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Paper Peonies and Tissue Tulips: Build Your Own Beautiful Bouquet!

November 5, 2014

With last week’s opening of Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse, you might say we’re all abuzz with excitement here at the Museum. Although fall is just arriving, all we can think of are these beautiful blooms!

It’s easier than you might think to recreate some of your floral favorites at home. Try modeling your bouquet after one you might have seen or put together the posy of your wildest dreams. I took my inspiration from the DMA’s own Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase.

Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase (1776), Anne Vallayer-Coster

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase, 1776, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg

There are some great tutorials online for making your own paper flowers. Martha Stewart Weddings can show you how to make some really lovely, delicate flowers here, and the Rust and Sunshine blog (here) has easy to follow instructions to make a variety of blooms with a little bit of inventive folding. With the help of these tutorials, I made carnations, roses, and star lilies. I couldn’t find a tutorial I liked for making irises, so I designed my own! You can print off this template and follow the directions below to make them too.

A quick note before we get started: for some flowers (particularly irises and lilies, whose petals you want to stand up a little bit), you might find that a sturdier paper works better for you. This is the perfect time and place to experiment! I liked the unified look of having all my flowers made out of tissue paper, but it’s your bouquet, so you’re the boss.

What you’ll need to make irises:

  • Tissue paper in a variety of colors – blue, purple, and yellow are pretty common for irises, though they come in a number of other colors as well
  • Pipe cleaners or art wire (for the stems)
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Optional: paint, glitter, glue, markers, colored tape, vase

If you opted to use something like card stock instead of tissue paper, cut out only one each of Iris A and Iris B and skip ahead to Step 4. If you’re using tissue paper like me, you’ll need to take an extra step or two to give the petals a little structure, so start here.

1. Trace and cut out two each of Iris A and Iris B in your tissue paper of choice. Double-layering the tissue paper will help beef up the flower.

2. Roll six pieces of tape – one for each pair of petals – in on themselves, sticky side out. Lay one tape roll lengthwise along each petal of one set of Iris A and Iris B. Make sure you don’t cover up the very center of Iris B! This will make Step 4 a little easier.

3. Match up the second set of Iris A and Iris B with the first and press down, sandwiching the rolls of tape between the two layers of tissue paper.

4. With the point of a pen or pencil, poke a small hole right through the center of your Iris B cutout or tissue paper and tape sandwich. This is why you didn’t want to block the very middle with tape in Step 2! Be careful not to press too strongly – you don’t want to accidentally rip your flower base in half.

5. Make an L-shaped bend in the end of your wire or pipe cleaner and thread it through the hole you just made in Iris B. Adjust so that the bend end lies flat on Iris B and the remaining wire/pipe cleaner extends downwards in a straight line. Secure with tape.

6. Using three narrow pieces of tape, attach the bases of Iris A’s petals to the spots marked in the template with dashed lines. I suggest doing this so the tape pieces end up on the interior of the flowerand aren’t visible.

7. Finally, embellish with whatever extras strike your fancy – paint, markers, glitter, you name it – and arrange your completed iris with your other flower creations in a vase.

Bouquet of (Paper!) Flowers in a Blue Vase (2014), Jennifer Sheppard

Jennifer Sheppard, Bouquet of Paper Flowers in a Blue Vase, 2014

Voila! You now have a beautiful bouquet that needs no water…in fact, you probably shouldn’t have water anywhere near your nice new paper flowers, unless soggy is the look you’re going for! So skip that annoying watering step and enjoy these low maintenance blooms — and our blooming exhibition!

Jennifer Sheppard
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

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