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Six paper flowers

It got into my head that I needed to make some paper flowers. I don’t know why. But I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal because the Internet is a veritable smörgåsbord of craft tutorials, and all I had to do was fire up Lappy 5000 and pick one out.

About 300,000 search results later, I was no longer any more confident in my ability to make a paper flower than I was in my cat’s ability to retrieve his stupid mouse instead of staring at my hand after I throw it.

There were just too many choices and although I could compare the photos, they didn’t reflect (1) how good each tutorial was, (2) how closely my flower would resemble the picture, or (3) which flowers would look nice together. It was terribly overwhelming. I mean, what was I supposed to do, try every single one?

Then again, I thought, if anyone is supposed to try every single one, it might as well be me. At least I could take notes and share them with the world, perhaps saving some other hapless soul from the same overwh…um, overwhelmption. (What’s the right word?) I could make it a mission!

After some consideration, I decided that 300,000 might be a few too many to take on, so I narrowed it down to the six most promising and got to work.

Once I was all finished, I selected the ones that looked the nicest together and made a little arrangement. The two that I left out are also nice, but look best on their own and with others of their kind.

Wow, that sounded kind of racist, didn’t it? I mean, I know I’m just talking about flowers, but… man. Language is crazy. All right, moving on.

Here are the six tutorials I chose and the stunning photographs that originally accompanied them. Each of the original tutorial authors is amazing and generous for sharing them.

Six Great Paper Flower Tutorials

  1. Cupcake liner flowers from Intimate Weddings.
  2. Parchment flowers from Etsy’s How-Tuesday. I got to see these in all their glory this summer, when my friend Pura’s mom made thousands of them of out of colored vellum for Pura’s wedding.
  3. Simple paper flowers, from Creature Comforts
  4. Lovely Kusudama flowers from Folding Trees
  5. Tissue paper carnations, also from Folding Trees
  6. Tissue paper roses from My Juice Cup

And here are the finished flowers, so you can compare my clumsy novice versions with the expert originals, along with my notes.

  1. The cupcake liner flower tutorial is presented beautifully, with all the details you could need. I made some with standard cupcake papers and some with mini (pictured in vase). For me, the only sticky part was crinkling each layer just right without allowing it to follow the curves of the layer before it, especially once I got to the outer layers. It helped to hold all the finished layers tightly closed in my other hand, so the layer I was working on couldn’t possibly know what the previous layer looked like. Of course, cupcake liners have a reputation for being among the cleverest of kitchen-related papers, and a couple of times, they figured it out anyway.
  2. You can’t ask for anything clearer than a step-by-step video tutorial like the one Etsy gave us for these vellum flowers. Cutting out the circles is a pain, so I made one 3″ flower (as recommended), then switched to 1.5″ because that’s how big my circle punch is. Crimping the edges of the petals takes some practice, and getting the wire to hold firmly is tough if you don’t use floral tape, which I didn’t. (Pura’s mom said the floral tape made her stems too sticky, and she managed to make thousands of flowers for the wedding without it, so I wasn’t about to get suckered into the floral tape like a suckery old sucker.)
  3. What could be easier than cutting a spiral and rolling it up? The simple paper flower looks great, and definitely has the best payback-to-effort ratio. Trouble is, the  tutorial doesn’t explain how to attach the finished flower to a stem. For mine, I made a long, narrow loop with a piece of floral wire, caught the inner petals inside the loop, then used the loose end of the loop to make a little spiral-shaped nest underneath the flower. Not perfect, but it held up pretty well.
  4. Kusudama flowers are a lot of work. Lots of pieces, lots of folding, lots of gluing, lots of tricky construction. But conceptually, they’re pretty simple. Once you’ve got the Folding Trees tutorial all you need is a lot of patience. To make mine in the scale you see in the vase (similar to mini cupcake flowers), I started with 4″ squres. To attach the flower to a stem, I then cut six pieces of floral wire, made a small loop at the end of each one, threaded one through each of the six flower sections, and twisted them together at the bottom. It’s way more wire than you need to hold up a little flower. On the other hand, it sure is secure.
  5. Since the cupcake liner flowers are carnations and the tissue paper carnations are carnations, it’s hard to avoid comparing them. Their construction is similar, but these tissue paper carnations are slightly more complex to make (since you have to cut out the circles yourself). But they have pretty colors on the edges, which looks quite realistic when done correctly. Unfortunately, mine looked kind of dingy because I wasn’t able to find white tissue paper as bright as my white cupcake liners, so if you’re thinking of including both in a single arrangement, it’s probably best to do them in a different color.
  6. The paper rose is was the toughest flower of the six, in my opinion, although the tutorial is deceptively glib. I had a hard time making mine look anything like the picture. I kept wrapping and unwrapping and rewrapping and throwing away paper and starting over. To be fair, it’s an easyconcept, and there isn’t much more the tutorial could’ve included; it just takes a certain dexterity, I suppose. So if you’ve got the right touch (and/or enough patience), you can make this something beautiful.

That’s all there is to it. If I were going to rank them from easiest to hardest, I’d do it like this:

  1. Simple paper flower (3)
  2. Cupcake liner flower (1)
  3. Vellum flower (2)
  4. Paper rose (6)
  5. Tissue paper carnation (5)
  6. Kusudama flower (4)

And in order of impressiveness and elegance, based on the reactions of people I know:

  1. Kusudama flower (4)
  2. Vellum flower (2)
  3. Simple paper flower (3)
  4. Cupcake liner flower (1)
  5. Tissue paper carnation (5)
  6. Paper rose (6)

Hope that helps. Of course, you’re going to make the flowers you like best, but at least you’ll have an idea of what you should expect. So go forth! Fold paper!

Kristina Ackerman

Kristina Ackerman is a busy freelance web designer, living and DIYing with her fella and their little fella in a cute old house in Atlanta, GA, USA.