Paper FlowersOn the windowsill, you should be able to see a vase filled with paper flowers. Now fresh flowers are available all year round, but this wasn’t the case in the past. Instead, artificial flowers were used to decorate houses. In the homes of the wealthy, they were made of silk, wax or porcelain. Most people could only afford ones made of paper, or carved and peeled wood.
These were one of the many things made and sold by the ‘Tinkers’ – what the people of the township called the Gypsy-Travellers.
A Tinker’s basket with paper flowers.
Any sort of paper can be used for making flowers, but crêpe paper is best because it is flexible and soft. Making a flower begins with cutting a long strip of paper. The wider this is, the larger the flower. One edge is cut into a pattern, usually curved scallops or points like a crown.
The middle of the strip is rubbed with the thumb and forefinger. This shapes it, so that when it is assembled the petals curve out and fold down. The cut and shaped strip is then curled between the thumb and a knife. Next, the paper strip is wrapped around two fingers, and the bottom edge is twisted and tied with wire or twine. The petals are pulled back and puffed out to form a flower head. The flowers can be tied to leafy branches cut from bushes, or attached to sticks and put together to make a bouquet.