How to: Zinnia Paper Flowers
Step into the wonder world of Australia’s paper flower artist, Jennifer Tran, to try your hand at crafting your own enchanting paper floral bouquet.
SKILL LEVEL: Beginner
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
+ Bamboo skewer
+ 60 gsm crepe papers in light green, light brown and yellow
+ Double-sided crepe paper in lavender and olive
+ 18-gauge wire
+ Parafilm tape
+ PVA glue
+ Flower templates
1. Cut three pieces of 18-gauge wire, each 25cm long. Bunch them together and wrap the entire length of the stem with parafilm tape. Wrap the stem with light green paper strip, securing with PVA glue.
2. Cut one 1 x 10 cm strip of light brown paper, one 2 x 12 cm strip of light brown paper, and one 2 x 12 cm strip of yellow paper. Fringe the top two-thirds of each paper strip.
3. Layer 1: Wrap the unfringed edge of the shorter light brown strip around one end of the stem, securing with PVA glue.
4. Layer 2: Wrap the yellow strip around the base of layer 1, securing with PVA glue.
5. Layer 3: Wrap the second light brown strip around the base of layer 2, securing with PVA glue.
6. Using lavender double-sided paper, cut eight petals with template A and 48 petals with template B. (To hasten this process, stack several pieces of paper together before cutting, making sure that the grains are aligned.) Curl all the petals.
7. Layer 1: Using PVA glue, attach all of the A petals evenly around the base of the flower centre.
8. Layer 2: Attach 12 of the B petals evenly around the base of layer 1.
9. Layers 3–5: Attach 12 of the B petals evenly around the base of the previous layer.
10. Cover the base of the flower with light green paper strip, securing with PVA glue.
11. Using the olive double-sided paper and following the Basic Leaf method (see below), make two leaves with template C.
12. Use PVA glue to attach the leaves to opposite sides of the stem, 10 cm below the base of the flower.
13. Bend the stem and curl the leaves to create a natural look.
How to: Basic Leaf & Stem
1. Cut one 9 cm piece of 22-gauge wire. Wrap the entire length of the stem with light green paper strip, securing with PVA glue.
2. Cut one 16 x 8 cm piece of olive double-sided paper, then place it on a flat surface with the desired colour facing up. Fold the paper in half across the grain, then cut along the fold to create two squares. Holding firmly, cut the squares across the diagonal to make two pairs of triangles. Keep each triangle pair together.
3. Place one triangle pair on a flat surface. Slide the top triangle across about 5 mm to reveal the hypotenuse (long side) of the bottom triangle. Use a toothpick to apply a small amount of PVA glue along the hypotenuse of the bottom triangle.
4. Slide the top triangle back into place, gluing the two hypotenuses together. Gently press down with your thumb to secure the join. Allow the glue to dry completely.
5. Once the glue has dried, use a toothpick to apply a small amount of PVA glue along the hypotenuse of the top triangle.
6. Holding the bottom triangle with one hand, use your other hand to open the top triangle as far as you can. Use your thumb to gently press down on the fold, securing the join. Allow to dry completely.
7. Place the paper on your work surface with the fold (spine) perpendicular to your body, and with the paper grains running upwards and outwards from the spine.
8. Place the template on top of the piece of paper, with the spines aligned and the bottom of the template closest to your body. Cut around the template to make a leaf.
9. Adhere the top 3 cm of the stem to the back of the leaf using PVA glue.
10. Gently curl the top part of the leaf.
This project can be time consuming when you are making large flower arrangements. The following direct leaf cutting methods may be used for faster results.
A. Direct leaf cutting using 180 gsm paper: Cut one or more leaves from the paper using the template. Curl and cup each leaf, then attach to a stem using PVA glue or parafilm tape.
B. Direct leaf cutting using 60 gsm paper: Cut one or more leaves from the paper using the template, then create a fold along the spine of each leaf. Curl each leaf, then attach to a stem using PVA glue or parafilm tape.
C. Direct leaf cutting using double-sided paper: Cut one or more leaves from the paper using the template, then create a fold along the spine of each leaf. Attach each leaf to a stem using PVA glue or parafilm tape.
Additional techniques for Zinnia flower
STEM WRAPPING WITH CREPE PAPER STRIP
In this book, we use two different weights of crepe paper to make strips: 180 gsm and 60 gsm. The 180 gsm paper strip is used to thicken the flower stem, whereas the 60 gsm paper strip is used to wrap the stem for finishing. Note that these strips are not the same as the crepe paper ‘streamers’ you can buy from party suppliers, which are usually wider. When cutting strips from a roll of crepe paper, make sure you cut across the grain and maintain a consistent width. Keep the length of your working strip to a 30 cm maximum, especially if you are new to flower making. To wrap a stem, first apply a small amount of PVA glue to one end of the stem, then attach one end of the paper strip. Hold the top of the stem with your thumb and index finger, while pressing the length of the stem against your palm with your pinkie and ring fingers. Wrap the paper strip around the stem in a downwards spiral, stretching the paper gently in the process. Wrap until the stem is completely covered, then cut away the excess paper. Secure the end of the strip with PVA glue.
ATTACHING PETALS/LEAVES WITH PVA GLUE
Using a toothpick, dab a small amount of PVA glue onto the bottom 5–10 mm of the petal or leaf. Place the base of the petal/leaf against the stem and gently apply pressure to secure. To get the dried glue off your fingers, without having to constantly wash your hands, apply hand lotion, then wipe it off using a dry towel.
CUTTING SHAPES WITH TEMPLATES
The templates are actual size, and the two lines on each template show the direction of the paper grain. If you are new to flower making, I suggest cutting out one shape at a time using your templates. Once you have gained more control, you can cut multiple shapes at once by folding or stacking several pieces of paper together. When doing this, use a bulldog clip to secure the template to the layers of paper while cutting, moving the clip as you go.
Curling can be done using a bamboo skewer or with a pen or the end of a paintbrush. To curl a petal, hold the bottom of the petal with your thumb and index finger. Hold the bamboo skewer in your other hand. Place the middle of the petal between the skewer and your thumb, then gently draw the skewer outwards, curling the petal in the process.
Fringing can be done using fringing scissors or normal scissors. I recommend using normal scissors, as you will have more control over the shape and size of the fringe. Always cut along the grain when fringing.
This edited excerpt comes from Flowersmith: How to handcraft and arrange enchanting paper flowers, by Jennifer Tran, published by Hardie Grant and available from all good book stores.