Introduction: 3D Papercraft Flower Art | an Intricate Paper Sculpture

About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

Hi and welcome to my tutorial on how to make your own piece of 3D papercraft using only basic supplies. This project took me about a day to make, but the fewer sheets of paper you use, the simpler and quicker it will be :)

I was aiming for a 3D 'bursting out' effect and ended up with a cool exotic-jungle-flower creation!

You Will Need:

- Paper; I used 100 sheets of A4 (80 gsm weight) paper in a range of neon colours as well as some black coloured sheets for contrast. I would say that you don't need this many and I went a bit overboard trying to make lots of tiny petals in the centre! Around 20 of my sheets were kinda wasted because you could hardly see them at all in the final art.

Anywhere between 10 and 75 sheets will work, but I would say 50+ is best. Note that the more sheets you use, the more intricate the paper flower will be.

In terms of colours, of course you can choose what you like. I think for my next one, I'll do a white front and rainbow colours for the petals. Having a gradient effect in the centre would also look pretty cool.

- Glue; I used Aleene's tacky glue (but any PVA glue will do) and a glue stick. There are other possible methods for joining the paper sheets together if you don't want to use glue (such as many bookbinding methods or screw posts).

- Scissors

- A guillotine/paper cutter; Optional but very handy.

- Small bulldog clips; I bought a pack of 10.

- Anawl

- Metal yarn needle; this need to be a strong metal needle. It could be possible to use something else such as a narrow skewer or even a cocktail stick if you haven't got a yarn needle.

- Utility knife and cutting mat

- Metal ruler

- Scrap piece of paper

- Pen or pencil

- A Frame or stand; Optional, depending on how you want to display the art when it's finished.

- Patience!

Step 1: Cutting the Paper Into Squares

The first step I took was to cut all of the A4 sheets into square sheets of paper.

If you have a guillotine, this will take you about 5 minutes. Otherwise you will need to use a craft/utility knife and metal ruler, or scissors.

To make a size guide, take a scrap piece of A4 paper, and fold it diagonally, then fold over the excess rectangle shape on the side of the fold. Cut off this rectangle shape to leave you with a perfect square of paper.

Even if you don't need to use this paper guide as template, you will need it later so hold onto it.

At the end of this step you should have a pile of paper squares.

Step 2: Finishing the Template

You made a square template with a scrap of paper in the last step, and now we're going to make that into another cutting template by doing the following:

- Fold the paper square in half diagonally where there isn't already a fold. This will find the centre point; mark it with a pen.

- Now fold it in half vertically and horizontally so the square now has 4 fold lines on it.

- Draw 4 intersecting lines (following the fold lines) that go through the centre point and are spaced evenly apart. They should be symmetrical and of equal length; each of my lines were 6" long.

These will be the petal cutting lines, and will create 8 petals per sheet of paper.

Step 3: Stacking the Papers

Take all of your paper squares and stack them on top of each other (on your cutting mat) so that they are in the order you want them to be in the final flower.

Take the paper template and place it on top of the stack, and then make sure the sides of all the paper pieces line up neatly.

Take the awl in one hand and press down on the stack of paper with the other hand to keep it still. Line the point of the awl up with the centre point on the template, and start pushing (and twisting) the awl vertically down into the paper stack.

The aim: To create a hole going straight through the centre of all the paper squares. The hole needs to be just big enough for your metal yarn needle to fit through.

I had to split the squares into 2 piles to do this, so feel free to split the stack into smaller, more manageable piles.

Once you are done, put the paper template to one side.

Step 4: Spinning the Papers

At this point you should have a stack of square papers with a small hole running through the centre.

Put the bottom piece of paper to one side. You'll be attaching this to the base of your paper art in the last step.

Now you need to push the metal yarn needle through the holes in the centre of the papers. I pushed my needle up through the bottom paper piece first, so that the wider base of the needle was at the bottom of the stack.

This is to attach all the paper together temporarily at the centre point. Push the needle through until the base of it sits flush with the bottom piece of paper. Obviously be careful of the pointy end!

You then need to turn each of the pieces of paper a fraction (choose to go either clockwise or anti-clockwise throughout), working from the top piece to the bottom piece of paper. The needle allows you to pivot the paper around the centre point.

So, you hold the edge of the top piece of paper to move it a small amount, then pick up the 2nd piece too and move them a small amount again, pick up the 3rd piece as well and move them the same amount, then the 4th, 5th ...etc.

