11 Jun 2010

Pretty Maids All in a Row... a Flower Tutorial

We used these watercolor flowers for our wedding, just to have some extras to decorate our tables and the window sills in the old barn where we held our reception.

Not only are they super easy, they're also really cheap to make! We only had to buy real flowers for bouquets. ( but you could use these for bouquets, really, if you wanted to!)
In bunches, they look like they were taken right out of one of Monet's paintings!

Grab your bridesmaids, and have a flower making party!


Circular Coffee filters (3-6 per flower, the more filters, the fuller the flower)
Florist Tape
Florist Wire/Stems
Tubed watercolor paints or Food coloring
Spray Bottle
Clothes Line and Clothes Pins

Fold the filters in half and flatten out the "waves".

Cut Petals out of the wavy part, down to the flat bottom. You can cut a little deeper down if you like
but just be sure that you leave some form of a base.
If you cut the petals sort of long and skinny with pointy ends, they end up looking more like peonies.
If you cut them more curvy with a slight point, they end up looking more like a tea-cup rose!
Play around with it, there really isn't a right or wrong way. It just depends on the look you are going for.
You can cut a stack of 3 at a time no problem. I've done 6 which was a little tricky, but doable.
Separate the layers, and pull the centres down into a point, and gently fold the petals up.
 You can use the end of a pencil or a chopstick to do this if you want but it's really pretty simple. You don't need it to be a perfect uniform shape.

Take the first bunched up layer, and place it into the centre of the second layer. Again, fold up the petals of the second layer. Make sure that you're pinching both layers from the bottom.
Repeat, until you have as many layers as you like and the flowers are as full as you want them to be.
I sort of take the layers apart several times, turn them around etc to get the shape I want. (If I have time to be choosy!)
This step is one that I added after making a lot of these flowers and having a hard time relying florist's tape alone to hold them together. After adding the staple, they hold together so much better, both while coloring them and while using them to decorate.

Holding the bottom of the flower and pinching all layers, staple the layers together. Make sure the staple is vertical, in the direction that a natural stem would be. If it's horizontal you'll run into some problems later when we go to put them on the stems. Also be sure that you get the staple through each layer.

You can either color your flowers now (before putting the stems on) or after. I've done it both ways, and both ways work. If you want to color them first, the directions are below.
To add the stems, take the bottom of the flower and line up the staple with the stem. You'll want about an inch of stem in the flower itself.
Pinch the base of the flower around the stem. You will need to *ever-so-slightly* fold the entire flower around the wire as you do this. Once it's taped it will fall back to it's original shape.
Tape the flower by folding it around so that it just overlaps itself. Go around several times before moving down the stem. Make sure to go down the stem about an inch to be sure it's secure.

To colour your flowers, you'll need the spray bottle, and liquid watercolour paints.
This is doable with food coloring, although the color isn't quite as rich, unless you're
doing a darker color like red.
For the pink ones, I used a mixture of permanent rose and cadmium Red. For the yellow flowers I used yellow ochre and cadmium yellow, with a touch of burnt umber.
If you want, play around with colors first on paper (scraps of the coffee filters would work!) and see what you get.

Once you get your colors mixed the way you like them, add them to the bottom of your spray bottle, and dilute them with water. (You'll need about 1 cup of water for 60 flowers...so easy does it. No need to go overboard.)
Test your spray paint on some scraps and see if you need to add more paint to the water. If you like, add a touch of scent or essential oil to the paint if you want scented flowers.

Put on an old t-shirt for this part. You're bound to get a little bit of paint on yourself with this part.

Take your flowers and your spray paint outside. (make sure it's not going to rain, as you'll need some time for these to dry. They dry really quickly in the sun.)
Hold your flower an arms length away and spray the flower from the centre, working your way out. Some of the paint will cause the petals to stick together a bit. Just separate them with your fingers and be sure to get the paint right down to the centre of the flower.

If you've already put on the stems, just fold the stems over the clothesline and let them hang upside down.
If you haven't put the stems on, Just pin them by the base (on the staple) so that they're facing down.
The reason you want them facing down, is because the paint will run to the edges of the paper, making them look all that more real once they're dried. It's really noticeable in the darker colors like pink and red. (see the pink flower below?)
They only take about an hour to dry on a sunny day. Make sure they're completely dry before putting the stems on, if you haven't already.

Voila! Pretty, Affordable, and they never wilt! Either save them for later use, or send them home with you guests:)


  1. this is a lovely tutorial! they look so pretty and it seems pretty easy to make too. I'll try to make some!

  2. So lovely! thank you for sharing!

    I was teaching my jh students how to make poppies from coffee filters but thee are stunners! Can't wait to try!