I can’t really say that I’m a flower person, but when it comes to crafting, I am drawn to floral crafts – making flowers out of materials other than the ones used by Mother Nature. I even have a Pin board devoted to handmade blooms that I would like to try my hand at. I’m drawn to the beauty of flowers, but hate to garden and care for something whose beauty quickly fades, so when the chance to take a crepe paper rose class came up at my favorite store, Castle in the Air, I jumped at the chance.
Now, I’ve taken previous crepe paper flower classes at Castle – with Anandamayi Arnold and Aimee Baldwin and Ulla Milbrath – but wanted to refresh my memory about making these works of art. The teacher this time was Lynn Dolan.
After viewing Lynn’s excellent YouTube video on how to make crepe paper roses, I knew I wanted to learn from this master. She has a slightly different approach on how to create your own blooms than the other instructors. It’s always interesting how different artists can take something similar and give it their own spin, and Lynn really did.
I took the class and made one good-sized, long stem rose and went home and continued making a few more roses on my own. I’m glad I did because it seems every time I make a different rose, I learn something new or remember something I had forgotten the previous times.
The best instructor is Lynn, so please refer to her video as you follow along. I’m going to let her do most of the teaching. I’ll highlight certain things that were slightly different in the class than in the video and what Lynn does that’s different from other instructions you might find out there. I’ll also point out things that I did differently that I found helpful when making my roses.
I would suggest that you have some baby wipes on hand as you make your flowers, as all the gluing can leave your fingers feeling sticky.
We first started out by cutting out the petal and leaf templates that Lynn provided. She gave us two different sized petals so that we could either make a smaller or larger sized rose. I chose to make a smaller sized one.
One important thing to know about working with crepe paper is that it has a visible grain. You always want to orient the grain in the right position so that you can sculpt the paper the right way. In the templates Lynn provided, she had an arrow on each one to help us orient the paper the right way so that the grain ran in the same direction as the arrow.
For our roses, we used the doublette crepe paper instead of the florist crepe paper that Lynn used in the video. The main difference between the two types of paper is the stretchability. The florist paper stretches a lot more than the doublette, but the grain on the doublette is less pronounced. Plus, the paper we used was not ombre. They were one color, with one side a bit darker than the other.
We cut out our petals, about fifteen per rose, using the petal template. I found that it’s a good idea to cut out more than you think you’ll need because you may just discover that you need more as you’re constructing your rose.
Because we were not using the ombre paper, in order to get a blush of color on our petals, we colored the top edge of each petal with chalk pastels. There are different grades of pastels, and Lynn had both the inexpensive and more expensive brands at our disposal.
Not surprisingly, the more expensive, higher grade chalk had deeper color saturation than the less expensive, lower grade brand. (I do want to caution those of you who would like to color your petals with these pastels – heavy metals are used in some of the colors and pose a health risk especially to young children. The powder especially is not good, as it is easily inhaled into the body. I found the more expensive pastels easily gave off traces of powder just from rubbing them on the paper. You may want to handle them with gloves, and try not to breathe in the powder).
We blended the color into the petal using a paint brush. I found through some experimenting at home, that using cosmetic wedges, it was easier to blend the colors into the crepe paper.
Next we cupped our petals.
(I realized upon reviewing the video, that I probably cupped my petals too high up, instead of closer to the base).
Then we curled the edges of our petals. I discovered that the smaller the diameter of whatever you’re using to curl the petals, the more curled the edges will be. The more curled the petals are, the more open the finished rose will appear. I used a piece of stem wire to give my petals a more curled look.
Next, we cut out a strip of stamens out of yellow crepe paper. (I think I used a longer strip than the three inches Lynn used in the video).
I liked how Lynn had us twist the stamens to give them a more realistic look. I had never done this in my previous flower making. If you’re having problems rolling the stamens between your fingers, moisten your fingers just a little bit. I rubbed my fingers on a baby wipe and wiped the excess moisture off before twisting my stamens.
Then we wrapped the stamen strip around the 18 gauge floral stem wire. (You want to buy the floral wire that is already wrapped in cloth so that glue will adhere to it more readily).
We then dipped our stamens in glue and glitter to create the pollen. One thing not mentioned in the video is that we trimmed the edges of the stamens flush with each other before dipping them in glue so that it would be easier to get the glue on.
Next we glued on the petals, one by one, making sure to overlap them as they spiraled around the stem.
After gluing on all fifteen of my petals, I looked at my rose and felt it didn’t look right, so Lynn suggested I glue on a couple more petals to even it out. After doing so, it still didn’t quite look right, but Lynn told me that curling the petals some more and tugging them around a bit would help improve it. So I curled some of the petal edges that had straightened out a bit and just manipulated my petals until I was pretty happy with how my rose looked.
I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the way the color of my petals turned out. They look like the color of real roses.
Next we cut out our calyx.
We wrapped and glued it onto the base of our flower.
Next we curled the calyx.