Use one hand to pivot the paper, and the other to hold the rest of the paper stack still.

By the end you should have all the papers looking like the photo here, with their corners all spaced about the same amount apart, going around and around the circumference. You want to do at least one full rotation in total.

Thread the paper template onto the needle so it is on top of the stack and line it up with the top piece of paper.

To keep these all in place, put small bulldog clips (or other types of small clips) around the edges to hold them all together. Make sure you don't squish the corners whilst you are doing this :)

Step 5: Cutting Through the Papers

Now it's time to cut down into all of the paper squares with the utility knife.

Remove the needle first. I found using pliers made this much easier because the needle can be tricky to grip.

Make sure the paper stack is on a cutting mat.

You need to cut along the 4 lines you have drawn on the paper template so that these cuts transfer to every piece of paper underneath.

I decided to make the cuts in 8 parts rather than doing each of the 4 long lines in one go. So I cut (using the utility knife and metal ruler) from the outside point of each line towards the centre point. I finished each cut at the centre point to reduce the risk of snagging and tearing the paper points at the centre.

I went over and over the same cut lines with the knife until I had cut as deeply as I felt I could into the stack. Then I checked how many pieces of paper these cuts had transferred to (by briefly removing half the bulldog clips to have a look).

I then carefully removed the papers that the cuts had transferred to*, replaced the bulldog clips and the paper template back onto the remaining papers, and carried on. I repeated this until I finished.

* Note: When you put this cut stack of papers to the side, keep them in exactly the same orientation, as you will need to stack all of these papers together in exactly the same order and orientation later on. It's a good idea to use a marker of some kind - such as a pen mark on one corner - to help you remember how they all go together.

Eventually I had cut through all of the papers, although some of the papers hadn't been cut fully at the centre point.

Don't worry if the cuts aren't exactly as long as the template lines. We're going to sort out the centre points in the next step.

Remove all of the bulldog clips and very carefully line the sides of the paper up again, by rotating the papers in the same direction (which is the opposite direction to what you used to spin the papers in a previous step).

You want the papers to be stacked exactly how they were prior to spinning/cutting them.

Step 6: Tidying Up the Cuts

First, if you haven't done so already, use a pen to put a little mark on the back of every single one of the sheets.

Put the marks in the same corner on each of paper, away from the cuts. This will mean you know how to stack them in the correct orientation from now on, just in case.

Now we just have to neaten up the cuts we have made. This is the bit that requires some patience, and is a good activity for in front of the TV! At least you probably won't have as many as 100 sheets to tidy up like I did :)

All you need to do is complete any cuts that haven't quite joined up in the centre, and neaten the points in the centre if they have snagged/torn or otherwise become messy. The points are what are going to be displayed, so they need to look sharp.

Step 7: Glueing the Papers

Next, take off the front piece of paper in the stack and put it to one side (I didn't do this and ended up getting some stray glue on it and had to remake it later - so it's best to keep it out the way).

Put the paper template on top to add a bit of protection from the glue (if you wish).

Use the bulldog clips to keep the stack together, with the sides of the papers lined up as neatly as you can.

Now you'll need to glue the sides of the stack to keep the paper together. I used Aleene's tacky glue and covered 2 opposing sides of the stack with the glue. I used a scrap piece of card as the glue spreader, and made sure all of the paper edges were coated with a thin layer of glue.

I placed bulldog clips along the glued side to hold it all firmly in place and left it to dry.

Then I did the same for the remaining 2 sides.

Once the glue is dry, move on to the next step.

Note: Please ignore the curled up paper points in the photo - I got a bit ahead of myself :)

Step 8: Curling Up the Paper Points

As mentioned in the previous step, I got glue on my front piece of paper, so I simply replaced it, which is easy and quick to do.

You will have instead put your front page to the side, so now is the time to replace that back on front of the stack (using a glue stick).

Then you need to start the last (and most fun!) stage; curling the paper points.

All you do is, layer by layer, curl each of the 'petals' outwards. Start by pulling the point outwards, and use your other hand to try and add a curl at the same time - rather than just folding each petals back. The video at the top of this page shows the process.

Once you get down to the middle layers, it will start to get more fiddly and you might not have room to add a curl anymore. Instead, just fold it outwards and press gently.

When I got to the centre, I had to use my fingernails to flip up and fold the tiny points outwards.

This stage takes a while but it's fun to watch the flower emerge!

Step 9: Finished!

Well done, you've finished!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and thanks for reading :)

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