Mar 122017

Each time I craft a paper flower for the cover of one of my handmade books, it turns out differently, which is probably why I enjoy making flowers so much. The surprise factor keeps the process fresh. That being said, this weekend I made two paper flowers using the same set of Donna Salazar Carnation Creations dies by Spellbinders, with different results each time.

I described how I used these dies previously in How to make a paper flower using ink, water and scrunched paper. At that time, I stacked nine layers of floral shapes, inserting a brad through them. I spray-misted the layers with water, then scrunched them around the brad. When I spread apart the layers, they ended up looking like a rose. Of course, there were a few other steps I took along the way to add color to the bloom.

The trick to creating nice-looking 3-D paper flowers is having enough layers. The fuller you want your flower to look, the more layers you will need. For my purposes, I like to use five to nine layers. But the tools and techniques you use to manipulate the petals also make a difference. I made two completely different flowers this weekend using nine layers of flower shapes, all cut with Donna Salazar Carnation Creations dies. The only difference between the flower shapes was in the quantity of each type of shape. You’ll notice that I stamped the white Bazzill card stock with a Hero Arts rubber stamp called Old French Writing, inked up with Hero Hues Chalk Ink in Latte.

For the first flower, I literally ran each floral cut under the faucet, then shook off the excess water, scrunched it up, and gently pried apart the petals. Then I dried it with a heat gun.

I glued the layers together using Scotch Tacky Glue, then ran a Tim Holtz Distress Ink pad in Rusty Hinge against the tips of the petals. After I spray-misted the layered flower with water to make the ink run, I dried it with a heat gun.

All that was missing was a center pearl. I had some white adhesive pearls and decided to color one of them with a Copic marker (E95) to match the flower and pick up some of the color in the book cover. You need an alcohol-based ink to make sure it adheres to the slick surface of the pearl.

For the second flower, I pre-inked the floral shapes with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Tattered Rose.

Then I manipulated the flower petals using a combination of flower shaping tools from my McGill™ Paper Blossoms Tool Kit.

After I glued together the layers of the flower, I applied one of those white adhesive pearls to the center. Finally, I adhered both flowers to their respective book covers using Beacon Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive. This is my go-to substitute for a glue gun, as the glue is acid-free where glue gun adhesive is not. It’s also far less bulky. Although both flowers have nine layers, they are markedly different. The first flower—which was scrunched—is a fuller flower. The second flower’s layers were manipulated with flower shaping tools. While it is a full flower, it lies flatter.

It’s a lot of fun to experiment with flower cutting dies and assembly techniques. From the photos in this post, you can see that the same set of floral dies—Donna Salazar Carnation Creations—yielded different results each time I applied a new technique. Can you add a variation to these techniques with similar dies?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 272015

It occurs to me as I write today’s post that I have probably written more posts about how to make paper flowers than any other topic—and this one is the ninth. I suppose that’s not only because I love flowers, but also because it’s my favorite book cover embellishment and my favorite part of the bookbinding process. So, here is today’s flower, half of which is based on Mistra Hoolahan’s tutorial, Carnation Flower Tutorial, and half of which is based on my own method. I’m not sure if this looks more like a carnation, a rose or a hybrid bloom, but to me it looks like a real flower of some kind. Much as I love flowers, I’m not good with flower names or identification. And I don’t believe realism is a requirement when you’re creating art!

This item is available in my shop. Just click on the image to view it.

To make this flower, you’ll need to select one of your floral cutting die sets that comes in different sizes. You could also combine dies from several different sets. I think the results will look similar, no matter which one you use. I used a Spellbinders Shapeabilities die set, Donna Salazar Carnation Creations, cutting three each of the five largest sizes. The two smallest sizes and the leaves are not used. If you use fewer layers, your flower will look less full. If you use more, it will be very full indeed!

Donna Salaza Carnation Creations

This die set, Donna Salazar Carnation Creations, has apparently been discontinued, but you probably can still find it online.

Cut three each of the five largest flowers.

Cut three each of the five largest flowers.

I use a Sizzix® Big Shot die cutting machine to cut out shapes from my wafer thin dies, but lately I’ve been using a new accessory with it, the Sizzix® Precision Base Plate, which takes the place of one of the acrylic cutting mats. This accessory enables you to cut detailed shapes without having to fussy-cut them afterward, which sometimes happens when a die shape is intricate. In addition, since the metal never wears out, you extend the life of your acrylic cutting mat this way.  I build a “sandwich” consisting of the Sizzix® Magnetic Platform, the Sizzix® Precision Base Plate, paper, the die with the cutting ridges down, and an acrylic cutting mat.

Sizzix Precision Base Plate

Sizzix Precision Base Plate

Grab yourself a paper brad, any brad—it doesn’t matter what it looks like since it won’t be seen in the final product—and assemble the three sizes of smaller flowers, a total of nine, staggering the petals. Then you’ll spray the flat-flower combination with water. I used a Ranger Mini Mister, which is quite handy for this purpose.

Beginning of center florette

Lifting each petal, layer by layer, you’ll scrunch it around the brad until it forms the bud of the flower. If the paper dries out as you work with it, don’t be afraid to re-spray it.

This bud is only partially completed. The remaining layers need to be scrunched upward and around the other petals.

This bud is only partially completed. The remaining layers need to be scrunched upward and around the other petals.

Then, flip the bud upside down and tap it several times into a water-based ink pad. I used Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Victorian Velvet.

Tapping the bud into water-based ink

Spray the flower with water again to make the ink run, and gently separate the paper layers—but don’t separate them so much that you flatten them. I used a quilling tool to help separate the layers, but a toothpick would work, too. Then you can either air-dry the florette, or speed up the drying process with a heat gun, moving it frequently so that you don’t burn the paper. This forms the center of your flower.

The completed center florette

Next, take the remaining two sizes of flowers, six flowers in all, and ink the edges.

Inking the edges of the bottom flowers

Spray these six flowers with water, then scrunch each one into a ball. Open up each flower, and let it air-dry or dry with the heat gun. When you wet the paper and scrunch it up, this breaks the paper fibers. When the paper dries, it is more apt to stay in its scrunched shape than if you had not wet the paper first. Because the flower will be fairly damp as you work with it, you will want to work with good-quality, sturdy paper to prevent tearing. I used Bazzill Basics in Buttercream. I suspect watercolor paper would work beautifully, too.

As you can see, I used Scotch Quick Drying Tacky Glue. You may prefer to use a hot glue gun, but I'm not a fan of hot glue because it's not acid-free.

As you can see, I used Scotch Quick-Drying Tacky Glue. You may prefer to use a hot glue gun, but I’m not a fan of hot glue because it’s not acid-free.

Beginning with the largest flower, glue the flowers together, making sure you stagger the petals. This creates the bottom part of the final flower. Finally, glue the center florette on top. Let the glue dry, and you’re finished!

Completed Flower

If you enjoy, as I do, the process of making paper flowers, you may wish to read my other flower tutorial posts:

Have some tips you’d like to share about making paper flowers? Include them in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.