Paper flowers are not only a beautiful way to decorate your home, but the process of making them is relaxing and mindful. Try this calla lillies tutorial to get you started.
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Paper flowers are unlike artificial flowers in that they’re not designed to totally mimic the real thing. In fact, they can often be more dainty and artistic than fresh flowers. Plus, there are so many more ways to use them. You could attach them to your wall to make a flower wall or use them as table decorations at events like weddings and birthdays.
Kristen Kong has experienced the benefits of paper flower-making firsthand. She started making them for her wedding to decorate the reception venue. However, when her wedding was cancelled due to lockdown she realised not only how much she enjoyed having the flowers around her house, but how enjoyable the process of making them was.
She started sharing tutorials online with her husband, Lewis, on their YouTube channel, Campbell Workshop, and she has since produced over 40 paper flower tutorials online.
Here she shares her tips for beginners who are interested in making paper creations, as well as her tutorial for making calla lillies, an intricate design that would look beautiful displayed in any home or across tables at events this spring.
What you will need
- Crepe papers in beige, white, yellow and green
- Pastels in nude, magenta, light green and black
- A petal template made from thick card or cardboard
- Floral wire in 26 and 18 gauge
- Flat pliers and wire cutter
- Paper clips
- UHU Glue
- Hot Glue
How to make paper Calla Lilies
1. Wrap your green paper around your gauge wires
Take three pieces of 18 gauge wires. One should be longer than the other two pieces. Tape them together and wrap green crepe paper around them.
2. Cut a piece of yellow crepe paper for the flower centre
Wrap your gauge wire that is covered in green paper with the yellow paper using hot glue. Make sure you leave at least 1.5cm space at the top.
3. Trim the top of the flower centre
Trim your yellow paper to create a pointy tip and add some hot glue at the bottom of the yellow paper to keep it attached.
4. Trim your crepe paper around your petal template
Take your petal template and trim your crepe paper around it. Layer the crepe paper over each other so you have four leaf shapes overall. Use paper clips to hold the crepe paper and the template together and cut around it. Remove the template and you should now have four petals made from cream crepe paper.
5. Colour your petals
Use your brush to add nude, pale pink and magenta pastels to both sides of your petals. Clean your brush, then colour the bottom quarter of the petal with a light green pastel.
6. Attach your petal to your stem
Expand the inner side of the petal using your fingers. Add some UHU glue to the bottom of the flower centre then place the flower centre about 1.5cm above the bottom edge of your yellow stem. Hold the bottom of the petal and twist onto the stem, then pull the side of the petals up.
7. Style the flower
Add some UHU glue to the left side of the petal. Overlap the right side onto the left side and hold it for about 30 seconds. Use the end of your tweezers or paintbrush to expand the bottom of the flower so it looks like a bold shape. Wrap some green crepe paper around the bottom of the petal using UHU glue. Continue to shape the petals gently - you can use a paintbrush to help shape them and you can also trim them if they are overlapping too much.
8. Add some more colour to your flower
Add some green pastel at the bottom of your petal, working it upwards. Add some touches of magenta pastel, using a small brush to add details.
9. Repeat the process to make your white lilies
Repeat step one twice to make two more stems out of gauge wires and take your two leftover crepe paper petals to use as your white lilies. Paint the bottom third of them green and leave the rest white. Then repeat step six to attach them to your stems.
10. Make a small bouquet for your flowers
Trim some long strips of varied thickness (between 5mm and 10mm) from your green crepe paper. Bend the leaves over to create loops and attach them together with UHU glue.
11. Style your bouquet
Attach your green loops to your flowers using a wrapped 26 wire or a ribbon. Style the bouquet however you’d like to!
Kristen’s tips for making beautiful paper flowers
Practise your petal templates
“I normally carry out some experiments before finalising my templates,” Kristen says. “I will use some recycled paper to test things out. But once I think I have the perfect one, then I will copy the template to a piece of corrugated kraft cardboard which is very light, good quality card board.”
Kristen recommends using thick card or cardboard for your templates because this will make them more long-lasting. If you’re trying to make templates for smaller details, drawing paper works well too.
High quality paper is key
“I only use 180g Italian crepe paper in my projects,” Kristen says. Your paper needs to be heavyweight if you’re using pastels to add colour to your designs so it can hold moisture. Prioritise investing in high quality paper if you can.
Beware of sunlight
“Sunlight and heat can discolour the crepe paper,” Kristen explains. “Make sure you store your unused papers in the cupboard.”
It’s best to display your finished flowers out of direct sunlight too.
Choose the right glue for your paper
“A lot of other flower making artists might recommend using PVA as the main adhesive that they use,” Kristen says, explaining that the reason she uses UHU glue instead is because PVA can discolour the crepe paper. UHU is a synthetic resin adhesive, Kristen says, so it won’t cause any discolouring but she does warn against applying too much because, if you do, it will show up on your flowers.
Kristen also uses hot glue for more bulky parts of her flowers which can work well, but she stresses: “Make sure you have preheated the glue properly otherwise it doesn’t glue properly and your flower will fall apart.”
You can read more arts and crafts content at Stylist.co.uk. You can also follow Campbell Workshop on Instagram for more paper flower tutorials.
Kristen Kong, founder of Campbell Workshop
Kristen Kong is a London based mixed media artist and a graduate from the Royal College of Art. She specialises in designing paper flowers inspired by natural beauty, as well as botanical illustrations and paintings. In March 2020, Kristen and her partner Lewis Campbell set up the Campbell Workshop Youtube Channel to share their art and craft skills in the form of online tutorials.