Paper Flowers 101: How to Make Hydrangeas

Spring is in the air, and flowers are blooming everywhere—including in our artwork. There are plenty of fun ways to incorporate floral designs in mixed-media art. You can paint flowers, you can stitch flowers…you can even use clever paper art techniques to create beautiful 3-D paper flowers. In this tutorial from our I {Heart} Paper special issue, artist Jenny Jafek-Jones will show you how to create paper flower hydrangeas. If you’ve never made paper flowers before, these hydrangeas are the perfect place to start; you’ll learn some easy paper flower-making techniques that you can later build on to make other types of flowers.

paper flowers
Jenny Jafek-Jones’ paper flowers are easy to create. (Photos by Sharon White Photography)

Flower Market Hydrangeas by Jenny Jafek-Jones

I always forget to water my houseplants and I consider myself the rightful heir to my mother’s black thumb. To compensate, I spend hours tending and trimming ordinary paper until it blooms into delicate petals and leaves as the paper gardener at The Crimson Poppy.

These hydrangeas are a great way to learn some basic flower-making techniques that you can build on. They go super-fast after you’ve made a couple and have the hang of it, and they are a lovely, inexpensive way to brighten a room. I once made 200 for centerpieces for a wedding reception, and even the last one was fun to make. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do!

Materials

  • Stem wire, paper-covered, 9″ (I use Panacea™ brand.)
  • Binder clips, mini
  • Crepe paper, fine (I used 1 fold of blue paper from Castle In The Air™.)
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue (I use Crafter’s Pick Ultimate!™.)
  • Pencil
  • Cardstock
  • Floral wire, green, 24g cloth or paperwrapped (Find it at Michaels or Save-On-Crafts.com.)
  • Crepe paper, doublette, (I used 1 fold of green paper from Castle In The Air™.)

Directions

1. Use the mini binder clips to hold together the folded layers of the fine crepe paper on one end, perpendicular to the fold. (FIGURE 1) This keeps the paper from moving when you begin to cut.

2. Measure 3½″ from the clipped end and cut across the crepe paper to create a rectangle of folded layers. Snip a straight line approximately 1″ long into the paper, from the edge opposite the clips, and repeat the cut every ½″ or so. (FIGURE 1)

FIGURE 1

3. Unclip and gently unfold the paper to make a very long strip with squared petals along the bottom.

TIP: You may want to ruffle it lightly before unfolding it, as the scissors compact the fine paper.

4. Take the first squared petal on the end of the paper strip (start on the left end if you’re right-handed; right end if you’re a lefty) and pinch it between the thumb and forefinger of both hands. (FIGURE 2) Simultaneously and gently, twist the petal in opposite directions. The motion is similar to wringing water out of a washcloth. Twist until the 2 halves of the petal make a bowtie shape. Press the petal firmly together between your fingertips to set the shape and then release. Continue pinching and twisting along the length of the strip. Yes, every one of those little squared petals. (FIGURE 3)

FIGURE 2
FIGURE 3

5. Lay the strip lengthwise and apply a very light line of glue to the bottom of the petal strip. An 18″ line is a good length of glue for getting started. Repeat on the back side of the strip.

NOTE: If you don’t apply glue to the back of the strip, the gathers keep shifting and you have a wad of clumpy paper rather than a flower. The paper will also want to slide off the stem completely, as only the first few wraps around the stem would actually be adhered to anything. I hold the strip up in the air so it dangles toward the floor, and run the glue along the strip.

6. Wrap the petal strip around one end of the 9″ paper-wrapped stem, beginning approximately ½″ from the tip. Continue circling the starting point until you have fullness at the top and the attached strip starts to angle outwards. (FIGURE 4) Switch to a gathering/folding motion with the strip and continue working in a circle around the stem. Move slightly downward with each full pass around the stem, angling the strip downward a bit more each time. Add glue when you reach the end of the original line of glue and continue to do so until the flower is finished. (FIGURE 5)

FIGURE 4
FIGURE 5

NOTE: You will probably need to flip the stem over and work from the bottom for the last 2–3 passes around the stem in order to create a very round ball shape for the hydrangea.

7. Fill any gaps between the stem and the paper of the bloom with glue and then set the flower aside to dry.

8. Draw the shape of a leaf onto the cardstock and cut it out to use as a pattern.

9. Clip the leaf pattern to the crepe paper, running the grain of the paper along what would be the center or spine of the leaf. Cut as many leaves as desired for each flower. (FIGURE 6)

FIGURE 6

10. Apply a thin line of glue in a straight line down the center of each leaf. Use the wire cutters to snip the floral wire approximately 2″ longer than the glue line and press the wire into the glue with the extra wire protruding from the bottom of the leaf. Set the leaves aside to dry. (FIGURE 7)

FIGURE 7

11. Measure and cut a strip, approximately 14″ × ½″, across the grain of the green doublette crepe paper to use to cover the stem. Cut more strips this size as needed. Apply a thin line of glue to one side of this strip.

12. Turn the hydrangea upside down and, glue-side down, wrap the green paper around the base of the bloom and stem with 2 full wraps to secure it. Continue wrapping down the stem approximately 2″ (FIGURE 8), using one hand to hold the paper strip out at an angle similar to the bottom leg of the letter K and the other hand to turn the stem. Keeping the paper strip consistently taut and at the correct angle will result in a spiral wrap that barely overlaps itself and smoothly covers the stem.

13. Without ending the stem wrap, pause approximately 2″ below the bloom and place a leaf against the stem with the wired side facing you. Wrap over the protruding leaf wire and stem simultaneously. Continue wrapping the stem, placing leaves around it at varying heights and intervals to suit your taste. (FIGURE 9)

FIGURE 8 and FIGURE 9

14. Continue to wrap the paper strip along the stem to the end. Cut the paper strip approximately ½″ longer than the stem, add a bit of extra glue, and fold the remaining paper upward onto the stem. This covers the end of the stem and secures the wrap to the stem.

15. Gently bend the leaves downward and shape as desired.

You did it! You’ll probably want to make some adjustments now that you have the basic technique down, so make a bunch. Hydrangeas look wonderful en masse!

Tips

  • For larger blooms, cut the original strip 4″ or more from the clipped end of the crepe paper; smaller for little bundles.
  • Omit leaves on part of the hydrangea for easier arranging.
  • Use a variety of complementary colors for the blooms.
  • Adjust the stem lengths to create flowers in different heights.


Jenny Jafek-Jones’ paper garden blooms in a cheery Dallas, Texas, “greenhouse” studio. Visit her website at thecrimsonpoppy.com.


Jenny has more techniques for paper flowers to show you! Click here for her paper flower anemones tutorial.

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Categories

Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques, Paper Art and Zen Doodle

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