I took another crepe paper flower class at Castle in the Air recently, with Lynn Dolan, whom I interviewed for this blog last week. (Read the interview here). This time we learned how to make a tree peony and a poppy. I’ll talk about the tree peony today and leave the poppy for my next post.
Not being a flower expert, I didn’t realize there are countless types of peonies. A few months back, Lynn had shown us how to make a classic peony – the kind of peony you think of when you think of a peony. (Read about the class here). Well this class was for the tree peony, which is a much less complicated flower.
We started out by making the carpels. the seed-bearing structures of the flower. We cut out four equal lengths (about 7 to 9 inches each) of 24 gauge floral wire.
Starting about one inch from one end of each piece of wire, we wrapped and glued a strip (about 1/4 inch wide) of sage green florist crepe to form the pointy carpel.
Next we cut out tiny elongated triangles out of orange-red florist crepe for the ends of the carpels, so that the grain of the paper ran along the length of each piece.
We wrapped each carpel with a triangular piece to form the tip.
We then gathered the carpels and used more of the green florist crepe to wrap them around a length of 18 gauge stem wire to form the main stem of the flower.
Next, we made the stamens. We cut out a strip of yellow/pumpkin colored florist crepe measuring 2.5 inches by 12 inches and stretched it slightly against the grain, before cutting a series of fringe 3/4 of the way down, all the way across the length of crepe, cutting along the grain of the paper.
I chose to twist the pieces of fringe between my fingers to give them a more rounded look like Lynn had shown us in the crepe paper rose class. (Sorry, but I forgot to take a photo!)
We then tightly wrapped the strip of fringe around the carpels, dabbing glue along the way, to form the stamens.
The base of the fringe was pretty bulky, so we trimmed away some of the excess crepe.
The center of the tree peony was now complete.
I didn’t take a photo, but Lynn later showed me how to tamp down the tops of the fringe so they became slightly rounded to resemble real stamens.
Now it was time for the petals. Using the template Lynn provided, we cut 7 to 8 petals out of fine white crepe paper, lining up the grain of the paper along the length of the template. I ended up cutting out and using eight. (To make a fuller flower, you would need more petals).
We folded each petal in half, down the center and glued the base along the crease to give the petal more of a three-dimensional shape. Next we ever so slightly cupped the petals in the center to give them even more dimension and variation. Then we shaded and colored the base of the petals with chalks and pencils. I saw one of the petals Lynn had chalked:
I loved how beautifully subtle the coloring was done. I tried to mimic it and ended up with this:
Subtlety is not my strong suit!
Next we glued the petals onto the base of the stamen fringe we had made earlier, overlapping and spacing the petals.
With every flower you learn to make, one of the keys is learning how to glue the petals around the stem center so that they overlap and are evenly spaced, yet natural looking. Every flower has different sized and shaped petals, so it’s almost always a crap shoot, at least for me, how my arranged petals will look after everything has been glued together. Fortunately, they’ve all looked pretty decent thus far. Not perfect, but good enough for first attempts.
Anyway, it turns out it wasn’t so much the spacing of my petals that was problematic, but where I attached them to the base of the stamen fringe. If you look in the photo below, I glued the petals too low, so that the uncut portion of the stamen fringe was exposed.
(Notice the slightly rounded tops of the stamens in the above photo. As mentioned above, Lynn helped me tamp down the tops of the fringe).
This is how my tree peony looked after all the petals were glued on:
We then gently ruffled the top edge of each petal by sandwiching a small section of petal between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and quickly, but gently moving one hand forward while moving the other one back, in opposite directions.
Next, using the templates Lynn provided, we cut out the 4 sepals that form the calyx, cupped them, and glued them onto the underside of the flower, evenly spacing them out. Then we started wrapping the stem. We used a brighter green florist crepe for the sepals and stem.
Then it was time to make the leaf sprig. The technique for cutting and gluing the leaves that form the sprig is very similar to the one used in creating the leaf sprig for the rose. We started by cutting out a square piece of green florist crepe large enough for the entire leaf of each of the templates. The tree peony has two different shaped leaves, and there are three leaves that make up a sprig, with the larger, three-lobed leaf in the center, flanked on either side by the smaller, single lobed leaf.
We then cut each square of paper diagonally to form two triangles, which we layered one on top of the other, making sure that the grain that was facing up on each triangle was running in the same direction. (Sorry for the lack of photos!) Next we glued the longest edges of the triangles together.
After the glue dried, we laid the half leaf template onto the glued triangles, lining up the center of the leaf along the glued edges of the crepe, and cut out each of our three leaves. When a leaf was opened up, the grain of the crepe paper should have mimicked the veins of a real life leaf. I say “should” because I kept messing up this part, so that the veins ran in the opposite direction, forming an upside down v pattern. I don’t have any photos, but trust me, it was not pretty having to cut my leaves several times before I got them right! (It would’ve also been helpful had I not been yapping away while working on this.)
After all the leaves were formed, we cut out 3 pieces of 24-gauge floral wire so that each one was a few inches longer than the length of the corresponding leaf. We wrapped each piece of wire with a fine strip of green florist crepe.
Then we glued the stems onto the centers of the leaves. To form the sprig, we wrapped all 3 stems together with more strips of crepe paper. Finally, we wrapped the entire sprig around the stem of the peony. Here is what the completed leaf sprig looked like after it had been attached to the floral stem:
Here is my completed tree peony:
The delicate quality of the fine white crepe paper used to make the petals gives the flower a beautiful translucency.
It seems like every crepe paper flower class I take from Lynn is better than the previous ones, and this was no different. I think, of all the flowers I’ve made, the tree peony is probably my favorite. With its simple 8-petal construction, there is almost a free spiritedness about it in how the petals fan out, unlike the structure and tightness of the rose and classic peony.
Thanks, Lynn, for another great class and for outdoing yourself once again!
What is your favorite flower? What is your favorite crepe paper flower to make? Please share in the comments.