I love roses above any other flower. It is always so sad that the most gorgeous bunch is temporary and I have often taken photos to remember various roses I have had. If only they would last.
So I was determined to learn how to make these roses and looked into who this lady was and any instructions she shared and began to experiment. This was almost thirty years ago! I have made so many roses since then.
I considered posting the method on my blog ages ago but it has taken me forever to get these instructions and photos finished!
These can be made for pure pleasure for your home. A rose is well under a dollar to make. You can fill your house with roses in the colour of your choice. But they are also wonderful for gifts, decorations for weddings, parties, toppings for a parcel, fabulous table settings and just so many things.
There are a series of steps involved. I tend to make a heap at one time and do each step in batches so that I don't have to repeat the steps so often. Despite the steps they are actually very simple to do and every single rose will be individual. Truly no two are identical, just as with real roses.
Firstly the things you need...
Crepe paper. Mostly this is under $2 a packet and you will get about 4 roses from one packet.
Florist wire. You want a decent thickness that is strong enough to hold your flower up. Mine here is between 18 and 22 gauge. Thinner wire just makes droopy roses!
Alternatively you can cut wire from a roll of hardware shop wire. If you do cut them about 40cm or 14 inches long.
Florist tape. You want green. This comes in an either plastic or paper type tape, either way it is stretchy stuff. I will get to how to use it later. You can find this at Spotlight, craft stores, florist suppliers.
Cotton. Just some thread.
Dyes. Food coloring. Coffee. Tea. These are to colour the crepe paper to what colour you want. You only need small quantities. Spotlight sell a large variety of colours. They come as a powder and you only need a sprinkle.
I buy white crepe paper and dye it myself. This makes really realistic roses. It makes all the difference and takes minutes. BUT you can skip this whole step. In white especially they can still look really good. In colors they will look pretty however not so realistic. But still lovely for things like party decorations, topping parcels or cakes etc.
I choose soft colours and I aim for an antique look that is very soft. That is just because these are the roses I love. Full bloom generous David Austin type roses and old fashioned ones like Blue Moon. My very favourite are coffee creams... to make an antique lilac I mix coffee ( a tiny amount, blue and pink food color).
To get creams you can just use tea or coffee. Both of these give a great effect. For a really antique soft pink I use coffee with a little bit of pink food coloring or dye mixed in. Or tea and pink dye. To make mixes like this just experiment in bowls of warm water and see how they turn out. Test your result with a cotton bud or scrap of crepe paper first.
I start by cutting my crepe paper into four. I cut it in half then cut these each in half. No measuring, roughly right is fine! Each quarter will make one rose.
In a couple of bowls I mix my colours. I do this because its good to do two versions of your colour, one a little lighter than the other or some variation. Use warm water and add a little bit of what you have chosen. For soft colours you dont need much. I use a bit of crepe paper or a cotton bud to dip in the water and see how it is looking. If its too light add more colour and keep testing until you like it. If its too dark add more water.
Tea or coffee is very easy to work with. Food coloring is also easy. This is your choice. For deeper shades you will probably need dye. Dye is intense and hard to remove! Be careful, wear gloves or use tongs, protect your surfaces! Inside the laundry sink is a good place to work.
When you like your colour dip in your section of crepe paper. Dip it in for about one second! Don't leave it too long. I do this somewhere like the laundry sink and drape the dyed sections over something so they can drip dry. You do not want these sections to unfold, try and keep them together and neat.
It is good to remember wet colours usually look slightly darker than dry. So they will fade a little as they dry. Also it is good to know when the crepe paper is dry if you don't like the colour you can re dye them... but it will only work if you go darker or maybe soften a colour by adding coffee or tea over it. But you have some flexibility.
Once they have drip dried a bit I transfer them to my clothes horse to dry... I do this inside and lay paper towel on the floor. You could use a bathroom rail or dry outside... but don't use pegs to hold them on the line... the pegs leave indentations you cannot remove and ruin them. Depending on the weather they will take a couple of days to dry. And they need to be 100% dry before you go onto the next step.
When my crepe paper is dry I just store all these sections in a basket or box. Each section is going to create a flower. I am obsessed with soft colors and antique looking colors so mostly I go for softness. Imperfections and inconsistencies in the color will overall make for more realistic roses.
Now for the fun part!
I will start with a basic easy rose.
The first rose is something you just need to mess around with, make, take apart and play with as you get the hang of handing crepe paper. After you make a couple you will be unstoppable!
Firstly, we are cutting out our petals. This is my basic petal which you can trace if you want. A rough copy will be fine. I like to use the whole length of the section of crepe paper and cut them out many at a time. To do this draw your petal shape onto your crepe paper. The top and bottoms of the petal are the CUT top and bottom edges like this...
You get more petal by doing them this way ...one up and one down.
Your shape is not that important. I just sketch it on in a second and no two are probably ever the same! You just need a petal shape at the top with a handle at the bottom.
It is easiest of you do one section at a time or you will soon be drowning in petals.
Now to shape your rose petals. Each petal is a double thickness of paper. Two. Peel the petals away into a pile of double thickness petals.
Now you need a medium sized knitting needle. You are curling the top of each petal backwards to form that curl of a rose. Just roll your paper with the needle. Now at the same time stretch slightly the paper outwards as you roll. You will notice the paper is quite stretchy. At first it is ok to break a few until you get the hang of how much to roll and how much to stretch! thats ok! Crepe paper stretches one way only and that is why we have cut our paper this way, so that the stretch is across the width of the petal.
Once your petal has a roll use your fingers to lightly stretch the middle section under that to make a dip. Describing this could take forever... look at the shape you are aiming for...
Once you have a pile of these you are ready to make a rose.
To being assembling your first flower tie some cotton to your florist wire. You need a length of about the length of your arm.
Now place your wire into the middle (almost) of a petal and wrap and roll that petal to form a tube... coax it into a roll like in the centre of a flower. Wrap your cotton around the base to hold it.
Please ignore that I had more than one wire... I was using up some wire I had found too thin. Normally I would use one wire.
Next add a second petal. You are going to gently work around so you are overlapping each time, rather than lining up. Roll it up but a little less tightly than the last one. As you go up you want the petal to roll and the roll to turn outwards from the centre. Look at it from the top so you can see how the petals are looking. But honestly on your first one don't be too fussy.... look at it this way... the first few are an experiment and you are trying to get the hang of how it works!
Gradually add in petals. Over lap and fill in gaps. Look at it as a rose as you go and see it forming. You will soon see that as you start the petals are tightly wrapped and as you work outwards they are just placed where you want them.
Now you are seeing your rose start to bloom!
I am going to break here and go to Part 2. See you there! x