Hand-Dyed Coffee Filter Rose Wreath

I, like most women, love Pinterest.  Daily inspiration IMAG0763where I get ideas for photography, exercise, cooking, crafts and home projects.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it.

Caution: Be prepared to lose about 3-5 hours of your life today after you click this link to Pinterest… it’s highly addictive!  HAHAHA  (If you sign up with Facebook, you can follow all of your friends Pins and you can click here to follow mine too!)

I have been collecting tons of ideas for backgrounds for my up and coming, new photography studio.  Along the way, I found the use of coffee filters to make flowers. There are many different ways, and certainly easier ways to use coffee filters to make flowers, but I found this one to be truly beautiful.  It is definitely time consuming, but a labor of love and I am happy to share my process with you!

First, visit your local dollar store, or warehouse club and stock up on lots of coffee filters.  I read in one blog where someone used different size filters, but for this project I will only be using the standard size.  I will be on the hunt for the super big, commercial filters in the future, however.  I purchased about 1,000 and I easily will be needing a lot more with the success of this project, I see these getting used for all sorts of textured backgrounds for my photoshoots.  Not just for flowers, but for layered textured backgrounds as well.

While you’re purchasing your coffee filters, also grab some food coloring or latex paint in various colors that you want, some latex gloves, and if you don’t already own one, some sort of drying rack (I used the ones I use for baking).

Grab a large bowl the width of the flattenedIMAG0606
coffee filter, slip on some gloves and get ready for some science.  Okay, not quite “science”, but you are going to put approximately 2 cups of warm water into the bowl and “scientifically” add food coloring (or latex paint) until you get your desired color.  My studio brand color is in the teal family, so I wanted many shades of teal blue.  I started with a fainter color of teal, soaked some of the filters and then added more food coloring for each subsequent “batch” of dying the filters.  Use your hand (with gloves) to be sure the filters are full soaked and there’s no dry pockets between the layers.

I wanted to create dimension with my final product, so dying some of the filters with an “Ombre effect” was something I thought would add dimension and variation.  I dyed the outside edges one color, and the inside another.  Get creative, add more than one color!  This day I dyed some cream/brown colors, teal, and grey/teal.

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I also made some really dark filters and added blackIMAG0608 latex paint for the final batch.  This created a beautiful grey/teal color that really added some depth.  Another method of dying your filters is to only dye the very edges and then let it “bleed” into the center.  Similarly, you can dye just the center and let it “bleed” into the edges.  This will leave the un-dyed portion white, or a very pale shade of the original color.  Very cool!

Let the filters soak for quite awhile.  The length of time will varyIMAG0622 depending on the intensity of colors you are going for, but I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes. Remove them, using your gloved hands, squeeze the filters into the shape of a cone and squeeze excess water from them and then lay onto your drying rack, that has been placed into a sink, and allow the excess dye to drain from them.  I separated them in groups of 30-50 and this made the dripping phase quicker.

If you are brave, take your drained filters, separate them further into groups of 10 and toss them into your dryer.  (I will admit right now that a tiny big of dye did come off in my dryer, but just a little bit, but it was easily wiped away with a damp cloth.  I would adviseIMAG0612 putting something in the dryer after you clean it, that you wouldn’t mind getting dye on… perhaps an old towel?)

They do not take long in the dryer at all.  10-20 minutes.  Remove them and prepare your iron. Flatten them out and iron them.  Yes… I said iron. Some of you might not even iron your clothes that often, and I’m asking you to iron coffee filter?  Yup.  Iron them puppies and be prepared to make gorgeous roses!  It will make all the difference in the final outcome.  It is a good project to do while you sit on the floor watching your favorite reality TV show. Just don’t burn your carpet–use an old towel.

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Once you are finished ironing out 10,001 filters, the fun part begins!  First, pull out your glue gun and get it hot and ready.  Begin by combining two filters of your color choice.  I combined a lighter shade with a darker shade to create variation and depth.  Dab some glue into the middle, and run a bead from the middle to the edge. Just one bead is all you need, and press them together and set aside.  Repeat this about 5,000 times.  Just kidding.  But, you get the point.

Once you have a stack of filters glued, you are ready for the next step.

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Place approximately 10 filters together (or as many as a your sharpest pair of scissors can cut through) and cut a spiral all the way to the center leaving a circle at the end, like follows.

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You will find that if you cut a 1 inch band, the roses will sit higher.  If you cut a 1/2 inch swirl, the roses will sit flatter.  You can also cut the very outside thinner and then go thicker toward the center to create a cone and depth.  There are no “rules” here.  Use your imagination and get creative.  You will see what it turns out like after you make your first few and you will get your groove.  It’s not hard at all!

Gather up the center, and create the center of the bud.  This is where you can get creative and pinch and curl it and then place a dab of glue to set the very center, and continue curling toward the center, very loosely.  You will end up with a little rosette and a circle at the end of the filter which will serve as your “base” and a place to put a ton of glue on and “set” the whole rose as follows.

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Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Fast forward a couple of hours until you have yourself about 100 or so roses.  Purchase a foam wreath form from your local crafts store and keep that glue gun hot.  I separated all of my roses by shades from light, medium to dark.  I wanted to place them on with variation.  Glue them so they aren’t in a straight line.  This will help it to look more authentic.  (I’m not sure there’s anything authentic about teal and grey roses though!  LOL)

Glue them all on to cover 2/3 of the wreath, leaving the back flat.  I have seen in other blogs where they cut the wreath in half.  I didn’t do this because I wanted it to pop away from the door or wall once I hung it.

Add a beautiful ribbon at the end.  I secured mine with glue and then a couple of “T-pins”.

Viola!  Beautiful rose wreath!

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