One thing to note is that the crepe paper we used was not the same green color as the olive one Lynn used in the video. The one we used was much lighter in color, with one side decidedly darker than the other. (For some reason, the olive paper is the same shade on both sides). Because of this, you want to make sure that you glue the calyx on with the darker side facing away from the petals. I forgot to do this for one of the roses I made at home, and this is what I ended up with:
A calyx with a different shade of green than the stem.
We then wrapped and glued strips of crepe paper around the base of the calyx and down the entire length of the stem. (When I was experimenting at home, I discovered it was better to wrap the stem only a few inches down its length to where you would later be adding the leaves, and then finish wrapping the entire rose stem once you had the leaves attached to minimize the bulk in the middle of your main stem where the leaves are attached. However, make sure you wrap this top portion of the stem several times so that it is pretty thick because once you attach the leaves and wrap the rest of your stem, the bottom portion of your stem will be pretty thick itself, and at that point, it will be hard to wrap more crepe paper to the top part to make it match the thickness of the rest of the stem).
Next we cut out squares of green crepe paper for our leaves. Lynn showed us a different way than in the video to cut the paper so that the grain would line up properly into a chevron pattern. She had us stack two squares of paper on top of each other so that the right (i.e., darker) sides faced each other. Then we cut diagonally across the grain to get four triangles. Each pair of triangles facing each other then lined up perfectly to form the chevron pattern. We glued the triangles together.
We lined up our leaf template with the triangles so that the arrow on the template followed the grain of the paper.
This is the part where at least two students – one of them being me – messed up because we didn’t pay attention to the direction of the grain. We each ended up with a leaf in which the chevron pattern was an upside down v instead of a right side up v when we opened the leaf up.
I had made crepe paper leaves before, but never using this technique to create a chevron pattern.
After cutting out our leaves, we cut three pieces out of our 22 gauge wire so that each length was several inches longer than the length of a leaf. In the video, it isn’t very clear, but we then wrapped each piece of wire with strips of green crepe paper, so that the color of the wire matched the color of the leaves. For one of the roses I made at home, I forgot to do that, and here’s what it looked like:
We wrapped the entire length of each leaf stem, but I realized later at home, that you can just wrap each stem about an inch longer than the length of the leaf because the rest of the stems would be later wrapped together and then wrapped again to the main stem, covering up any unwrapped portions of the floral wire. The less wrapping you do at the start, the less bulky your finished rose stem will be.
Next, we made our leaf sprig.
Then we wrapped the sprig to the rose stem and finished wrapping the rest of the main stem, wrapping additional strips of crepe paper as needed, to even out the thickness of the stem. (As mentioned above, the stem around where the leaf sprig is attached will be thicker).
We then brushed some Mod Podge onto the tops of the leaves to give them a glossy coat, mimicking real leaves. This was something Lynn came up with to make the leaves look even more realistic.
Now in the video, Lynn instructs us to use a light, even coating of Mod Podge. I, of course, being heavy-handed when it comes to things like this, found that some of the leaves I glossed at home curled downward along the edges from the weight of the Mod Podge. To prevent the edges from curling down too much, I flipped my rose upside down while the leaves were trying. Gravity helped pull the leaves back into shape :0)
And there you have it, a finished rose!
Crepe paper, especially, has a tendency to fade. We didn’t do this in class, but Lynn suggested spraying our finished flowers with a UV-resistant fixative.
I made three additional roses after I got home, each one in a different color. This red one I gave a golden hint of color along the edges of the petals.
The photos don’t really do it justice, as the combination of the red and the golden highlights were really pretty, if I do say so myself :0)
I think this orange one looks a little too symmetrical, almost too perfect, and the red color I added to the petals didn’t show up as well.
Nor did the white color show up on this pink rose.
One thing I didn’t realize until I had finished making these last three roses was that I attached the leaf sprig to the rose stem too far up the stems of the leaves. If you look at the first rose I made, there’s a bit more space between the sprig stem and the rose stem than in my later roses.
I gave the red and orange roses to a friend who loves flowers on her birthday the other day. Happy birthday, Cynthia :0)
I’ve never paid a whole lot of attention to the individual details of flowers before, but now after taking this class, I will be sure to look at flowers more closely.
It’s funny – Lynn was telling us how as she got better at making crepe paper flowers, she became more critical of her earlier work and now see all the flaws in her earlier attempts. I totally agree because now that I’ve made a couple of roses myself, I can see where my mistakes are and where I can improve.
Interestingly enough, Lynn started out as a student of Anandamayi and Aimee’s (two other masters of crepe paper flowers) when she took a class of theirs at Castle in the Air. She really fell in love with using crepe paper as a medium and just ran with it, developing her own style, and now she is a teacher herself at Castle. What an inspiration she is.
If you’re interested in taking any of Lynn’s classes or those of the other amazing instructors at Castle in the Air, please visit their website for the latest class schedule. They just posted the spring 2014 schedule, and some of the classes have already sold out, so sign up for a class today!
Please note: I have not been paid nor have I been given anything in exchange for mentioning any of the artists or Castle in the Air here. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
Do you do any types of floral crafts? What types have you done? Please share in the comments.