April has arrived with sheer joy as we welcome bright Spring sunshine and luscious blooms for many of us in the West! Carte Fini is very excited to welcome back Ms. Tiffanie Turner of papelsf and corner blog with a spectacular DIY that is an absolute delight and wonderful way to usher in this new season….thank you Tiffanie for your artistry, your splendid presentation!
Hi everyone! I am so happy to be back as Carte Fini's featured artist, sharing a project that is very close to my heart. I created these "closed" peonies as part of my giant paper peony piñata tutorial last year. There was one innocently hanging in a tree with the other larger, more open peonies, and since then I have received dozens of requests for a tutorial. With spring upon us and wedding season on the way, I thought it was about time to write this all down, so that everyone can have some giant flower love hanging at their next party.....or wedding!
Let's get started!
Great peony colors include from left to right: #570 (pink suede), #548 (baby pink) and my new favorite #577 (french vanilla). For center stamens try #566 (lime pulp) or #576 (goldenrod).
First you'll need to prepare the paper mâché base with its large recessed end to hold most of the petals. This is the same technique I used for my giant peony piñatas last year, and is the key to making these flowers so special.
To create that recess, lop around 2 1/2" of the dried paper maché balloon from the round end, OPPOSITE of where the balloon was tied off.
Invert that piece back into the balloon, creating a concave end. Tape to hold in place as needed, and stitch all around the rim through the paper mâché with the upholstery needle and thread. Finally, run a bead of hot glue over the stitching for extra reinforcement.
Stretch strips of crepe paper in the color you will be using and hot glue them around the rim of the bowl you just created, to conceal the stitching. Measure 6 1/2" down* from the rim all around and lop off the other end of the paper mâché shape. Make sure the base is fairly level and sits nicely.
*To reduce the size of the final peony and the amount of petals you will need, you can reduce the height of the base to 5" tall as opposed to 6 1/2". It all depends on how round and how large you want the final result to be. This tutorial is using the 6 1/2" tall base as described above.
Next, pre-cut your petals. This is one of the only pieces I make out of crepe paper that has a fairly definite number of petals, and pre-cutting them makes everything go faster.
The petals are laid out below on a 1" x 1" grid. Use the grid as a guideline to cut the first petal of each shape, then you can use that as a template to cut around as you cut out the rest of the petals. Quantities of each type of petal are listed below the respective photos.
Type #1: 10 petals; type #2: 18 petals; type #3: 20-25 petals; type #4: 15-20 petals; type #5: 12 petals; type #6: 12 petals.
Quantities may vary depending on size of paper mâché base.
Type # 7: 6 petals; type #8: 6 petals.
Type #9: 20 petals; type #10: 15 petals.
You will be working in the paper mâché "bowl" first. This is where a bulk of the work is, and where petal types 1-6 are located.
Type #1 (10 petals):
Stretch and cup both sides of this heart-shaped petal, as well as cupping the center. These are the petals that start to envelop everything else within the peony. Apply hot glue to the bottom 3" +/- and glue to the inside of the top rim as shown. Space five of these evenly around the perimeter, then infill between them with five more.
The petals should stick up above the rim of the bowl around 4" (see photo on right, below).
When all 10 type #1 petals are in place, your peony should look something like this. You can stretch and cup these petals again if needed to arrange them just so.
Type #2 (18 petals):
Stretch and cup the top of this petal until it forms a nice scooped shape. Add a bead of glue down the center of the bottom half and squeeze it together to help maintain the cupped shape. I like to glue some of these so that they will "hug" the next type of petal we put in, but I like some of them to be compressed or just random looking. You are going for organized chaos within the flower! Apply hot glue to the back of the petal stems, and crowd them in around the inside of the bowl, the tops stepped down just a 1/4" or so from the type #1 petals.
