Perfect for spring, these pretty paper peonies will make a wonderful addition to your party decorations, and are a fun project too!
Skill Level: Advanced
Skills required (see the end of post):
Note: Dimensions are height x length and Paper grain is vertical
You will need:
- Bamboo skewer
- 60gsm crepe paper in sweet-pea
- 180gsm crepe paper strip in ivy green
- 60gsm crepe paper strip in light green
- 60gsm crepe paper in light green
- Glue stick
- Flower 19 templates (see the end of post)
- 18-gauge wire
- Parafilm tape in white
- PVA glue
- Cut 14 strips of sweet-pea paper, each 7 x 27 cm (2¾ x 10¾ in). Bleach the top 2–3 cm (¾–1¼ in) of the long edge of each strip, one at a time. Allow to dry.
- Cut three pieces of sweet-pea paper, each 50 x 27 cm (20 x 10¾ in). Paste all three sheets together using the glue stick. Use a minimal amount of glue to avoid discolouration. Allow to dry.
- Take one strip of the bleached sweet-pea paper and fold it in half three times. Place template A on top of the paper, aligning the bleached edge with the top of the template. Cut around the template to create eight petals.
- Stack four petals on top of each other so that they are perfectly aligned. Curl and cup the petals. Repeat with the remaining four petals.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining paper strips to make 104 more petals.
- Cut six pieces of 18-gauge wire, each 6 cm (2½ in) long. Wrap the entire length of each stem with parafilm tape.
- Pinch the bottom 1 cm (½ in) of a petal, then attach the pinched section to the end of a stem using parafilm tape.
- Attach 11 petals around the base of the first petal using parafilm tape, distributing the petals evenly around the top 1 cm (½ in) of the stem.
- Repeat this process to make five more florets using the remaining short wires. Gently bend each floret at the base.
- Cut three pieces of wire, each 25 cm (10 in) long. Bunch them together, then wrap the entire length of the stem with parafilm tape.
- Using parafilm tape, attach 12 petals to one end of the long stem (as for steps 7–8). Then attach the six florets evenly around the centre, 1.5 cm (½ in) below the base of the petals.
- Attach the remaining single petals around the flower centre, so they cover the bases of the florets.
- Using the pasted sweet-pea paper sheet, cut ten petals with template B. Use the edge cut-out technique on two or three petals.
- Curl and cup the petals, then pinch the bottom 2 cm (¾ in) of each petal.
- Layer 1: Using parafilm tape, attach five of the petals evenly around the base of the flower centre.
- Wrap the thin section of the flower stem with ivy-green paper strip to thicken it. Then wrap the entire length of the stem with light-green paper strip, securing with PVA glue.
- Cut two pieces of wire, each 15 cm (6 in) long. Wrap the entire length of each stem with light-green paper strip, securing with PVA glue.
- Using light-green paper, cut six leaves with template C.
- Using PVA glue, attach the first leaf to one end of a stem. Cover the base of the leaf with light-green paper strip.
- Attach two leaves, 2 cm (¾ in) below the base of the first leaf, on opposite sides of the stem. Cover the leaf joints with light-green paper strip. Gently bend the stem.
- Repeat steps 20 and 21 to make a second sprig of leaves.
- Using parafilm tape, attach the bottom 7 cm (2¾ in) of one sprig of leaves to the flower stem, about 10 cm (4 in) below the base of the flower. Cover the tape with light-green paper strip.
- Attach the bottom 7 cm (2¾ in) of the remaining sprig of leaves to the flower stem, 2 cm (¾ in) below the first sprig. Cover the tape with light-green paper strip.
- Gently push the large petals down to open up the flower. Bend the flower stem to create a natural look.
