Tie Dyed Paper Flowers

Tie Dye Paper Flowers

You have not time traveled back to the 60's but these petals are sporting some tie dye flower power. Okay, so I did not tie up my paper with marbles and rubber bands but these papers are not store bought. They're dyed using alcohol inks.

I recently went on a little craft supply shopping trip to Castle in the Air in Berkeley to get some high quality Italian crepe papers. While I was in the shop they shared some of their paper flower techniques. As you can see the one I've been playing with is dyeing the papers with alcohol inks.

Because the inks are alcohol based the liquid evaporates quickly leaving the dye and your paper structure exactly as it was before you applied the ink. Previously I've used water colors on crepe paper. With water you have to be careful because it can degrade the paper. These inks are a great alternative. The same would work well on tissue paper which I'm sure you can imagine might melt away when water touches it.

For these flowers I dyed the papers first and then cut out petals and leaves. You could get more detailed by cutting your petals first and then use the inks more methodically to create petals you might find in nature. 

The inks above are still a bit wet on the crepe.

The inks above are still a bit wet on the crepe.

When working with the alcohol inks keep in mind that they will soak into the paper along the paper grain. They can create accents but would probably be difficult for creating detailed drawings on the paper. They're actually designed to be used to dye materials like metal and ceramic. Because of that you need to clean them up with rubbing alcohol or acetone (which worked best for me when I spilled on tile). Lay down some plastic to be on the safe side. You don't want to tie dye your dining room table.

In the photos below I've outlined how I used the inks with the papers. If you're in need of paper flower making resources I've got links at the bottom.

Using white crepe paper as the base I chose just two colors of ink for these flowers. Letting multiple drips soak into the paper and overlaping each other created this pattern. Reminds me a little of ikat textiles.

Using white crepe paper as the base I chose just two colors of ink for these flowers. Letting multiple drips soak into the paper and overlaping each other created this pattern. Reminds me a little of ikat textiles.

I drew lines with all 6 of the inks I bought onto white crepe for a modern circus pattern.

I drew lines with all 6 of the inks I bought onto white crepe for a modern circus pattern.

These were my first experiment and reminded me most of tie dye. I just dripped a limited color palette onto a two toned double thick piece of crepe paper. The split frame at the top of this image shows two sides of the same paper.

These were my first experiment and reminded me most of tie dye. I just dripped a limited color palette onto a two toned double thick piece of crepe paper. The split frame at the top of this image shows two sides of the same paper.

Dripping the ink on patterned paper creates a unique effect as well. I glued (using glue stick) two polka dot sheets of paper (blue and red) together for this example.

Dripping the ink on patterned paper creates a unique effect as well. I glued (using glue stick) two polka dot sheets of paper (blue and red) together for this example.

The left swatch shows two green inks applied to white crepe. The right swatch shows the same inks applied to green crepe.

The left swatch shows two green inks applied to white crepe. The right swatch shows the same inks applied to green crepe.

New to flower making? Some resources to get you started.

— You need supplies! Castle in the Air has a great online shop if you can't get there in person.
— The alcohol inks can be found at scrap booking shops or most likely your favorite craft store.
— The book Paper to Petal is filled with everything you need including templates.
— Lia Griffith makes very realistic flowers both from crepe and printer paper. Her crepe paper tulips would be perfect for accenting with the alcohol inks.
— Brittany Jepsen has a Skillshare class if you'd prefer video over reading/looking at pictures.
— Okay, now you have the alcohol inks and might be wondering; what else can I dye? I first saw these inks being used by Rachel Smith to decorate votive candles.