If you like creating things out of paper, you need to check out crepe paper if you haven't already. I make a lot of flower out of paper, but my usual is book pages, which is really nifty because of the personalization factor and books are just amazing, but as far as making things, it has limitations. It is floppy, it will tear easily if you try to manipulate it too much, it doesn't like getting wet. But crepe paper is a whole new level of paper fun.
I'm not talking the crepe paper that you hang up for birthday parties, though I suppose in a pinch, that would make some nice things too. I'm talking about heavy duty crepe paper that you can stretch and pull and make into great shapes, really realistic flower shapes.
I have played around with crepe paper flowers on and off for a few years and I need to do it more. It really lets you be more of a sculptor with paper. Its really fun. Whenever I am working with crepe paper, my kids will wander into my art room and start playing with the scraps, stretching and twisting the paper into shapes. It is a little addictive.
Paper flowers have been around for a long time. Who doesn't want flowers that don't fade when you pick them? Paper was first invented in China and apparently early on, they were making flowers.
Photo: from the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum
Crepe paper is thin paper that has been treated with a sizing and rolled through a machine, scraped and various processes to make it crinkly which gives it some stretchiness, some of it has a lot of stretchiness. This allows it to be molded, rolled and sculpted into amazing shapes that will hold.
Victorian women in Europe and the United States made crepe paper flowers for decorations for holidays when flowers were not in season. By the 1920s, crepe paper roses and flowers were in DIY books for making decorations and gifts. There seems to have been another surge in crepe paper art in the 1970s. And now, I seem to be running into amazing photos of crepe paper flowers everywhere. Currently my instagram feed is filled with amazing, lifelike crepe paper flowers which is pretty great.
Types of Crepe Paper
Paper comes in different weights depending on use and crepe paper is no different. What you want for flowers, is the good thick stuff. It is almost like fabric. It comes in rolls and is able to hold up to really stretching it. The type that I have been playing with is 180 gram Italian paper. There are so many places to get the paper but the place I have used the most is called Carte Fini but there are lots of other great ones. Another store that has so many pretty things is Castle In The Air and they also have tutorials and a lot of awesome inspirational pictures and videos there. Crepe paper comes in 180 and 160 gram and also thinner 90 gram. You can make flowers out of the crepe paper strips that you get for birthday party decorating, I have done that before, but once you try some actual crepe paper, you will be hooked.
Ways to Play with Crepe Paper
I am still learning about this stuff, I want to spend lots more time playing with it but here are a few basic views of the fun stuff it can do.
You can roll edges with a tiny dowel, a hat pin, a paint brush to get beautiful curled edges.
If you press and pull out on a piece of paper in the center, you will get a bubble which is great for making petals.
You can curl edges with a scissors as if you are curling ribbon.
Cutting strips of crepe to make it fringy is a great way to make centers of flowers or tiny petals.
There is an amazing array of colors that this stuff comes in, including ombre and metallic, but you can also add chalk, ink, paint, bleach, spray with water, so many things! I'm only just beginning to play and learn about this stuff.
There are so many amazing artists out there who work with crepe paper! It is easy to look around and find places to be inspired. Do a quick search for crepe paper flowers and you will be inundated with pretty. Because it is fairly easy to make realistic petal shapes out of crepe paper, take a look at real flowers and how they bend and fold and then recreate it with paper. Here are a few flowers I have made in the last few weeks while I have been playing.
This flower along side the Tolkien quote may or may not be based on a flower in a video game. :)