sheets are great for flowers that have more rigid petals like a calla lily.
- Coffee filters: These make great materials because they are soft, thin and when painted, make great colorful designs because the colors bleed through the paper.
- Metallic paper: Metallic paper is can have different thicknesses but the main reason it is used is because it gives off a subtle shine. If you want a realistic looking flower, use metallic paper. It’s also the most expensive material.
- Wafer paper: Wafer paper is an edible material used to make flowers that you can eat and is used for making cake decorations.
- Felt: You can make soft flower petals with felt. I find it a little hard to work with unless you have very sharp scissors.
- Floral wire: Make flower stems with floral wire. You can buy them pre-cut or wound in a roll. They also come in different thicknesses or gauges. The lower the number, the thicker the wire. For example, 18 gauge wire is thicker than 22 gauge wire. Thicker wires usually come precut. For most flowers, 22 gauge wire is adequate. If you need something really rigid, or if you make a flower with a very long stem, then you may want to use a thicker wire (18-20 gauge).
- Floral tape: Floral tape is really one of the key items that was created specifically for flowers. Floral tape is stretchy, and has a coating of a weak wax based adhesive. It only sticks to itself and is water resistant. You can also wrap live flowers for this reason. You will use floral tape to attach flowers to stems and to wrap floral wire.
- Pipe Cleaners: Use pipe cleaners for flower stems, typically for children’s projects.
- Clay or play dough: Use clay or play dough to make the thick spadix in the center of calla lilies.
- Pom poms: Use pom poms for the center of simple flowers.
Tools Used For Making Paper Flowers
Just like materials, there are many different tools you can use to make paper flowers. The type of flower you plan to make will determine which tool to use. You can substitute many of these tools for everyday objects you can find in your home. Here is a list of common tools for making paper flowers:
- Scissors: Use scissors to cut out petals and other details of a flower.
- X-acto knife: You may need a sharp knife to cut out intricate designs that you are unable to use a pair of scissors for.
- Glue: There are many types of glues you can use. Faster setting glues are more desirable since many flower tutorials require you to hold a petal in a certain position until the glue dries.
- Hot Glue Gun: This is a great glue to use because it sets very quickly. There are different levels of quality hot glue guns. The cheaper ones tend to leak hot glue in between uses. The more expensive ones have gun-like triggers that allow you to precisely control the amount of glue applied.
- Foam tape or stickers: Use foam tape or stickers in place of glue if you want something to stick immediately. Foam tape is great to stick objects to the center of flowers to give it a 3-dimensional look.
- Tweezers: Tweezers will help you handle very delicate pieces. You may not need them if your flowers are large enough to work with your fingertips.
- Wire cutter: Cut floral wire with wire cutters . If you have precut floral wire, you wouldn’t need a wire cutter. If you don’t have a wire cutter, you can use an old pair of nail clippers. However, don’t use your scissors because you will damage them.
- Embossing tool: Embossing tools are great tools to help you fold card stock. You can probably get away with using a toothpick or pen with no ink.
- Bone folder: You can use bone folders to make creases in flower leaves. You can probably use a butter knife or any utensil that is not sharp.
Paper Flower Tutorials
I picked out the top 11 most commonly made paper flowers and researched the best free tutorials on how to make them. If you want to learn how to make a paper flower, then take a look at the links below. For each flower, I have compiled between 3 to 5 different tutorials varying in different levels of difficulty. Some tutorials may be harder, but the flower will look more realistic. These tutorials are perfect for making hair accessories or one-off gift decorations. However, if you plan on making many flowers, for example, to decorate an entire wall or for many centerpieces, then you may want to choose an easier tutorial.
- Roses: Roses symbolize love and are perfect for Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, weddings and birthdays for that special someone.
- Daisy: Daisies signify innocence and are simple to make with kids.
- Sunflower: Sunflowers can brighten anyone’s day and reminds us of the warmth of summer.
- Orchids: Orchids are delicate and denote beauty and luxury. They make wonderful decorations for gifts and hair accessories.
- Calla Lilly: Calla Lilies are elegant and simple and work well for modern decorations. If you want to make a lot of flowers for an event or party, then calla lilies are great to make.
- Tulips: Tulips represent springtime and are another easy flower to make with children.
- Stargazer Lily: Stargazer lilies are great for bouquets and work well with other flowers.
- Iris: Iris’ suggest purity and are one of the most beautiful blue or violet flowers.
- Bird of Paradise: If you want to make a tropical themed flower, the Bird of Paradise is your best bet.
- Carnation: Carnations are easily recognized, fun to make and are also great for Mother’s day and Valentine’s day.
- Lotus: Lotus flowers imply compassion, love, purity and rebirth. They are the most spiritual flower.
Paper flower making is one of the most common paper crafts. You will find endless ways to use paper flowers and the ideas will keep flowing. The best time to make paper flowers is for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. You can show your true love how much you care by making a flower that will last forever. Try any of the tutorials in the links above to learn how to make a wide variety of flowers. You can even customize the flowers to give it your own personal flare. I had a lot of fun making these flowers and I can now incorporate some of these ideas into the pop up cards that I make. I have decorated the front of my pop up cards with some of these paper flowers for added detail. Now you can make the ultimate gift of a bouquet of handmade flowers with an amazing pop up card. If you found any of this information useful, please comment below and share this link.