- Stem wrapping with crepe paper strip: In this book, we use two different weights of crepe paper to make strips: 180gsm and 60gsm. The 180gsm paper strip is used to thicken the flower stem, whereas the 60gsm paper strip is used to wrap the stem for finishing. Note that these strips are not the same as the crepe paper ‘streamers’ you can buy from party suppliers, which are usually wider. When cutting strips from a roll of crepe paper, make sure you cut across the grain and maintain a consistent width. Keep the length of your working strip to a 30 cm (12 in) maximum, especially if you are new to flower making.To wrap a stem, first, apply a small amount of PVA glue to one end of the stem, then attach one end of the paper strip. Hold the top of the stem with your thumb and index finger, while pressing the length of the stem against your palm with your pinkie and ring fingers. Wrap the paper strip around the stem in a downward spiral, stretching the paper gently in the process. Wrap until the stem is completely covered, then cut away the excess paper. Secure the end of the strip with PVA glue.
- Stem wrapping with tape: I prefer to use parafilm tape rather than florist tape, as parafilm tape is non-sticky and a lot easier to work with. Unless otherwise specified, the projects in this book use green parafilm tape. Both florist tape and parafilm tape adhere by stretching, so stretch gently as you go. If this is your first time working with these tapes, it is best to cut them into short working strips of 20–25 cm (8–10 in). To wrap a stem, first, cover the top of the stem with tape. Hold the top of the stem with your thumb and index finger, while pressing the length of the stem against your palm with your pinkie and ring fingers. Wrap the tape around the stem in a downward spiral, stretching the tape gently in the process. Wrap until the stem is completely covered, then tear off the excess tape. To secure the end of the tape, gently apply pressure around the bottom of the stem. This technique is the most essential and challenging skill in flower making, so allow yourself plenty of time to practise. Once you have mastered this method, flower making will be a breeze.
- Attaching petals/leaves with tape: Use your thumb and index finger to secure the petal or leaf between the wire stem and the parafilm tape. Gently stretch the tape with your other hand, while wrapping the tape around the stem once. Tear off the excess tape, then apply pressure to secure the tape to the stem. Continue attaching the petals/leaves, tearing off the tape after each layer. If you are new to flower making, I recommend attaching one petal at a time. Once you are familiar with this technique, you can try securing multiple petals with one piece of tape.
- Attaching petals/leaves with PVA glue: Using a toothpick, dab a small amount of PVA glue onto the bottom 5–10 mm (¼–½ in) of the petal or leaf. Place the base of the petal/leaf against the stem and gently apply pressure to secure. (To get the dried glue off your fingers without having to constantly wash your hands, apply hand lotion, then wipe it off using a dry towel.)
- Cutting shapes with templates: The templates in this book are actual size, and the two lines on each template show the direction of the paper grain. If you are new to flower making, I suggest cutting out one shape at a time using your templates. Once you have gained more control, you can cut multiple shapes at once by folding or stacking several pieces of paper together. When doing this, use a bulldog clip to secure the template to the layers of paper while cutting, moving the clip as you go.
- Paper pasting: This technique is used when crepe paper needs to be thickened before use. Using a glue stick, cover the entire surface of one sheet with glue; use a minimal amount of glue to avoid discolouration. Place the second sheet on top of the first, making sure that the paper grain and edges are perfectly aligned. Use your palm to press the paper flat, smoothing the surface and securing the sheets together. Allow the paper to dry completely before cutting (this may take up to 30 minutes).
- Curling: In this book, we curl using a bamboo skewer. However, curling can also be done using a pen or the end of a paintbrush. To curl a petal, hold the bottom of the petal with your thumb and index finger. Hold the bamboo skewer in your other hand. Place the middle of the petal between the skewer and your thumb, then gently draw the skewer outwards, curling the petal in the process.
- Cupping: Grasp the centre of the petal with both of your thumbs and index fingers. Press your thumbs against the paper while gently stretching outwards, so that the petal forms a concave shape. If you are new to flower making, I suggest cupping one petal at a time. Once you have mastered this skill, you can cup multiple petals at once by stacking several petals together.
- Bleaching: When using bleach, always work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective equipment if necessary. First, dilute the bleach in water to the desired concentration — I usually use one part bleach to seven parts water. Dip a section of the paper in the diluted bleach. Allow the paper to dry completely before cutting (this may take several hours). Be aware that different products have different concentrations, so always test on scrap paper first to achieve the desired colour.
Flowersmith by Jennifer Tram (Hardie Grant, £16.99) Photography © Jennifer Tran