Making paper flowers
Natural plant dyes and sustainable tissue paper
All the dyes I use when making my paper flowers are from plant materials sourced locally and prepared by myself in small batches.
My Mahonia bark dye, for example, is from the annual clippings that would otherwise end up on my friend's bonfire. I trim the bark off and then I add the bare twigs to one of my wildlife piles to rot down naturally.
If I don’t need to use the bark to dye paper straight away then I spread it out on a home made frame to dry. It only takes a couple of weeks for the bark to dry completely and then I store it in recycled bags.
Mahonia bark is strongly coloured and needs very little time to produce a good dye. Used straight away it produces a pale colour, but leaving it overnight or even a couple of days gives darker shades.
Because Mahonia dye fixes quickly to the tissue paper it only takes a couple of seconds to achieve the palest of yellows. This also allows me to colour just one side of the paper at a time to make a two tone paper as shown below on the right.
Other barks like Pear are more subtle and the paper needs to be in the dye tray for many minutes.
The tissue paper I use is acid free FSC. Unfortunately I’m unable to use recycled tissue paper as I have found it to be too fragile and rips easily.
Once the paper is dry, it's very crinkly and needs a quick iron before it’s ready to use.
Making the delicate tissue paper flowers
When designing a new flower I like to use real flowers to draw the templates for the petals, to make them as realistic as possible.
I fold a paper strip over and over, and then use the card template to cut out multiple petals at once. Some of the roses I create have nine different shaped petals all adding to the flower’s natural look.
The petals are individually shaped and curled, and then glued one at a time onto a natural Midelino stick. The glue is a home-made flour based glue and needs to dry between attaching each delicate petal.
The final stage is to cover the stem with a strip of paper wrapped around the stick.
You can see many more beautiful paper flowers and bouquets on my flowers page.