Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tissue Paper Hydrangea Tutorial

A while back, I had a challenge of making some really inexpensive floral centerpieces... and they couldn't be made out of real flowers. My first thought? "Really?" *cue head cocked to the side* And worse yet, I had to come up with two different options to choose from. Oy vey.

So, after a metric poo ton of Google searching and a little bit of improvisation, I finally eeked out the two required options. And now, over a year later, I'm finally getting around to a tutorial. I'm featuring the tissue paper hydrangea today, and tomorrow will be the more modern cardstock rolled rose. Soooooo... here we go!

Here's the end result:

I realize this doesn't look like a hydrangea if you examine it really closely. There are not separate petals, stems, etc. This is like the Monet of hydrangeas. From far away? Totally hydrangea-licious. Super close up? Not so much. But it's so good looking, so easy and so cheap, it's hard to argue!

Here are your basic supplies:

- tissue paper (whatever color your heart desires, but I like white)
- 22 gauge floral wire (I use the straight, pre-cut stuff so I don't have to straighten it out)
- plyers (I have needle nose ones here, but anything will work)
- a ruler
- scissors (bigger ones are better here)
- Distress Ink in peeled paint (the green) and antique linen (light brown)

1. Lay your tissue paper out. Here, I've chosen to stack 6 pieces on top of each other. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it needs to be close. Here, I'm measuring out 9 inches by 20 (the original width of my tissue paper). But, you can improvise and use the dimensions you want.

See the big ol' rectangle you end up with?

2. Start folding it to create an accordian pleat. Use the short side of the rectangle and start folding it back and forth, back and forth along the entire length. My pleats are about 3/4 of an inch. When you get to the end, there's a BIG chance that your layers of tissue paper won't be perfectly even. Don't worry about it even a little. You won't notice in the end result.

3. Now that your tissue paper is completely pleated, use a floral wire to wrap tightly around the center of the pleat. You can see in the picture that I haven't really "pinched" the center. Just made sure to wrap the middle of the wire around the center and twist like crazy until you feel it's secure.

4. Use your scissors to round both ends of the pleated paper. Now, because you have sooooo many layers, it's not always easy to do. So, feel free to hack away. Really. Perfection isn't the goal... but a round-ish pleated end is. No worries at all. Just be forewarned that all those little bits of paper can get messy. So, over the trash can is a good way to go.

This is what you end up with.

See? Both ends are done. So far, so good.

Now, a quick word about Distress Ink. I LOVE Distress Ink. It's a little like a subtle-ish looking stamp pad. You can find it at almost any craft store in the scrapbooking section. It's commonly used on the edges of pictures, scrapbooking pages, etc to make them look antiqued. For us, we're creating a little bit of color depth instead of leaving the tissue paper a really plain, flat white. Here's how:

5. Lightly rub the green Distress Ink on the folded edges of the accordian pleats (both sides of the pleats.) Hydrangeas tend to have this green-y tinge to them, and this is the best way to put in a little bit of green without going completely overboard and ending up with big green splotches. (It will look better in the end. I swear.)

This is what it ends up looking like... for now at least.

6. Begin carefully teasing the first layer of tissue paper away from the accordian pleat. Then, use your green Distress Ink to put green ink on the new, fresh white edges. Rinse and repeat over and over again until the while pleat basically resembles a hydrangea ball.

I accidentally ripped it because I was pulling a little too hard. Because the tissue paper is so fragile and thin, it's really easy to tear. But, the good news is that a couple of tears won't be noticeable at all. Really. If the rip is huge, just carefully tear that part out and continue where you left off. In the end, you won't notice a layer or two missing.

7. Now that you have a big ball of teased-out tissue paper, you can antique it with the light brown (antique linen) Distress Ink. This particular color is really light, so rub it around liberally. And just when you think, "Oooohhh... that's probably good," keep going just a little longer. The more antiquing, the better here. Also, don't be afraid to be a little bit rough with it at this point. It softens any harsh edges and makes it look 1,000 x's more realistic. 

And again, here's the finished product: 

And here's a photo of the original. Sadly, I hadn't figured out that using the green Distress Ink takes them up a notch, so they're a little bit flat looking. This arrangement includes 3 hydrangeas in a simple tall, round glass vase ($3 at Michaels, I think) with a piece of scrapbooking paper rolled up on the inside to hide the not-so-great-looking stems. Cute and super cheap.

Happy Tuesday, folks! :)


  1. Love them! So much fancier than what we did in school! I have to remember this for birthday parties.

  2. I love these! I've actually been thinking of these the past few days, mostly because I remember the ginormous ones that used to be sold at the amusement park we frequented when I was growing up. Those ones were about 24" across and came on a giant pole.

  3. Love, love, love it, Jen! Hydrangeas are my favorite flowers. :) Thanks for sharing your creative genius.

  4. So pretty! I need some springtimey flowers going on around here, I might have the stuff to fake your hydrangeas and everything!

  5. Wonderful idea. I did this for a christmas display, but i didn't have distress ink so i just used markers for the green part and for the finishing touches i dusted mine with cinnamon to get the antiquing look, which left the display smelling wonderful.


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