Learn how to make amazingly lifelike coffee filter flowers with food coloring! Have you got a big upcoming event like a wedding or anniversary celebration looming ahead? Or you’re looking for a new medium to decorate with? Instead of spending a fortune on flowers, try this instead…You might just surprise yourself…I did!
Better yet, your friends will be floored by these beauties; they will never guess that something this close to the real thing was made from something as simple and everyday like coffee filters. Are you ready to learn a technique that can serve you well next time you need floral decor in a pinch or on a budget? All right, let’s dive in!
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Ok here are all the stuff you’re going to need…
Coffee filters…you can get a package of 100 for like, a buck – talk about el cheapo.
Wax and parchment paper
A shallow dish (or just a bowl with a wide enough bottom )
good cutting scissors
A pair of needle-nose pliers
wire (18 gauge floral wire works best)
Anyway, I’ve got all my stuff set up here and some newspaper spread out, since I know this is going to be messy. Make sure you do likewise, and protect your work area.
Yes, I do some of these demos in the bathroom or kitchen because I have easy access to the sink…comes in handy when you’ve got to rinse something off, or clean up something quickly, or you need to replenish the water bowl!
First thing to do is take some of your filters; a handful between 5-10 will work fine.
Flatten them out like this (left picture) and then fold them together in half, and then again, and one more time in fourths, so it looks like a little white pie slice.
This step will make it easier for the filters to become saturated.
Dyeing Solid Colors
Alright – we’re ready to start dyeing! There are no hard-and-fast rules about how much food coloring to put into the water; A good base amount to start with: 2 cups of water and 5-10 drops of food coloring.
Take the folded filters and drop them into the water/dye.The color will soak in naturally; no need to swirl it around or anything. You can leave it be for about ten seconds; a little more for a deeper shade.
Remove the filters, and gently press out the excess moisture, and unfold it on a safe place, like a cooling rack.
If you combine colors and adjust how much of one color goes in versus the other, you can come up with some striking combinations. I’m going with a pretty pink-fuchsia shade here…This is about three drops of red and one drop of blue.
Dip-Dyeing Your Filters
I LOVE the ombre look…it is a great method for making your flowers look ultra-realistic! It’s also a popular way to color filters. Flowers in real life tend to have color variations naturally – we can master this by dip-dyeing.
For this, I am using a ratio of about three drops of red dye to one drop of yellow.
Now take a small bundle of filters (about 5-10, again),turn them upside down and just drop them in the water/coloring mixture. The color will hit the crinkly area first and then spread to the rest of them.
Next create another dye bath with another bowl or dish….this time use less water. I’ve probably got about a fourth of a cup, which is a pretty small amount in this second dish. Add your same color ratio. Because you’re using less water the color will be stronger.
Remove the filters.and dip the crinkly edges only in the second, stronger color dish. Go lightly, as the color is going to spread, especially on a wet coffee filter. Remove them and lay them out on a designated place, like i’m doing with the wax paper sheet on a paper plate.
You may also want to create some leaves using this method too, to compliment the flowers. To make a leaf shape, I just folded a few filters like I did earlier, in fourths, and cut a spear-like shape that would look like a leaf when opened.
Dip the cut leaf shape filters in and let them set a few minutes. May be a good idea to use less water to get a darker shade.
At first, mine were not as green as I wanted, so I had to adjust the amount.
Drying the Dyed Filters
You can let the filters dry naturally, which may take up to 24 hrs. OR you can put them in the oven for a few minutes to dry them.
Spread out your wet dyed filters on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (try not to let them overlap) and let them do some oven time for about 15 minutes at 250 degrees.
When they come out, they’ll not only be dry, but the colors will be set too.When you go to retrieve your filters from the oven, you’ll find they have a nice fluffy appearance. The colors may lighten slightly.
Creating the Petals
You’re all set to make some flowers now! This is going to be similar to the whole concept of making snowflakes out of white tissue paper. So if you’ve ever done that, then you can tackle this too.
First thing to do is to take about 3 of your freshly dried filters and fold them quarterly. Then we’re going to cut a scalloped or flanged pattern all around the outer edge. Like this:
When you unfold them they will look a lot like this – I am planning for these cutout filters below to become roses:
Feel free to experiment a little – If you want to try to get the shapes of some well-known flowers, it is all a matter of adjusting how much you cut, or change your shape altogether. I’m going with zinnias and carnations as they are well-known for having many petal layers, and then a few roses.
I like zinnias because they are multi-petaled and come in vibrant bold colors. Long, oval or marquis shaped cuts will work for paper zinnias.
Carnations have a crinkly appearance to them which is easy to imitate with scissors. Just do some long quick snips all up and down one side. Like this:
And now we get to roses….Take a few folded filters and cut a round flanged edge all around If you do the double-dip dye step the color variations will look really good.
Assembling the Flowers
Now this is where the fun really begins; putting it all together. Get your wire and cut a piece about 9-10″ in length. Collect your trimmed bundles of filters and lay them in a stack. Use the wire piece to pierce the filters in the center (you can go through one or two at a time)
You may also want to take your pliers and twist a little loop or knot on the wire piece that is resting on top of the flowers. This will act as the “center” and keep the wire from coming out too. Now pinch the base a little; and start rolling the filters.
It should kind of take on a funnel shape. It may take some practice getting that conelike shape but you can do it. Aim for something like this:
You may really have to pinch the base tightly, when you have, secure the base with a piece of tape.
Add some leaves here and there to the wire stems using a little dab of glue and wrap the ends around them in different places, as well as the base area of the flower, where there are usually a few green leaf pieces here and there.
Don’t Forget to Fluff Your Flowers!
Starting with the outermost petal layer, fan out the petals on top so they look nice and more real. then fluff out the inner layers until you get to the center. One thing I’ve learned is that coffee filters can be pretty resilient, so don’t worry that they can’t take a little “manhandling” as you work the petals.
Personally, I like the way they look, even more than the crepe paper roses I did earlier!
You can set your finished coffee filter floral bouquet in the vase or holder of your choosing. Or you can use a bunch of them as a door wreath, I hear that’s popular too. I’ve got all my flowers set up here in this jar I painted a few months ago….(It was lonely and needed to be filled)
Now that you know how to make coffee filter flowers with food coloring and turn them into real works of art, what are you waiting for? Get started today!