This speckled wildflower isn’t the large, showy tiger lily grown from a bulb as an annual, but rather lilium columbiana, a Pacific Northwest native with small flowers that face downward. I’ve never actually seen a live one in person before, but this is one of my favorite paper flowers to add to a bouquet. It’s bright and eye-catching but still has a delicate, woodland vibe. The arched stems give an arrangement height that isn’t too visually distracting, and the curled petals show off the color on both sides of the doublette crepe paper.
But the best argument for paper tiger lilies is the fun of speckling and curling those petals. Enjoy! —Kate
-Lily petal template (here)
-Orange doublette crepe from here
-Yellow, orange, or green heavy or fine crepe for the pistil (I’ve used Bright Olive heavy crepe from here.)
-Fine crepe in orange or brown (I’ve used Vermillion fine crepe from here.)
-Fine crepe in Cypress from here
-Aleene’s Original Tacky glue
-Cloth-covered stem wire in 18 gauge and 22 gauge
-Dark brown or burgundy pen or marker. Any kind should work, but test it on a scrap of doublette crepe first to be safe.
-A rod approximately the diameter of a straw (I used a gold paper straw from Target, but a pen, knitting needle, or wooden dowel would also work.)
A note about crepe paper grain:
The grain of the crepe paper runs parallel to the roll or fold. Crepe paper stretches horizontally, but not vertically, so you will almost always cut petals with the grain, placing the template so that the tiny wrinkles in the paper run up and down the template, not across. Cutting with the grain means that you cut in the same direction the crinkles are running; cutting across the grain means that you cut perpendicular to these crinkles.
Cut four 3” pieces of the 22 gauge wire for each flower. (Lilies technically have 6 stamens, but I like the more streamlined appearance of 4. Use as many as you like!)
Cut out a 5”x 5” rectangle of fine crepe in whatever color you prefer for your stamen tips.
Cut the square across the grain to create 1/8” wide strips. Each strip will cover at least one stamen tip, so you only need four strips for each lily. Dot a very small amount of glue along one of the strips. Attach the end of the strip to the wire about 1/16” below the tip of one of your short lengths of wire. The strip should be perpendicular to the wire.
Roll the strip around the wire to create a little barrel, which will plump up your stamen tip. (I always just eyeball this, but I’ve found that a typical barrel takes about 1.5” of the strip.) Once you’ve rolled up your barrel, hold the strip at a 45-degree angle to the tip of the wire, and start wrapping toward the tip. When you get to the end of the wire, reverse directions and wrap toward the bottom of the stamen. Snip off any excess.
While the paper is still wet, mold the stamen tip a little bit, smoothing any bumps in the tip. Then pinch it flat between your thumb and index finger.
Cut two ¼” x 3.5” strips of Bright Olive heavy crepe across the grain. Dot glue down the length of the strip. Starting at the tip of one of your 18 gauge wires, wrap at least the top 2” of the wire, stretching the strip and spiraling down at a 45-degree angle.
Dot your second strip of heavy crepe with glue. Position a stamen against the pistil so that the bottom of the stamen hits the pistil two inches below the pistil tip. Repeat with the remaining 3 stamens. The second should be placed opposite the first. The remaining two stamens go in the spaces between the first two. Snip any excess strip.
The finished center
Using the petal template, cut six petals from the orange doublette. (Make sure the grain runs up and down the petal from tip to base.)
Decide whether you’d like the darker or lighter orange side of the petals to face the center. I’ve chosen the darker orange, so that’s the side I speckled.
Use your pen to apply dots to the petal. I’ve drawn larger and smaller elongated ovals somewhat at random. I threw away about fifty lovingly speckled petals after changing my mind about the speckle pattern. Don’t be me: spend some time practicing on scraps before tackling the petals.
Find the circle near the bottom of the petal template, and gently stretch this area to create a little bowl.
Starting at the tip of your petal, curl your petal around the rod. The “right” side of the petal — in other words, the side on which you drew your speckles — should face toward the rod, while the back side of the petal is what you’ll see when the petal is almost completely wrapped around the rod.
Without uncurling the petal, remove the rod. For a lily in full bloom, leave the curls tight. To create different stages of bloom, adjust the curl of the petals by gently smoothing them between your fingers.
Applying the petals:
The petals are attached in two rounds of three.
Apply a small amount of glue to the little tab at the bottom of the petal. Attach one of the petals to your center, placing it so that the top of the little tab falls just above the top of the olive strip that you used to attach the stamens to the pistil.
Attach two more petals, spacing them evenly to form a triangle around the center.
For the next round, apply the petals in the spaces between your first set of three. Make sure not to drift down the stem with this second round.
Gently bend the stamens so that they curve outward away from the pistil.
Wrapping the stem:
After you’ve attached all six petals, cut two ¼” x 10″ strips of Cypress fine crepe across the grain. Dot the first two inches of the strip with glue and wrap the stem where it meets the back of the flower, covering the tabs where the lily petals attach to the pistil. Stretch as you wrap to create a smoother stem.
Dot glue on the next three or four inches of the stem and continue wrapping with your fine crepe strip. When you’ve covered all the glue, apply glue to the next three or four inches and wrap. Continue until the whole stem is covered. If you have a bump where the bottom of the stamens meet the stem, you can use additional strips to build up the area just below the stamen bottoms to create a smoother transition.
The petals often become mussed during wrapping, so gently adjust them and recurl if necessary.
Carefully bend the stem below the bloom to create an arc. I like for my lilies to be facing straight down.
To protect your flower from fading, you can spray it with Krylon matte UV protectant spray (in a well-ventilated place, while wearing a mask).
About Kate: Kate Alarcón makes paper plant life and teaches workshops in the Seattle area. She periodically lists finished flowers in her shop on her website, www.thecobralily.com. You can see her most recent work on Instagram @cobralilyshop.