Papier-Mâché Floral Brooches
By Cathy Callahan
I just absolutely adore Michelle Obama’s sense of style — I check out the Mrs. O blog all the time. I love that she supports young and lesser-known American designers. I also really love that she’s not afraid to wear big accessories, especially when it comes to jewelry. Most of the time she doesn’t stop with just one great big floral brooch. It’s typical to see her with two on the lapel of a jacket or maybe three on her cardigan to cinch it closed. I even found a photo of her with four of them gracefully placed around the collar of her dress.
An internet search revealed who makes and where to buy what Michelle wears, and even how to achieve the same looks for less. One would think that since many of her brooches could be easily handmade that there would be a few DIY tutorials here and there. But I found nothing.
I think the most obvious choice to make your own Mrs. O-inspired brooch would be to craft one using fabric. Here on CRAFT, you can find some amazing tutorials for fabric flowers (here and here). I decided to try my hand at a papier-mâché brooch.
This should cost you next to nothing, and you probably already have most of the supplies on hand in your desk drawer or craft stash.
Newsprint paper I used plain newsprint drawing paper. You can use some of your morning newspaper, but be forewarned that you’ll probably have to apply more coats of paint to cover up the newsprint.
Scissors both straight and scalloped edged (or decorative edge of your choice; a pinked edged is also super cute). Use good sharp ones that you use only for paper. It’s also nice to have a small pair of scissors for tiny details.
Mod Podge I used matte finish but you might prefer gloss. What’s great about Mod Podge for this project is that it acts as both an adhesive and a sealer.
Paint brushes a 1" sponge brush to use with the Mod Podge and art brushes of your choice for the paint
Acrylic craft paint I really like Folk Art brand by Plaid.
Lightweight cardboard I used a cereal box.
Circle hole punch: 1/4" and 1/8" sizes
Craft glue Aleene’s Tacky Glue is really good.
1.5" pin back
Step 1: Measure the layers that will become the petals. Using the compass, draw the following sizes of circles on the newsprint paper.
For the larger flower:
- 5" in diameter with a 2" circle in the center
- 4" in diameter with a 1.5" circle in the center
- 3" in diameter with a 1" circle in the center
For the smaller flower:
- 4.5" in diameter with a 1.75" circle in the center
- 3.5" in diameter with a 1.25" circle in the center
- 2.5" in diameter with a .75" circle in the center
Each of these circles is what creates the 3 layers of the flower. You may vary sizes as desired, but keep in mind the proportion between each layer.
Step 2: Cutting out the layers. Put 3 sheets of paper under each sheet of newspring that you drew the circles on, and cut using your straight edge scissors. You will have 4 of each size.
Step 3: It’s important that you complete all of Step 3 — parts 3a through 3e — for each layer at a time. In other words, finish all parts of Step 3 on a single layer before moving on to your next layer.
Step 3a: Apply Mod Podge to the paper. Take 4 circles of the same size. Brush on a nice even coat (all the way to the edge) of Mod Podge on one of the circles and lay down another circle on top. Repeat until all 4 circles are stuck together. Press together with your fingers to make sure there are no air bubbles and that the Mod Podge is spread evenly all the way to the edge.
Make sure the circle with the pencil marking ends up on top.
Step 3b: Cut the decorative edge. Cut the edge of the circle using scallop-edged scissors (or a decorative edge of your choice). You will notice that while the Mod Podge is still wet, the paper is somewhat pliable. This is why you are completing all parts of Step 3 for each layer at the same time before moving on to the next.
Step 3c: Cut notches in the petals to create petal shapes. Use the inner circle as a guide.
Step 3d: Bend the petals to shape, bending the petals up using the inner circle as a guide.
Step 3e: Prop your layer of petals upside down on a little jar of paint while drying — that way the petals will keep their shape better and not flatten out while drying.
Repeat all of Step 3 (3a through 3e) for each layer. Allow the layers to dry completely before painting.
Step 4: Apply the paint. Choose your paint colors and paint both sides of each layer. Also make sure that the paint covers the edges of the petals. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 5: Make the center of the flower. Using a compass, measure a 1.25" and a 1" circle onto the cardboard. Using scissors, cut each circle out.
Using both sizes of your hole punches, punch out a few circle shapes out of the cardboard.
Arrange and glue (with the craft glue) the smaller circle shapes to the larger circle. The 1.25" circle gets the 1/4" punches and the .75" circle gets the 1/8" punches. Allow the glue to dry.
Paint and allow to dry thoroughly
Step 6: Apply a coat of Mod Podge to the front, back, and edges of each petal and to each of the centers. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 7: Using the craft glue, glue the layers together. Glue the center on the front and the pin back on the back (pin back placement is as shown).
Allow to dry thoroughly.
Now you can wear your finished papier-mâché floral brooches in style, just like Mrs. O!
I’m teaching a papier-mâché class at Home Ec in Silver Lake (Los Angeles, Calif.) on May 14+ 21.
I’m also doing a demo at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 31st, in the CRAFT booth area at Maker Faire Bay Area.
About the Author:
Cathy Callahan is a crafter and window dresser who draws inspiration from vintage crafts. She blogs about 1960s and 1970s crafts at cathyofcalifornia.typepad.com.