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.

Sep 302014

I seem to be on a roll this week, crafting paper flowers from Spellbinders dies. The flowers from the previous two days had lots of pieces and took quite a while to assemble, so today I decided to do an easy one using the Spellbinders “Blooms One” Die D-Lite, which consists of three daisy-like florets. No instructions were provided, likely because it is obvious that you’re supposed to cut out your shapes, stack them, and stagger the petals.


Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Take a good, close look at how thin each petal is, and you’ll understand. I used my standard Big Shot™ cutting platform instead of following the instructions provided by Spellbinders. They suggest building your paper-and-parts “sandwich” from the bottom, starting with a Solo Platform, Solo Shim, Wafer Thin Die Adapter, Cutting Pad, Spellbinders die with the ridges facing up, paper, and Cutting Pad. No way, I thought. That’s too many pieces to fuss with. I used my Solo Platform and two Cutting Pads, and ran it through the Big Shot™. It certainly cut the paper, but it didn’t cut all the way through. I attempted the same procedure no fewer than six times before it occurred to me I might need a shim to apply more pressure for a clean cut. Guess I’m a slow learner. In desperation, I used the envelope-style package for the die set as my shim. It was handy, so why not? I rushed the process, and cut a nice little flower shape in the package instead.


Wait a minute, I thought. Didn’t you buy a Magnetic Platform for wafer thin dies? And isn’t a Spellbinders die essentially a wafer thin die? I grabbed my Magnetic Platform, laid a Cutting Pad on top of it, set down the die and covered it with paper, and topped the “sandwich” with another Cutting Pad. Thankfully, this worked very well. I had to use a paper piercer to remove the paper die cut from the die, but that’s what you actually want to do, rather than having to separate a cutout from its background. The paper flower is wedged into the top of the die, and in the back of the die are holes where you use your paper piercer to poke out the shape.

Using the Blooms One dieI went ahead and punched out two more sizes of the flower, and each one punched cleanly. Finally. But then I looked again at how thin the petals in each floret are, and realized that a stacked flower with these shapes would be too fragile to use on a book cover. Hmmm. But not if I give it a foundation.


I pulled out my Donna Salazar Rose Creations die set, and selected one flower and two leaves to use as a foundation for the spindly flowers above. This is actually a Spellbinders die set, and it is one of my favorites. I ordered it online from Amazon because I couldn’t find it locally.


When I had cut out all of the pieces for my flower, this is what they looked like. I was ready to build my blossom, and I must say that this is what I had in mind today, when I was looking for a simpler flower to craft.


I sprayed all of the pieces with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Pearl, and then dried them with a heat gun. Then I realized I should have used Distress Ink on the edges before spraying them to make the pieces stand out more. My compromise was to use Copic markers instead. These alcohol-based markers work on just about anything and don’t smear.


To give the flower some dimension, I reached for my McGill embossing mat and an embossing stylus, and used a circular motion to break up the paper fibers, cup the flower petals and curve the leaves. Spraying the pieces with that Glimmer Mist helped, too, since it causes the paper to bend when you dry it with a heat gun. I also used a small stylus to “draw” veins in the leaves.


The last step for my flower was gluing the pieces together, and adding an adhesive pearl to the center. This went together so much faster than yesterday’s flower! I really like the addition of the Blooms One pieces to the Donna Salazar flower. I don’t think I would use the Blooms One florets alone, unless the flower was for a greeting card or scrapbook layout that would not see heavier use. If you have a lot of scrap paper (as I do), crafting paper flowers is a productive way to use up those little bits of paper. And it’s much more fun to create an imaginary flower instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions, too. I hope you give paper flower crafts a shot!

IMG_4794© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 292012

This month, Margaret of Splendid Little Stars challenged fellow Blogging Business Artisans members to “create a project that calls to mind how one or all the senses respond to this new beginning time of year.” What calls to both my visual and olfactory senses is flowers, but unfortunately I can’t grow them for dust! The next best thing, at least for me, is any flower that doesn’t require water to survive—in other words, a handmade representation. If you visit my JN Originals and Mister PenQuin shops on Etsy, you’ll notice that many of my products include floral embellishments. This is no accident. I am on a one-woman mission to replace all of the poor blossoms I have forgotten to water over a lifetime.

That’s enough about my botanical failings, however. The way I decided to meet Margaret’s April challenge was to create floral embellishments I can adhere to the covers of mini books I make.  In a previous post, The tutorial that wasn’t, you may recall that my first attempt to meet this challenge didn’t go so well, since I broke my Big Shot® die cutting machine in the process. The fault was entirely my own, of course, since I didn’t follow the manufacturer’s recommended instructions. I ended up, in fact, ordering a replacement Big Shot®. It was an expensive lesson.

The flower I was attempting to emulate (before I broke my die cutting machine) was supposed to look somewhat like the one in the Mini Gratitude Journal shown below. This particular floral embellishment is made by Basic Grey and is called “Bloomers.” (You can click on the any of the photos, by the way, to see the same item in my shop.)

After my Big Shot® die cutting machine replacement arrived, I pulled out my cutting dies once more, this time following the manufacturer’s instructions. I cut out floral shapes from both paper and Creatology™ Foam Sheets that you can buy at Michaels. I layered them, and inserted a Making Memories pebble brad.

I wasn’t finished with my floral experiment, though. What I really wanted to make was a 3-D flower about the same size as Prima Flowers. If you have never seen one of these sparkly little blooms, take a look at this Mini Gratitude Journal that includes one on its cover.

With the help of a video tutorial called Flower Tutorial using distress ink by Creations with Christina, along with a little experimentation and no distress ink at all, I created my own glittery layered flower. Christina’s instructions call for you to cut out two large, two medium and one small floral shape using the Tim Holtz Alterations Tattered Florals cutting die. On a larger project, this would probably work well, but I was aiming for a Prisma Flower-sized embellishment. Instead, I cut four medium flowers and one small flower.

I misted the flowers with water until they were quite wet, then crumpled then into tiny balls. Carefully, I opened up each flower, and dried each one with a heat gun. I added a pearl to the center of the small flower first, cupping the petals around the pearl. Next, I layered the remaining flowers, curving them upward a little as I adhered each one. When I was finished, I spray misted the entire flower with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Pearl to give it a sparkly effect, then dotted it with Inkssentials™ Glossy Accents dimensional medium before pouring glitter over the entire flower. I tapped off the excess glitter, re-heated the flower with the heat gun to dry it, and affixed it to the Mini Blank Book shown below. What do you think?

I really liked the first flower, but wondered what it might look like in black. It took very little time to create another flower.

Creating these tiny little flowers is quick, easy, and fun. I can see myself customizing each mini book with a different one. The added bonus is that these flowers cost a fraction of the packaged, purchased floral embellishments. What’s your favorite way to make paper flowers?

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.