Sometimes, I wish Instagram was a real person so I could shake its hand and give it a huge hug for the endless amounts of inspiration it provides. From discovering great new home tours, photographers and florists to talented DIYers, I am constantly screengrabbing things and sending them to myself to follow up on later. This week’s final DIY project before the holiday is one I’ve been excited to post for weeks. I follow a number of crafters online, but few inspire me as much as Susan Beech. Susan’s Instagram account, A Petal Unfolds, is full of beautiful paper flowers. Most of the time I can’t believe they’re not real, but especially in the case of her rich purple and red ranunculi. They looked so much like the real thing that I wrote to her to ask if we could do a how-to together. Thankfully she was game and today I’m thrilled to share her project, just in time for holiday centerpieces. xo, grace
About Susan: Susan Beech is a paper flower maker living in Brighton, UK. She graduated in Fine Art Printmaking from the University of Brighton in 2002. She focused mainly on digital work and landscape photography, producing emotional pieces on her keen affiliation with nature. In 2013 Susan decided she wanted to go back to making things with her hands again. She took a class in making paper flowers and was instantly drawn to the beauty that could be created from paper. She opened her online shop A Petal Unfolds in April 2014 and is excited to develop her work further.
Click through for the full how-to after the jump!
-Single Ply crepe paper 40g (I use a piece about 23cm/9in x 50cm/20in for each flower) in reds, purples and a green for the stems
-2 cm diameter Polystyrene balls
-Florist wire, 20 gauge
–Aleene’s Tacky Glue (the Turbo Tacky Glue is my favourite to use)
-Hot glue gun and glue stick
-Thick card for templates
Tips for working with crepe paper:
•When working on this flower, the grain of the paper must always run with the height of the petals, so your grain will run from the top of the petal to the bottom and not across.
•Cupping a petal involves holding the petal between your thumb and forefingers of both hands and then gradually stretching the petal carefully and evenly in to a curved shape.
•Stretching the paper means holding the paper at both ends with your thumb and forefinger and gently stretching until it can’t be stretched further.
Refer to petal template, draw out template and cut this out of the card.
Cut strips of crepe paper about 3cm wide and cut out your petals. You will need approximately 75 for each flower. I tend to cut out my petals and keep them as they are in their little piles, as it’s easier to trim the petals down to the different sizes later.
Cut floral wire into lengths about 16cm long.
Find the center of the polystyrene ball and insert floral wire with a little hot glue on the end. I push the wire in about a centimeter. Once the glue has cooled slightly, I press any above the surface down onto the polystyrene so it doesn’t create too much of a bump around the base of the wire. This is the only time you need to use the hot glue.
Cut a little circle of crepe for the very dark center base of your ranunculus flower. I tend to use a darker shade of the colour I plan to do the whole flower in. A brown/green colour can be good, too. Stretch the paper a little and glue to the top of the polystyrene ball.
For the first batch of petals (center petal) you will need approximately 45 to be cut about 1cm from the top across the width. Lightly cup each petal in the center between your thumb and forefinger to give the petal a little shape. The petal template shows the petal when cut down and stretched. Apply a small amount of glue along the straight bottom edge.
These first petals will be forming the very center circle. Place the first petal so that the top edge almost meets the center of the polystyrene ball, holding the petal down so it is sure to stick. Glue the edge of your next petal and overlap it on the previous petal about 50%, positioning it so it is forming a little curve away from the previous. Continue doing this with your next petals until you have formed your center circle. Throughout making the flower, you will be overlapping your petals and you will be able to keep track of where you need to place your next petal because the last petal you glued down will be the one that hasn’t been overlapped yet.
For the next row of petals, you will bring the layer slightly down from the edge of the center circle and then continue overlapping round and round, following the center circle, bringing the layers down until you have completely filled the center of your flower.
Your next set of petals are the outer petals on the petal template and you will need about 30. These petals are cut across about 2mm from the bottom of the petal and are cupped in the middle.
With this layer I tend to bring the petals up around the center of the flower a little. Continue overlapping the petals as before and applying a little glue along the bottom edge. Once you have completed one layer, bring the next layer down slightly and continue around and around as before.
Once you’ve reached a point where you are happy with the shape of your flower (I usually do about 5 layers of outer petals), cup 4 full-size petals deeply to give the bottom of the flower a full shape. I glue this down along the bottom edge as before, but this time I simply glue the petals down overlapping at 90 degrees with each other to cover any remaining polystyrene that is showing and any of the hot glue.
Stems & Calyx
To make the calyx, I cut a strip of green crepe about 2cm wide, across the grain, accordion fold and hand cut out a little leaf shape 2cm in height, cupping slightly in the middle to give a little shape. Glue the end of the calyx shape, then push the glued paper up against the base of the wire, pinching the paper to it once it is stuck down. I apply four of these to each flower.
For the stems, cut a strip of crepe about 1cm wide and 13cm across and stretch it. The paper should be cut across the grain. Apply a little glue to one end and fold this over the top of the wire underneath the calyx. Hold the flower in your right hand and twist the paper down the stem with your left (or whichever is easiest for you), trying to keep the stem as smooth as possible by wrapping tightly and pinching the paper in as you go. I also apply small amounts of glue after every 6 turns or so to keep the paper secure. When you get to the end of the wire, cut the paper down to just above the wire, apply a little glue, fold the top over the wire and pinch the rest of the paper around to seal. I usually repeat wrapping the stem a few times to get the thickness I prefer.
Now you have your finished flower and you can style it as you wish – by shaping the stem and also gently bringing down a few of the lower petals of the flower if you like.