DIYdiy projects

DIY Paper Spider Orchids

by Kate Alarcon

hand holding stems of paper brassica orchids

I am very afraid of spiders. Even in a nature documentary, they send me into a full-body gasp, yelp, and shudder. So it was with some trepidation that I began researching both spider orchids and spider plants in the same week, scanning Google image and Pinterest results, hoping not to encounter any stray arachnid pics.

I assumed I would be in the clear once I started making the paper versions of the spider (or brassica) orchids. And I was… Until I got all the petals on the first flower and felt a sudden rush of “get it off! Get it off!” I kept the stems-in-progress on the dresser beside the television, which was a bad idea. When I watched a movie with my husband that night, they kept hovering in my peripheral vision, startling me over and over again. So they were moved to the kitchen, which didn’t prevent them from haunting my dreams.

But maybe it takes an arachnophobe to truly appreciate the creepy beauty of brassica orchids — the dark, skinny petals that bear a tarantula-knee pattern, their habit of hanging in space like spiders in a web. Don’t let me scare you off, though: these blooms are fun to make and even more fun to arrange. They add a dramatic swoop to a paper flower bouquet and look chic posed all by themselves in a simple vase. —Kate

About Kate: Kate Alarcón makes paper plant life and teaches workshops in the Seattle area. She occasionally lists finished flowers in her shop on her website. You can see her most recent work on Instagram @cobralilyshop, and a ridiculous number of flower pins on her Pinterest boards (@The Cobra Lily).

paper flower bouquet

flatlay of project supplies


Peach extra heavy crepe paper

White doublette crepe paper

Leaf/moss doublette crepe paper

Sangria/Aubergine doublette crepe paper

18 gauge, cloth-covered wire

Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue

White paint pen (I’ve used a Pen-touch 1.0mm opaque pen)

Yellow marker (I’ve used a Copic Sketch in Y38)

Purple marker (I’ve used a Copic Ciao in V12)

Black pen (I’ve used Pigma Brush in black)

Wire snips

Sharp scissors

Spider orchid templates (download here)


A note about grain:

Crepe paper grain runs up and down the roll or fold, not across. Be sure that the tiny crinkles in your crepe run from the top of the template to the bottom, not from one side to the other.


For the center:

To make the anther cap at the center of the orchid, cut a four-inch-long and ¼” wide strip of peach crepe across the grain. Dot the strip with glue, and, holding the strip at a 45-degree angle to the wire, gently stretch it as you spiral down. When you’ve wrapped an inch or so, change directions, spiraling up toward the tip of the wire. Repeat three to five times, until your anther cap is built up to your liking. If the crepe at the tip of your wire is pointy, round it by gently pressing it down with your finger while the glue is still wet.

three stages of wire being wrapped

Coloring the labellum:

Use template A on the template sheet to cut a diamond out of the white doublette crepe. (Make sure the grain of the crepe runs up and down the diamond, rather than side to side.) Color the diamond with your purple marker. To simulate the coloring on a live brassica orchid, I like to leave the bottom edges of the diamond white. Once the purple ink is dry, dot the top half of the diamond with your paint pen. It looks best when this is a little random, though I do make the dots highest on the diamond biggest and dot them gradually smaller as I move down. I also think it looks very realistic when some of the dots overlap or merge together.

steps for adding color and detail to the labellum

Once the white paint is dry, dot the top of each white dot with black or brown ink.

Gently stretch the two bottom edges of the labellum to create a slight ruffle. To curl it, hold the top of the labellum between your thumb and the back of your scissor blades, and gently scrape toward the bottom of the diamond, like you would if you were curling ribbon.

two hands scissor-curling the labellum

hand holding curled labellum

Pinch the tip of the diamond as shown to create a narrow little tab.

hand pinching the top of the labellum

Dot this tab with a very small amount of glue, and attach it to the wrapped end of your stem, about 1/4” back from the tip.

labellum with glue on the pinched tip

labellum attached to stem wire

For the petals:

Use template B to cut five petals per flower. (Again, make sure that the grain of the crepe runs from the base of the petal to the tip.)

The petals of this kind of brassica orchid vary a lot in pattern from plant to plant; I’ve come up with a version that is pretty easy to reproduce, but feel free to mix it up! You can see in the photo that the petal at the very top is different from all the other petals. The two bottom petals share the same pattern except that the tip of the bottom right petal is colored on the right, and the tip of the bottom left is colored on the left. The two petals on either side of the top petal also share the same pattern, and the coloring on the tips also mirror each other.

five petals and one labellum layed out in position

To color the petals, draw the pattern on with the paint pen. When the paint dries, add a second coat. Once the second coat dries, color the white pattern yellow with your marker.

three paper brassica petal coloring stages

Curl the petals with the back of your scissor blades in the same way you curled the labellum.

curled paper brassica petal

Starting with the top petal, dot glue on the base of the petal and apply it to the tip of your stem, opposite the labellum.

stem wire with top petal and labellum attached

Next come the bottom two petals and finally the petals on either side of the top petal.

stem with labellum, top petal, and two lower petals finished brassica orchid flower

Make two more flowers.

Wrapping the stem:

Cut a six-inch-long, ¼” wide strip of green doublette crepe across the grain, and dot it with glue. First, wrap the back of your flower, covering the bottoms of the petals.

green paper strip dotted with glue being wrapped around the base of a paper spider orchid

Then, spiral downwards for 6 inches. Repeat for the other two flowers, except for these, only cover 4 inches of the stem. Bend one of the stems at the point where you’ve stopped wrapping, so that it curves toward the right. Cut another six-inch-long by ¼” wide strip of green crepe, and dot it with glue. Hold the curved stem together with the first stem you wrapped, aligning the points on each stem where the wrapping stops.

two paper brassica stems being wrapped together with green crepe strips

two wire stems being wrapped together with a crepe strip dotted with glue

Starting at this point, wrap the two stems together for four inches. Add the final stem by bending it so that it curves to the left, aligning the points where the wrapping on both stems stops, and wrapping the stems together with a strip of crepe until you reach the bottom of the three stems.

a third stem being added to the first two

Using eye protection, snip the stem to your desired length. To finish, bend each individual flower stem into a pleasing position, and bend the main stem into a right angle so that your branch will behave in a vase.

brassica stemw ith three flowers

Supply Sources:

Crepe paper: Papermart.com, Rosemille.com

Stem wire, wire snips, and glue: Michaels.com

Markers: Dickblick.com

close up of three stems of paper brassica orchids

paper brassica orchid

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  • These are sooo beautiful – thanx for sharing sooo much. Her insta is full of beautiful flowers looking as they were real ones!
    many ♡ ly greetings sent by
    Sabine from WO(rms) in Germany

  • I am super pumped for another tutorial from Kate! I love it…actually just finished the Coral Charm peony yesterday. I really struggle with my compulsion to make things symmetrical, which seems isn’t a good thing when it comes to real looking blooms…lol! However, this beauty is creeping right up my mirror imaged alley…might can get away with a little OCD action on this one. :)

    For me, paper flowers merge my desire to craft and my love of gardening. Both of which are needed during the long Michigan winter.

    High fives to ds and to the immensely talented Kate Alarcón for sharing.

    P.s. your stem wrapping game is out of control! :)

  • Thanks, Catherine! That’s so funny about the peony–and it really is kind of tough to make things basically even and balanced all around while still achieving an organic, slightly irregular feel. Hope you have a blast with the orchids!

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