Craft supplies are expensive, aren’t they? It seems like the more you buy, the more you need. Wouldn’t you like to save a few bucks here and there? Today’s post can help you do exactly that. I’m going to show you how you can get away with never buying colored flowers again, because I’m going to show you how to color mulberry flowers yourself!
♫”Here we go ’round the mulberry bush”♪
Sorry. I was channeling six-year old me, which I always do when I hear the word “mulberry.”
Mulberry flowers are the exotic, pricey, yet gorgeous high-end flowers that many paper crafters keep in their stashes. We use all kinds of flowers, sure, but the most realistic ones are those made from mulberry paper.
Mulberry paper is handmade in Thailand from the bark of the mulberry bush. The process has not been industrialized, it is ALL done by hand, which helps explain the higher price tag. And the plant material is perfectly sustainable as the plant grows faster than the bark can be used. That’s the polite way of calling this plant a weed, which it is. I once had one in my garden. It appeared out of nowhere (thanks, Mr. Mockingbird), and despite my best efforts, it reappeared year after year. After year. After year.
But I digress. The flowers that are made of this paper look incredibly realistic, with shape and texture molded right into the petals. And they come in beautiful, rich colors. But unless you’re married to Scrooge McDuck (or you ARE Scrooge McDuck), you might not want to shell out the clams required to buy the colors of the rainbow that most papercraftering stashes seem to require.
So what’s a McDuck to do?
Custom colored flowers – the easy way
That’s right, you color white mulberry flowers in your own custom color combinations. Once you see how easy (and quick!) it is, you’ll never buy colored flowers again. And you’ll save pots of money in the bargain. And that’s always a winner in my book.
- White mulberry flowers (Really Reasonable Ribbon and Wild Orchid Crafts are good sources)
- Alcohol markers (I use Copics)
- Rubbing alcohol (95% ethanol)
- Acrylic block
- Small pot to hold the alcohol
- Project paper (whatever you’re matching the flowers to)
You might wonder why alcohol instead of water for this project? Good question.
Water and watercolor paints would work except for two things:
- Water would cause the texture of the petals to flatten out; and
- watercolors tend to fade quickly, whereas alcohol inks hold their vivid colors for much longer. As in… years.
How to color mulberry flowers step by step
1. Rub some of the alcohol ink onto the smooth side of the acrylic block. In this case, I chose a light pink and a dark pink. (The light pink is there, I promise.)
2. Dip the paintbrush into the alcohol, tap to get rid of excess moisture, then swirl into the light pink on the acrylic block and start painting the rose petals. The alcohol will spread quickly and soak into the dry areas. Repeat until rose is completely colored.
3.(a) Immediately take a marker in a contrasting color and dab it on the tips of the petals. It’s ok if the petals are still wet, the colors are supposed to “run.” Dip paintbrush in alcohol, tap off the excess and gently dab it on the dark areas to “melt” the dark into the light. Or, for an alternate method…
3.(b) Dip paintbrush into the alcohol, swab it in the darker ink on the acrylic block, then dab it onto the tips of the flower petals. The ink will immediately begin to “melt” into the lighter color on the petals. If the petals have begun to dry and the darker color “grabs,” just apply a little clear alcohol to blend further.
Try different color families. No need to stick with what you might see in nature – be bold.
The whole process is so quick and easy, I color my flowers when I work on projects, not before. There’s no need to do them in advance! Plus, there’s nothing to store, no leftovers, as it were. Unless you count the tiny amount of alcohol left over (I don’t – it’s not enough to save).
Now it’s your turn
Try this technique and show us on Facebook your gorgeous flowers AND the project you used them on. We’d love to see what you come up with! Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!
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