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Do-It-Yourself: Always in Bloom

Make your own paper carnation to accessorize your garden party outfit

By Christina Westenberger

Artificial flowers are versatile decorations that date back long before the 18th century.

During the colonial era, an artificial flower sprig might be found on the breast of a man’s coat, as a decorative flair on a woman’s gown or among the many knick-knacks in a curiosity cabinet. They could be made of fabric or paper, sometimes with a stem, sometimes without.

Millineries often sold the accessories, which influenced the decision to include a silk-and-wire artificial flower from The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg’s collections in the original furnishings for the Margaret Hunter Shop.

The silk flower pictured above was made in England, likely in the 18th century. It has been a part of the museums’ collections since 1952.

Ahead of Mr. Jefferson’s Palace Garden Party on May 3, make your own carnation to elevate your 18th-century look for the soiree. Visit for more details on the event.

The flower templates can be found on

This silk flower was made in England, likely in the 18th century. It has been a part of The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg’s collection since 1952. (Colonial Williamsburg Collections)




Floral Tape

Wire Cutters


White Glue

Floral Wire


Scrapbook Paper


Scalloped Scissors



Step 1

Print the flower templates. Lay the templates on top of the scrapbook paper and cut around the edges using the embroidery scissors. If desired, scalloped scissors can be used to cut the edges of the smaller petal templates; use embroidery scissors to cut the straight edges of the petals.

Step 2

Fold each petal in half, creating a crease. Cut a small slit in the very center of each flower on the fold.

Step 3

To prepare the wire, bend the end into a loop. Glue flowers in place, working smallest to largest on the wire. Begin with a dab of glue on the loop and thread the smallest flower onto the wire and glue in place. Be sure to cover the loop with the flower petals and squeeze in place. Wait a few minutes, then add the next flower. As you add each set of flower petals, glue the petals to the wire, not to the previously glued petals.

Step 4

Let flower dry. Trim wire to desired length and wrap it with floral tape. Add a ribbon.

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