Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paper Flowers

If you are preparing for Dia de los Muertos you may be looking for marigolds for your ofrenda. Marigolds, or cempazuchitl, welcome the dead and help them on their journey. The petals are often used to make a trail from the cemetary to the family home and whole flowers are made into garlands and decorative arrangements. Families will often grow marigolds in their garden to prepare for the holiday. If fresh flowers are not available paper flowers can be made to symbolize the real thing.

Here is a simple to tutorial on how to make paper flowers, this is the same thing you may have learned in kindergarten. Its simple fan folding and cutting but the results are really very pretty. Marigolds come in different shades of yellow, orange, and gold so use what you like or try different colors for more variety.

Begin by cutting rectangles out of tissue paper. They should be twice as long as they are wide. Mine were roughly 3.5" x 7", but you can make them larger (as in the photo at the bottom). Stack 4 sheets together and begin fan folding, making 1/4-1/3" folds.

Gather the folds and twist a 7-8" length of wire around the center. I was able to find green floral wire at a craft store that bends very easily. If you can only locate plain wire 20 gauge is about right for this project. Once the wire is secure cut out a rounded shape on each side.

Then open up the folds on both sides of the wire. Begin pulling up each layer one at a time to create the petals. Shape them as you go along by gently twisting and turning the paper so it curls around itself. Once all the layers are separated I pull them all together from the bottom to shape the entire flower. You can also shape the wire stem or wrap it in green tissue paper if you like.

Now that I've made dozens of these flowers I'm of course looking for other ways to use them. I think they make great napkin or placeholders and would be really pretty to tie around a gift bag or box and use like a bow. Anyone have any other creative ideas for these?


  1. You could make really small ones and turn them into earrings. Or you could make a bunch and hang them from the ceiling, make a chandelier, or string them together to make a garland.

    Have you thought about using fabric instead of tissue paper? You might be able to use a stiff (or starched) fabric to do the same thing and then attach them to hair clips, headbands, or hats.

    I'd love to see the final product if you make any of these.

  2. Great ideas Alicia! I think the garland would be gorgeous, and fabric is definitely worth a try as well.