It’s almost Mother’s Day! Give your mom, grandma, or any other special person in your life a flower bouquet that will last forever. This week, we’re making paper flowers inspired by the gorgeous blooms you can find in artworks throughout the Museum’s galleries. This is one of my favorite floral still lifes:
Let’s get started! Here are instructions for making two different kinds of paper flowers.
- Paper—of any kind (printer paper, pages from magazines/catalogues, or origami paper)
- Glue and/or tape
- Markers, colored pencils, pens, or anything else you can use to decorate paper
- Wire, pipe cleaners, chopsticks, or anything else that can be made into stems
- Tissue paper to make leaves
1. You’ll need three square sheets of paper for this flower. If you happen to have origami paper that’s already square, skip ahead to step 4. To create a small square out of one rectangular sheet of paper, you must first fold the sheet in half (hamburger-style) and cut along the fold. Set one half aside.
2. Take the other half and fold one of its corners up to meet the opposite edge of the sheet. This should form a triangle with an extra flap of paper on one end. Cut off this flap so that you’re left with the triangle (a square folded in half). Repeat these steps until you have three squares of paper that are the same size. Note: Your squares can be any size as long as all three are the same size. After your first rose, try making more with bigger or smaller squares.
3. Take one of the squares that is still folded in half (it should look like a triangle). Fold it in half again to make a smaller triangle, and then fold it in half again to make an even smaller triangle. Don’t worry about the folds being exact. Real flowers aren’t perfectly even!
4. If you’ve ever cut a paper snowflake, this next step will be familiar. Lay your triangle flat on a table or solid work surface. The fold should open away from you, and up to the right (see my example in the picture below). Then, draw the shape of one petal. You can make a simple, rounded one like I did here, or you can draw a wavy line and add a pointed top. Your petal can be any shape you want. Just make sure it is easy to cut out.
5. Cut through all the layers along the line you drew. You can trim it until you have a shape you like. Unfold your paper, and see the shape of your flower! Repeat steps 3–5 with your second and third squares of paper. At this point, you can decorate the petals, if you want.
6. This next step is a little like cutting slices of cake or pie. Take one of your flowers and cut out one petal (cut along the folds). Take the second flower and cut out two petals, leaving the two connected together. With the third flower, cut out—you guessed it—three petals, leaving the three connected together. Hang on to all six pieces.
7. Now we’re going to make the layers of the flower. Take the largest piece (the layer with seven petals), and attach the two petals that have the empty space in between (where you cut out one petal). You can use glue or tape to hold them together. See the image below for help.
8. Repeat this step with all six pieces. When you get to the smaller pieces (the ones with one, two, and three petals), you do not have to overlap the full petal; just make sure the ends are connected. To form my smallest layers, I rolled the paper around a pencil, and I used tape, instead of glue, to connect the ends. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect!
9. Trim the tip of the second biggest layer so that there’s a small hole in the bottom. Fit it into the biggest layer. The petals on the inside layer should almost align with the petals on the outside layer. If the petals on the inside layer reach above those on the outside, trim more off the tip.
10. When you’re happy with the size of the second layer, put glue around the tip and press it into the larger layer. If you don’t have glue, small loops of tape will work too.
11. Repeat this with all the flower layers. You may find that you have to trim a little more off the tip of each layer as they get smaller and smaller. Only trim a little at a time so that the layers don’t get too small.
12. Balance your flower between two or three objects so that it can dry upright. Make any final adjustments to the petal layers before the glue dries. Your first rose is done!
1. For this flower, you will need two long paper rectangles. I started by folding a rectangular sheet of paper in half (hot dog–style) and cutting along the fold. As before, you can experiment with different sizes and lengths of paper with each chrysanthemum you make.
2. Take one of your two rectangles and fold it in half lengthwise to make an even skinnier rectangle (another hot dog–style fold). Cut slits along the folded side of the rectangle (make sure you’re not cutting on the open side!). Make the slits as evenly spaced as you can, and cut them almost to the open edge but not all the way through. Repeat with the second rectangle.
3. Optional (if you want the petals to look fluffier): After you cut all the slits, open both pieces of paper and refold along the same line, going the opposite way. Press down gently. You’ll see that the loops you cut are more open and rounded now.
4. Next, take one of your rectangles (with slits), and start rolling the paper. To avoid crushing your petals, hold on to the edge without the slits. The roll doesn’t have to be really tight; in fact, keeping it a little loose will make the flower look more natural. As you roll, put down a line of glue (or loops of tape) along the uncut edge and gently squeeze to hold the coil together. Try to keep the layers lined up, but it’s OK if they’re not exactly even at the end. When you get to the end of the paper, tape the edge down to secure the coil.
5. Pick up the other rectangle (with slits), and tape one end down where you left off. Continue rolling and gluing around the first coil.
6. Tape down the last end. The center of the flower may be popping up. Gently press down on it to keep the petals aligned. “Fluff” the petals up a bit with your fingers until the flower looks the way you like.
7. To make a lilac: Follow the directions for paper chrysanthemums, but do not glue as you coil. After you’ve taped down the second piece of paper, gently pull up from the center of the petals to make them splay out. The small pieces of tape on the inside of the flower will help keep it from unraveling
To assemble your bouquet, find materials you can use for stems, such as pipe cleaners, wires, or drinking straws. I used colored pencils (my arrangement is temporary). Tape your “stems” to the bottoms of your flowers, and then arrange them in a vase or mug. You may also want to add some leaves or greenery. I cut my leaves out of green tissue paper, and then twisted them together.
Share your paper flower arrangement on social media with #MAMStudioAtHome, and click on the hashtag to see what other kids like you are making. You might find fans of your work right at home, too!
Studio at Home activities are designed to be enjoyed with the whole family, regardless of age. Families can work together to learn new techniques and materials, and to explore creativity. As with all new things, provide your child the support and supervision that they need for their developmental level, practicing safe use of tools and materials. You know your kids best!
Dianne Choie is the Youth & Family Programs Coordinator. She is responsible for the Museum’s ArtPack Station, runs the monthly Play Date with Art program for children to age 5, and teaches Studio Tour Workshops, Youth Studio Classes, and Summer Art Camps.