I made this fancy tissue paper letter "A" for Anna's 1st birthday party - inspired by an element at a shower thrown by Heavenly Blooms Florist where they featured a large letter "K" for Kate's baby shower. I was trying to be budget conscious, so I found a way to tweak the very popular 'tissue paper pom-poms' to create a carnation look. The whole project only cost $5... not too shabby if you ask me.
- Cardboard or Foamboard (or styrofoam) to make the letter template.
- Tissue paper (probably around 24 sheets depending on how big your letter is and how big your carnation-poms are.
- Floral wire or trash ties to hold the carnation-poms together.
- Hot Glue
Here's how to make it:
Cut the cardboard, foamboard or styrofoam into the letter or shape you wish. Although I used styrofoam for the big pink "A" let me STRONGLY recommend using cardboard or foamboard... styrofoam is expensive (I had NO idea it was that pricey) and messy and also I couldn't find a piece in the stores big enough for my project - thank goodness my dad had a piece that came from something he bought. For the teal letter "K" I used an old cardboard priority shipping box.
Take 8 sheets of tissue paper and cut them into 4.5"x5.5" rectangles (or have fun experimenting with different sizes to fit your letter or your needs. For the smaller teal letter "K" I used 3"x3" (ish) squares and it took 16 sheets of tissue paper. For the big pink letter "A" I used 4.5"x5x5" (ish) rectangles and it took 24 sheets of tissue paper.
Tip: To cut the rectangles I laid all 8 sheets on top of each other and then folded and cut down the seams to make it easier. If you try to just make straight cuts they start sliding... and it makes it tricky. Also try using an exacto knife.
Fold your '8 layer sets' of tissue paper like an accordion.
- For the big pink "A" I used about 3/4" folds.
- For the little teal "K" I used about 1/2" folds.
Note: It just has to be approximate - don't go pulling out the ruler ;) You can play around with fold sizes too. The more folds the more ruffly your flowers will be but dont make TOO many folds because it will be hard to "fluff".
I used floral wire to tie up the centers, but you can also use trash ties or just regular wire. I just twist once or twice and then fold down the edges.
Note: When you are folding, make sure the folds go horizontal across the most narrow side. For example - if you used a 4.5"x5.5" rectangle.... your finished folded accordian should be 4.5" wide NOT 5.5".
Use your fingers to pinch the center to hold in place and slowly and carefully "fluff" the tissue paper layers up one layer at a time starting by pulling the part closest to the center. Working from the center out helps to separate the layers where it's the tightest. Towards the last layer it will get pretty tricky, so I start folding the bottom layers down and then fluff them back up to the top. It helps to really get them good and separated.
Be very gentle when you do this - the tissue will rip - but if it does it is OK.... just rip that layer and be gentle with the next layer. I had about 10 of my flowers missing multiple layers but you couldn't tell at all!!
Once they are fluffed - just pull out the hot glue gun and start gluing! Depending on the size you used - you may notice that the carnation-poms aren't perfectly round and have gaps on either side - this is NOT a problem and sometimes works to your benefit!
Note: You will notice more of a gap if you used square dimenstions of tissue paper... or if you folded the wrong way if using a rectangle. Because I used 3"x3" squares I had a bit of a gap on either side, but it helped since this letter was so small - the pom poms could fit together.
Tip: Try to avoid fluffing from the outter most part - sometimes if you start too close to the edge the paper will rip. If it does rip it is OK.... just continue ripping that part off and be gentle with the next layer. I had about 10 of my flowers missing multiple layers but you couldn't tell at all!! And actuall- if you want more of a carnation looking edge you will PURPOSELY rip the edges to make it a little les clean cut.
To hang it - I just took a piece of ribbon and hot glued it to the back and then hung it on a wreath hanger or a hook. I thought it would pull away from the styrofoam (another reason not to use styrofoam...) but it's held up so far for a month ;) I tried to get fancy and cover the back since I used a priority shipping box and I planned to give this to a friend - but no one will EVER see it ;)
Tip: I recommend you spray paint or just paint the letter you cut out to semi-match whatever color your tissue paper flowers are. That way if there are any gaps it will not show. For the letter "K" in the example I just took some spray adhesive and laid a piece of tissue paper on top. It was a quick cover just so the cardboard wouldn't show.
Another Tip: if you use styrofoam (again - prob not my first choice - it's just all I had) you will want to trim around the edges with ribbon or something otherwise it will have unfinished edges.
The Finished Product:
Yes it may take a while to do -but the result is AWESOME. I was originally going to use real carnations like I saw in the photo - but I wanted to do it pretty cheap and wanted it to last. The whole project (Pink "A" from birthday photos) cost me about $5 and now it's hanging in Anna's playroom.... the teal "K" in the demo cost less than $1 (used about half a big pack (came with 25 sheets) of tissue paper from Target that was $1.49 - I already had the cardboard and ribbon)