Friday, 30 April 2010

Recycled Paper Flowers

As I was wandering the web I came across this amazing video of a technique called ‘origami crumpling’ developed by Vincent Floderer. Of course, being me I had to try it out; here is my first attempt using tissue paper – I dipped the base into Brusho and let it bleed up the paper to get the colour.

But then I wondered what would happen if I used just any old paper, and started with a page torn from a magazine. The result was so much like a flower that I kept going until I had a bunch of them – aren’t they great?

recycled paper flowers

To make these flowers I used a simplified version of the origami crumpling technique. Start with a page torn from a magazine and tear a strip off it to get a square – you don’t need to be too precise. It is a good idea to choose a page with a bright colour on one side only to start with, so you know which way up you are – this will be the inside of the flower.

Step 1
With the brightly coloured side of the paper on the outside, fold the square in half and then in half again to get a quarter size square.

Step 2
Now fold your quarter size square in half crosswise, open it out, fold it in half the other way and open it out again. Turn it over and repeat the process, folding diagonally this time.

With a bit of pinching of the folds you should have a star shape like this.

Step 3
Hold your star shape by the tip and squeeze the paper together so you end up with something like this.

Step 4
Open out your crumpled star and unfold one of the original folds. You will have one point pointing up, and one pointing down. ‘Pop’ the downward point up so you have something like this.

Put your 2 points together and squeeze, just like you did in step 3. You can roll the paper gently between your hands to help with the crumpling.

Step 5
Open your paper right out. You will have 2 points pointing up and 2 pointing down. With the bright side of the paper facing up, ‘pop’ the upward points down so you have this.

Turn it over and pinch all 4 points together (like making a fortune teller/cootie catcher – remember those?) and repeat the crumpling/rolling one last time. Gently open out your flower.

I have pushed some thin 18” canes into the centre of my flowers to make stems; I think those green plant support canes would do pretty well too. The stems stay put quite well but you could add a bit of glue or double sided tape if you wanted to.

finished recycled paper flower

And there you are – a bunch of flowers for next to nothing! When you get bored of the colour, or they get dusty or faded, just recycle the paper and make some new ones! I think they are a great idea for low cost eco-friendly party decorations. And of course if you wanted to go all sophisticated you could use proper origami paper, or wrapping paper – the possibilities are endless… recycled yellow pages might look good… or pages from the Financial Times…  This ball is made from 6 of the 'flowers' glued together with string threaded through the centre.

If you enjoyed the video, do take a look at this one where Vincent Floderer makes the most amazingly realistic mushroom out of tissue paper!


  1. how cool is this?! they look so effective. thanks for sharing the how-to. xx

  2. Very pretty - I've got to have a go at this!

  3. Great instructions - I shall have to give it a try. They look fabulous.

  4. Love them! They look great all together.

  5. Those videos are amazing, fabulous mushroom! Your simplified flowers are pretty too.

  6. I love these - I'm going to have a go! Thanks.

  7. Lovely off to cut up a magazine thanks for sharing
    Great work
    Hugs Suz x


Helen Smith, artist and maker in glass, print and stitch.


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