Saturday, July 6, 2013

Crepe Paper Flowers

In my family, we make crepe paper flowers. 

My Mom and Hu'uli-bat started including me in the paper flower making process when I was just four or five years old.  At first, it was only simple flowers, star cut-outs, layered on top of each other and held together with homemade paste.

My Mom, Aunt, Sister and Grandmother would sit surrounded by piles of more complicated paper flowers, chatting and gossiping in O'odham, while quickly shaping colorful works of art.  Scissors, glue, different crepe paper colors, and wire were constantly traveling around the room, from person to person. 

Hu'uli always reminded everyone to put our good thoughts and prayers into each flower.  That way the person who received them knew how much we loved and cared about them.  Although we took pride in the beautiful flowers that were made, in the end, the fact that we took the time to make them, was more important than how they actually looked. 

I was probably just six or seven when I started being expected to produce the more difficult and complex flowers alongside the other women in my family.  Not that I minded, it was an exciting and happy time and I was always eager to help.

I loved to sit and watch as my Hu'uli would confidently make cuts into the bright, colorful paper.  She used a huge pair of extra sharp, shiny, metal scissors that were too heavy for me to even use.  It was mesmerizing to watch her unrolling the crepe paper into long strips, refolding, stretching, bunching and suddenly forming a perfect flower.

My favorite part about making flowers was always showing them off to Hu'uli.  She always looked at my flowers like they were the most beautiful things she had ever seen.  If we had visitors, she'd want me to show them my creations so they could also ooh and aah over them.   

Over the years, I've made thousands and thousands of paper flowers.  I've made them for sad occasions and happy occasions.  Funerals. Parties. Weddings. My daughters make them with me. 

Flowers are a big part of my family's everyday life.  I didn't actually realize that until recently, after I purchased a smart phone, with a nice camera.  The majority of the photos in my phone are of flowers! 

Yesterday, my Mom made her famous roses.

I know someone is going to ask if they can have specific directions on how to make these so I tried to ask my Mom:

She said, "Do four petals at a time. You roll them. Bunch them. Stretch them. Separate the petals. Fold the first petal into thirds. Then layer with seven or eight petals. Oh, and use glue. Then tie it."

Although I can follow the directions, I still found them really funny.

Sorry if you read this whole blog expecting step-by-step directions.  I don't think I have the patience to write out directions.  I'm more of a fan of community paper-flower making sessions.  That way, you get to hear all the juicy gossip.  ::wink::



  1. Thank you for this lovely description, and for the pictures! I have always wondered how the flowers are made
    (from a mil-gahn fan)

  2. Thanks for the comment, Katy. Ps. The self description made me laugh. :)