My fiancé is allergic to all the pollen from essentially ALL the flowers. Therefore, standard wedding decor — typically involving floral arrangements — was a challenge. I thought about succulents and other greenery, but we’re having a destination wedding, so the standard practice of taking home a centerpiece is not an option when people are getting on planes the next day.
Well, I have an expensive degree in painting from the Hartford Art School. I’m resourceful, crafty, and obsessed with efficiency. This lead to Operation Paper Roses.
From prototype to final product, here’s the recipe for making this fabulous paper rose bouquet…
Supplies for a single paper bouquet:
- One 6 inch green styrofoam ball (found in the floral dept)
- 3 chopsticks
- Generous pile of hot glue sticks
- 1 green 4oz. pack of Crayola Model Magic
- Elmers glue
- Small dish filled with 1–2 tablespoons of water
- 1 inch paint brush (cheap is great)
- 2 sheets of base color tissue paper (standard gift stuff)
- 20+ paper roses in varying size and color
- Ribbon to wrap the “stems”
- Long knife
- Tall vase or bottle
- Optional: 1 package of large pearl beads (assorted sizes)
Using the longest knife you own, sliver off about 1.5 inches of foam to create a flat base for where the hands can rest.
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NOTE: This is going to get messy. Get that dustbuster charged up and ready to suck up all the styrofoam crumbs.
Mark the center of the flat side of the styrofoam ball. Making a triangle, stick each chopstick in at an angle so that they taper (just like stems would in real life). Pull chopstick out, add a drop of hot glue inside hole, place chopsticks back into holes. You now have a handle.
Place bald bouquet in a tall vase/bottle. (This serves as a mobile pedestal and makes life so much easier when layering on paper and flowers.)
Tear the base color tissue paper into small rectangles, about 1×2 in size. We used a rich, blood red color because it matched the shadows under the paper roses. This will help hide any gaps between the paper roses as well.
Pour a tablespoon of Elmers glue into the small water dish. Using the cheap paint brush, stir to blend into a thin watery gluey solution. Paint a 3×4 area on the styrofoam ball. Place slices of tissue paper on this area and brush the glue solution on top. (It’s just like paper mache or decopage.) Keep painting new areas on the foam ball and layering tissue paper like shingles. Be sure to do the same on the flat underside as well.
Please note: These will take a few hours to dry because the tissue paper is like a sponge when it comes to the gluey goodness. But that’s why we do this first and move on to making roses next…
Get your rose-making engines started! That is, heat up the glue gun, grab some scissors, and cut out lots of circles from 3-5 inches in diameter. Once you have all your circles ready, cut a spiral from outside to center, leaving a small circle about the size of a quarter in the middle. Using the end of a paintbrush or pen, roll from the outside in. When you get to the center, let go and see where the “petals” land. Bend the curled paper out of the way and run a few lines of hot glue across that small circle in the center (the base). Press the curled spiral down onto the glue and hold for a few seconds.
When your shingled styrofoam lollypop is dry, grab the glue gun and start placing roses all around the ball. Nestle them close together like they’re best buds about to hug. This snuggling of roses will help avoid large gaps in between. Also, for those closest to the base, allow the roses to hang off the edge a bit to hide the raw shape of the styrofoam.
Open up the package of Crayola Model Magic and tear off about half of it. Using your hands, roll it into a long snake. Press the modeling foam into the armature of the handle (stem) and begin to fill the center up. Wrap the foam around the outside (you may need to create a flat “pancake snake”) to cover any remaining bits of chopsticks. At this point you can mold the handle into your hands and make the shape more ergonomic. Let dry overnight.
Once the handle is dry (use a hair dryer the next day if it still feels damp), grab your spool of ribbon. Starting at the base (on the cut side of the styrofoam ball), about a half inch from the handle, glue the end of your first strip of ribbon. Wind it around WITHOUT gluing first, just to see how and where you’ll need to apply glue. Wrap the ribbon around as far as you can, and when you get to the very tip of where the chopsticks taper, allow the ribbon to fold over to help cover the raw ends. Work your way around the handle from the base and up, like a May Pole, until 100% covered.
Recreate the glue/water solution one last time. Take the remaining shingles of tissue paper and brush them over the funky glued edges of the ribbon. Work your way around to create a finished look on the underside. Let dry for a few hours.
The bridesmaids and I felt like the addition of large pearl beads in the center added a sophisticated touch the bouquets (it also hid any globs of hot glue). We used one package of large pearl bead mix per bouquet. Depending on the size of your flowers, you may need smaller beads or love the largest size.
“Dust” the paper bouquet and remove all strings left over from the hot glue. It’s a pain, but once it’s done, your masterpiece is COMPLETE!
Comments on How to make fabulous paper rose bouquets
Love alternative flowers! My first wedding, we did fake flowers because of allergies as well. We used Star Trek communicator pins instead of boutonnieres. I planned one wedding that to save money, we made bouquet flowers from old sheet music. And for my second wedding, my crystal fountain bouquet was my favourite DIY of the whole event. It sits on my buffet proudly and reminds me of a wonderful day. People are STILL talking about that bouquet. Flowers die, memories stay forever!
YES! Love this story! And seriously, what’s better than having keepsakes from your wedding that will last?!
Nice recipe, but I’m missing something- what kind of paper are you using to make the roses themselves out of, and about how much do you need to make the 20+ paper roses you list in the materials?
For the bouquets in the last photo, we used a very fibrous paper (like a super high quality tissue that almost felt like fabric), Canson paper, and hand-painted water color paper. The hand-painted paper made the biggest difference because it allow the “light” of the paper to come through and look more dynamic.
If you’d like more info on the papers, there’s another post on my blog where I outline all the paper purchased, tested, and what stores it came from. You can find that post here (scroll down to “Experiment B”): http://www.staceysdiylife.com/diy-wedding/paper-flowers-lean-ux/
I mainly did paper bouquets because I thought they would be fun, and it’s one of the best wedding decisions I made. I keep mine on our tea cabinet in the dining room and my husband has his boutonniere clipped to the fridge with a magnet so we get to look at them every day. They didn’t turn out as perfect as the ones in this post and I got a lot of glue gun burns but I love them soooo much.
Susan! Your glue gun comment has me in stitches because we had the same problems! Also, we made paper fan centerpieces that got crushed in the shipment and had to go out and BUY a fresh glue gun from Home Depot to repair them. Nothing is ever perfect but man, great photography does all of our hard work justice!
This is an amazing art really. I had joined the flower making class some years before. I can suggest you that we can also make these flowers from sponge paper with different spray colors, net cloth and from different colored craft papers. But color combination and decoration of your bouquet is also very marvelous and simply beautiful.
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