Origami Paper Flower Topiary (the WTHWIT? project)

So there I was, happily folding Kusudama flowers for cocktail hour centerpieces, boutonnieres, etc., and thought I should make a topiary of these.  I wanted some more decor around our dessert/candy/ice cream bar, but also wanted to block off the tables, nicely, so guests wouldn’t indulge before the cake cutting.

After days upon days of folding these flowers, I began calling this the WTHWIT? project–as in–What The Hell Was I Thinking?  This took hundreds of flowers, each flower takes 5 petal folds –Well, you can do the math.

But, I really love how they turned out!

paper flower topiarypaper flower topiary 2origami flower topiary

So if you have lots of time to sit and fold (and fold, and fold)–like several seasons of Breaking Bad or Mad Men, this is the project for you!

What You’ll Need:

Paper–lots.  I used 12″x12″ because it easily cuts into 3″ &  4″ squares to make the Kusudama flowers.

Styrofoam ball, 2″-5″ smaller than the desired finished size of your topiary ball 

4″ wood skewers-100s of these (check the BBQ section of your supermarket)

Half inch or larger wood dowel or pvc pipe cut to 5″ inches shorter than desired finished height of your topiary

Pot(s) or container(s) for the base & method for hold dowel/pipe in place (e.g, packed sand/dirt, plaster of paris, cement, styrofoam)

Low temp glue gun & lots of glue sticks

diy topiary supplies


About $25 for both topiaries, with parts left over.

I spent about $10 on the nicer papers (12×12 sheets); I had the pvc pipe, but dowels cost about $.75 each; Plaster of Paris is about $10 for a large bag (which is more than you’ll need for 2 topiaries)-or use free dirt; the skewers were $.19 for a bag of 100; the 8″ styrofoam ball was the most expensive item at $8 retail, but I used a 1/2 off coupon for them; ribbon $2 for a spool of organza green 1.5″.

Step 1:

Cut your paper into 3″ and 4″ squares.  If you are doing a smaller topiary, you’ll probably want smaller flowers.  This is a design decision.

Get very comfortable.  Fold, fold, and fold some more.  For a tutorial on how to make these Kusudama origami flowers, check out this tutorial.

I used approximately 200 flowers per topiary to get the 12″ diameter I wanted.  Smaller topiaries will require less flowers.

Step 2:

Skewer your flowers.  Insert the pointy end through the top of your flower then pull through so there is about 1″ of the skewer left inside the flower (see the pics below).  Secure with a drop of hot glue on the base.

diy topiary 1paper flower topiary diy 2diy origami topiary 3

Step 3:

After you have many flowers made and skewered, start sticking.  The skewer on the end of the flower will increase the overall diameter of your finished topiary.  Now if you are like me and got sticker shock and the price of larger styrofoam balls ($20 for a 12″ –are you kidding me???), the skewer method is a much more economical choice.  Plus, it allows for re-poking and fine adjustments, as opposed to directly glueing onto the ball.

Get the flowers as close together as you can and try to avoid large gaps.  I ended up adding some smaller flowers from a punch to fill in as well.  But this is optional.

I did find it quite helpful to first attach the dowel/pvc pipe to the styrofoam ball before I started adding the flowers so it would give me something to hold onto.

paper flower topiary 4paper flower topiary 6paper flower topiary 7

Step 4:

Secure it all together.  Add some styrofoam glue (or low temp hot glue) to your dowel and re-attach to the styrofoam ball.  Then attach the other end to the base inside your container.  I used plaster of paris in old plastic flower pots because I wanted a nice heavy, secure base.  But for smaller topiaries, styrofoam will work  too.  You can even use packed garden dirt and/or sand.

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Just make sure everything is stable, non-wobbly and can withstand a cat rubbing up against it (ha ha).

diy kusudama topiaries

Step 5: 

Finish it off.  I put my ugly plastic containers inside these nicer metal ones (which is great -I can change them out if desired), some raffia or petals to cover up the base top, and perhaps a nice bow on where the styrofoam ball meets the dowel.

I’ll be stringing a ribbon between these two as a way to “rope off” the dessert table with a nice “wait for it” sign.

diy origami topiaryorigami topiary

It may be a while before I fold anything more….


Cake and Dessert, yum.

I finally finished our cake and dessert stand–yippee!

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Made from this old broken down brass chandelier:

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Although it didn’t take all that long, I did hit a few bumps along the way.   We will only have a 2-tier wedding cake to sit on top in the middle, but I wanted it to be extra stable, so I added the four posts around the center.  I used 1/4″ dowel rods.

The top round is made from a 12″ unfinished wood round with a hole drilled in the center (it came that way, it is for a diy clock). I then glued a 14″ cake board on top of it so I will have room to put flowers around our cake.  I drilled holes about a .3″ deep into the top wood piece to hold the dowels (and wood glue).  I repeated the drill holes on a bottom wood piece.  This way, the center isn’t taking all the weight and prevents swaying & wobbling.

The smaller rounds are 8″ and made from pre-made wood plaques (1/2 inch thick).

I used decorative papers and ribbon, plus strung glass & pearl beads all around.  I tested the weight on the middle, it will easily hold 50lbs with little wobble.  At 40 lbs  it is extremely stable.

So happy to have this one done!

2013-09-02 16.31.33 chandelier cake stand