Type #3 (20-25 petals):
Cup and pinch these petals as well. Place them around the interior of the peony, locating the tops of these petals down about 1/2-3/4" from the tops of the #2 petals. Some of these should tuck into the type #2 petals, others should just crowd along next to each other, willy-nilly!
Type #4 (15-20 petals):
Repeat same instructions as with the type #3 petals, locating the tops down about 1/4" from the tops of the #3 petals.
It should be looking really good in there by now. So pretty!
Type 5 and 6 (12 of each petal):
These get a simple cupping, then get glued in place about 1/2" down from the previous types. In the end, you want them to seem as if they are just growing and beginning to unfurl, cupping themselves around the area where the stamen will be at the center.
At this point it's a good time to create the stamen. I have developed a fun technique for making a realistic looking stamen, and you can find the tutorial for it here.
When your stamen is finished and fits nicely in the recess at the interior of your peony, add a good amount of hot glue to the end (you can use it as a leveler if need be) and carefully center and glue the stamen inside of the peony. It should be just peeking out through the innermost petals. You could substitute a crepe paper tassel if you want something simpler, but this stamen brings the piece up a level, for sure!
Before you move on to the outer layers of the peony, I'll show you a few options for hanging.
For stability, I like to glue a strip of stretched crepe around the perimeter of the base of the peony. I also like to use grommets to be extra sure the hangers don't tear through the holes. I space three sets of two holes evenly around the perimeter of the base, about 1" or so up from the bottom. The holes are 2 1/4" apart. If you want, you can make individual hangers out of picture wire as shown on the bottom left, but I like to thread picture wire all around the base as shown on the bottom right. It helps the shape from distorting over time, and if you attach one of those long inner lengths of wire to a monkey hook, the flower will hang flat against the wall.
The most important thing to remember to is add the hanging holes and wire now, as they will be permanently obscured by petals. Always plan on hanging your peony from a hanger located on the inside, whether you dangle it from above or hang it on a wall.
Now you're ready to complete the exterior of the peony.
Type #7 (6 petals):
Cup these petals very full and round. If you like a fluted or ruffled top for some (or all) of your petals, just lightly pinch the top edges and pull gently to stretch, resulting in a frilly edge. Sometimes creating a little seam a the bottom of a petal will help create more of a cupped shape, but it is not always necessary.
Apply a section of hot glue about 1" high to the bottom inside of the petal, and press into place. Really think about your profile as you add each petal. If you are seeing gaps, infill with type #2 petals as needed.
Type #8 (6 petals) and type #9 (20 petals):
Stretch, cup and glue six ruffled petals around the previous #7 petals. All of the petals should cup the ones before them. Pull up a nice "closed peony" image from the internet if you need some help remembering what a peony looks like. That can be very helpful. Continue the same way until you've moved down the base so there is only an inch or two of exposed paper mâché remaining.
Type #10 (15 petals):
These last petals really define what the outside of the peony will look like. If one is looking a little funky, consider removing it and trying again! Stretch and cup them as usual, and glue to the base just at the bottom like with the others. Move around and down the peony with the petals. If you come to an area where the wire hanger lays, glue above and below it so it will still be able to move when needed and not damage you petals.
As I mentioned before, if you are finding places where you look in between the petals, feel free to infill with smaller ones. When you get to the bottom of the peony base, glue the petals to the inside, then apply glue as shown below at the outer rim and flip the petals up into that glue.
Make sure you are overlapping the outer petals to leave no gaps. Between the overlapping and the glue, the giant out petals should stay in place. If you find some flopping back down, try a little more glue at the base, or if worse comes to worst, tack them together near the tops with a little dab of glue here and there.
It really is a spectacular piece when it is finished, isn't it? This one measures 24" across by 13" deep, but it is very easy to go bigger or smaller, just by enlarging or reducing your base and petal sizes.
That was a long one to read, but if you precut petals this can be done in less than a day! If you end up making any of these wonderful crepe paper peonies for yourself, please let us know!