Now that it’s officially spring, it seems fitting to do a craft centered around flowers. I love to do projects with my kids inspired by the arts and crafts of other cultures which I feel adds depth and meaning to our crafts. I’ve always been drawn to the Japanese aesthetic, therefore, Japan was an obvious choice for me to turn to for ideas. This paper flower craft is inspired by the traditional art of Japanese flower arranging, called ikebana.
Lately, in our homeschool geography class, we’ve been learning about Japan whose people have a strong connection with nature. Around this time of year, Japanese people are celebrating spring with hanami picnics underneath flowering cherry blossom trees. My kids and I are looking forward to our own hanami (click here for ideas) as we construct our ikebana craft.
The Art of Ikebana
Ikebana, literally meaning “flowers kept alive,” dates back to the 1400s. With roots in Shintoism and Buddhism and connected to the art of the tea ceremony, this beautiful tradition has been developed for almost 600 years. It is still popular throughout Japan and has spread to other countries as well.
Ikebana encompasses many styles promoted by different ikebana schools and artists. Fundamental to all of them is a reverent approach to nature and the meditative process of designing the flower arrangements. People use ikebana to create a quiet time of peace during which to contemplate beauty as well as its fragility, imperfections, and impermanence. The Japanese aesthetic concept known as wabi sabi embraces this idea of imperfect beauty.
Throughout the centuries, artists have developed complex rules and formulas for ikebana such as what the length of the stems and the angle of their slant should be. Ikebana arrangements are often asymmetrical and have a deliberate use of negative space. The ikebana artist places every flower intentionally and usually favors minimalism.
There are many styles, but the Moribana style, for instance, uses three stems to embody man’s relationship with nature. The longest branch represents heaven, the medium branch represents man, and the shortest branch represents earth.
When creating my flower papercraft, I was inspired by this beautiful tradition and similarly, the aesthetic of wabi sabi. My craft is about learning about a different culture, appreciating beauty, and concentrating on creating different elements that come together in a contemplative arrangement.
This craft is ideally suited for 2nd graders (7-year-olds) and older. My 5-year-old, however, was able to do it despite some frustration. My kids were very proud of their finished creations which made beautiful decorations for our homeschool classroom.
Ikebana Paper Craft Instructions
- Printed template page (click here to download)
- 2 to 3 pages of construction paper (green and another color for the flowers)
- Glue or tape
- 2 to 3 brass fasteners
- Cup, jar, or vase
- 1 – 2 cups of dried beans or small rocks
- Toothpick (optional)
Instructions for the Orchid:
- Click here to download your free Ikebana craft template, and then print it out.
- To make the stem of the orchid, cut a sheet of green paper in half lengthwise and discard one of the halves. Roll the paper diagonally, starting at one of the corners. You can use a toothpick at the beginning to help achieve a tight roll. Once you are done rolling the paper, glue or tape it together to keep it from unraveling. Starting halfway down the stem, make many little bends working your way to the end of the stem until your stem has a gentle curve.
- Cut out the template pieces. Trace the leaf template onto green construction paper. Trace the flower petal templates 2 to 3 times each onto the other color construction paper (so that you can make multiple flowers). Cut out your pattern pieces.
- To make the orchid flowers, shape the petals to have a gentle curve by sliding the side of a scissors blade against the edge of the petals. Insert a brass fastener through the front of petal one, then add petal two, then petal three behind it. Attach the flower to the stem using the back of the brass fastener. You may need to add a piece of tape to secure it. Assemble another flower or two and attach to the stem.
Instructions for the Leaf and Twigs:
- To make the leaf, fold the leaf pattern piece in half, lengthwise. While still folded, make diagonal cuts down the length of the leaf, being careful not to cut through the fold (for younger kids, you can draw cut lines). Stop making cuts near the bottom at the stem.
- To make the twigs, cut 2 strips of green paper ¾ inch wide and the length of the paper long. Fold the twig pattern pieces in half lengthwise. Using a toothpick, start rolling the twig. Roll the twig a third of the way down, then remove the toothpick and allow the twig roll to loosen a little.
- Arrange your flower elements in your vase and fill it with beans or rocks to secure flowers in place.
I hope you loved this craft as much as we did. I have a passion for sharing my love of arts and crafts with my kids and I want to thank you for letting me share it with you too! For more crafts and ideas for teaching about Japan, click here or visit my website meandthechicks.com for crafts inspired by other countries around the world.
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