It wouldn't be springtime for me without flowers, even if it's just in craft form. So this weekend I decided to reinterpret a floral painted wooden bowl from Mexico that I'd taken note of in a friend's country house last year. Inspired by the design, I decided to make a papier-mache version using a manufactured base and floral cutouts from a sheet of gift wrap designed by Rifle Paper Co. The flowers are lush and bold, girly but grown-up.
This is an easy gift to make for Mother's Day and you're certainly not limited to a tray, or even papier-mache for that matter. It's also the kind of project that you can make all your own, whether it's choosing a different background color or in the way you arrange or cut out the florals. I took some creative liberties in layering, adding additional leaves, buds, or berries when I wanted to fill out an area - which is half the fun because ultimately, you create a one-of-a-kind piece for whichever one-of-a-kind woman you're celebrating (even yourself).
Here's how to make it:
- Papier-mache tray (see Resources below)
- Floral gift wrap (see Resources below)
- Fine-tip scissors and/or X-acto knife
- Spray primer (in black)
- Mod Podge in Matte finish
- Flat paintbrush to apply Mod Podge
- Gold leaf sheets, gilding adhesive, narrow flat paintbrush, small stencil brush, and cotton gloves (optional)
Step 1: Using the fine-tip scissors, cut out floral elements from the sheet of gift wrap (I ended up using 4 larger cutouts, along with a number of smaller pieces, such as individual buds, berries, and leaves). For small interior cuts, use an X-acto knife.
Step 2: Spray paint your papier-mache base with 2 light coats of black primer (I use black primer in place of black paint because it dries very quickly and seals the papier-mache without raising the grain on it.). Set it aside to dry.
Step 3: When the tray is fully dry, arrange the floral cutouts on the surface (if necessary, go back and cut additional elements from the paper and layer as desired).
Tip: It helps to take a photo at this point for reference, since you'll need to remove all of the pieces in order to decoupage them onto the surface.
Step 4 (not shown): Usually, when you decoupage cutouts you apply decoupage medium to the cutout itself. However, if you want to apply the floral cutouts in their entirety instead of cutting off stems and leaves and decoupaging those separately, I suggest brushing the Mod Podge over an area of your tray (larger than the cutout you're applying) and then placing the cutout onto the wet tray. Smooth out any air bubbles with your fingers (Should you have difficulty working out wrinkles or air bubbles, brush Mod Podge over the cutout and use your fingers to continue working with the cutout while it's still wet.) Repeat this process until you've covered as much of the tray as desired. Set aside to dry.
When the first layer of Mod Podge has dried and all the cutouts are glued in place, go back over the entire tray with a thin, even coat of Mod Podge. Do the same on the back side of the tray.
Step 5 (optional):
If you want to create a gilded edge, brush a thin layer of gilding adhesive along the flat edge of the tray. Let it dry until tacky (about 15 minutes), then press a sheet of gold leaf along the edges of the tray. Let it dry for about an hour.
When the gold leaf has dried, use a small, stiff stencil brush to remove the excess leaf (you can save the flakes for future projects). With a cotton gloved fingertip, rub over the edge of the tray to make sure all gold leaf is adhered.
Mint floral wrapping paper, available at Paper Source
All gilding supplies from Martha Stewart Crafts for Plaid, available at Michaels
All other supplies available at most craft stores
Black not your thing? Here's how this floral looks against a pale background (Martha Stewart Crafts paint in "Cloud" with a gold painted rim). The great thing about this particular paint color is that it almost exactly matches the background paper, allowing you to include things like the berry clusters, which can't be cut out individually. Just cut around the whole cluster. You'll barely notice it in your finished piece.
I think these florals would also look beautiful against a soft white background with a gilded edge. A completely different vibe than the black.