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!

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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

Cost:

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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DIY Boutonnieres

Or “bouts” for the spelling challenged (like me).

I was making these Kusudama origami flowers for our cocktail/social hour decor:

origami flowers centerpiece

and my fiance thought they would make nice bouts.  Always looking to do things in advance (and save a few dollars too), I happily agreed.

Here are bouts!

diy boutonnieres

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I was happy with how easy they were to make.  Just a few hours for all ten, and that included making the flowers.  The cost is under a dollar for each one–if you have to purchase everything.  It is less than that if you already have a few supplies on hand.  Also, I think they look great.

Supplies: 

supplies

Floral wire: 18 gauge for the “stem” of the bout.

Jewelry wire for wiring your beads (gauge depends on the size of the hole in your beads)

Beads for the center

Leaves, or tulle, or fabric/ribbon for the backing of the bout (optional)

Plastic Straws-I recommend the shorter/smaller cocktail stirrer/straws

Floral tape (or wasabi tape) and ribbon (the ribbon is optional)

Scissors & Wire cutters

Kusudama flowers (for a how to on making these, click here).  I used 2″ squares to make mine, except for the ring bearer’s bout–I used 1.5″.

Step 1: The Center

Assuming you already have the flower made, you’ll need to string your beads for the center of your flower. I chose these glass teardrop beads and thought five of them in the center looked nice.  Cut your jewelry wire about 2-3″ long.  You’ll need one wire for each bead.

diy bout 1

Thread the wire through the bead and bend over about an inch and twist your wire tightly to hold the bead.  Do this for each bead.

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Grab all five of the wired beads and keeping them even on top, twist the wires so they are all connected together.  You’ll then want to twist in a 18 gauge floral wire. The floral wire will be your stem.  The beading wire is just not strong enough on its own.

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Step 2: Assemble the Bout

With the beaded wire and floral wire all twisted with one another, thread these through the center opening of your flower.  Cut your cocktail straw down to the desired size.  The cut straw needs to be a tad shorter than the floral wire on the flower (see picture).  The straw will serve to thicken up the stem of your bout and give the tape/ribbon something to cling to.

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Thread the wires through the straw.  You should have some floral wire sticking out of the end of the straw.  Bend it up over the straw.  This will hold everything nice and tight.

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You may want to put a touch of glue at the base of the flower where it meets the stem for added stayputtedness (not a real word).  At this point, you wrap the stem in floral tape (or whatever tape you choose), just be sure to wrap tightly around the base of the flower and get all the way to the bottom of the stem.  With floral tape, I have to do in two parts.  I use about a 5″ section to wrap just the base, and then another 5″ piece to do the rest.  If you are as bad as me with floral tape, you can wrap the whole thing in ribbon when you are done and the tape will not show.

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There are lots of things one can use as a background for their flower. I found these leaves taking up space in my craft room.  If I didn’t have them, I probably would have cut a circle of tulle, or stole a leaf from a plastic plant, or even made one out of paper.

Lay your flower and center it on your background piece.  Secure it with floral tape. Since my leaf was bigger than the base of the flower, I just pinched it in on both sides and then wrapped with tape.

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Congratulations! Your bout is done! You can add a few finishing touches if you like…

Step 3: Finishing Touches (these steps are all optional)

Since floral tape is sticky and I have cats, I finished off the stems with organza ribbon to prevent the bouts from being cat hair magnets. I just placed a dot of hot glue on the back of the bout (where the flower meets the stem) and wrapped all the way to the bottom.  A spot of hot glue on the tip of the end held the ribbon in place.

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I used a pair of small pliers to curl the stem of the bout as well.

Here they all are with cute little tags and their pins.  I love the little tiny one for the ring bearer 🙂

DIY paper flower boutonnieres