You put hours of work into creating a paper flower, only to have the color start to fade after a short while.
Unfortunately, this is a situation that paper florists are very familiar with, especially with certain colors that are quite essential to creating lifelike plants. (I’m looking at you, green.)
So, how do you preserve the color of your crepe paper? Is there anything you can do to stop paper flowers from fading?
The answer is yes. I have one sure way to keep that color completely, but it might not be a medium that you prefer. In that case, there are things you can do to prevent and slow fading.
Completely Preserve Color with Acrylic
In my eight year experience as a paper artist, the only fail-safe way to maintain the color of the crepe is to paint it with acrylic. The plastic coat definitely perseveres the paper.
Especially with those certain shades of green crepe that like to quickly turn strange colors, acrylic paint is a great option. I’ve shared a list of the worst green offenders over at The Posey Box. Foliage isn’t often the star of an arrangement, but it’s so important. A bit of extra attention will keep it looking its best.
One tip that I can offer when using acrylic paints is to layer your colors or other coloring mediums on top to add dimension and depth to your petals and leaves. You can use PanPanstels, sprays from Design Master, or Krylon.
Here are some eucalyptus that I recently made that I painted with acrylic paints and then layered with Design Master sprays. This added subtle hints of colors and interest to the eucalyptus leaves.
Slow Fading with Color Mediums
If you don’t want to use acrylic, other coloring mediums will help with crepe paper color fastness. I’ve noticed that PanPastels and alcohol inks or markers can add color that won’t fade as quickly as the crepe all on its own would. Make sure to apply a UV-resistant spray afterwards to hold the colors.
A tip for using PanPastels: there are various applications that you can use to add the PanPastels. PanPastels have several tools that will help you apply these beautiful colors to your crepe paper, but they can be expensive to replace. I love stopping in at the dollar store to pick up thick makeup brushes and sponge wedges to use for applying PanPastels to the crepe paper. Always make sure to apply the brushes or sponges with the grain of the paper and not against it. Also, a little bit of PanPastel will go a long way. Always start with a small amount and then build up your pigmentation. Think about layering your colors to add shadow and depth.
If you were to narrow down three colors to start with, these are colors that I reach for over and over again when making flowers:
If you want the perfect soft pink: Permanent Red Tint 340.8.
This yellow-green is the color you actually see at the base of petals and centers of flowers: Bright Yellow Green Shade 680.3
If you are looking to add “pollen” to your stamens, consider this Yellow Ochre 270.5.
Here’s a legend when looking at PanPastels colors:
The range includes pure colors, tints, shades & extra darks.
Indicated by item codes as follows:
- Pure colors (xxx.5)
- Tints (xxx.7 and xxx.8) = pure colors plus white
- Shades (xxx.3) = pure colors plus black
- Extra darks (xxx.1 and xxx.2) = pure colors plus more black
Colors are independently tested for lightfastness:
**** Extremely Permanent
Not all color mediums perform as well when it comes to color fastness. Gouache and watercolors are more guilty of fading over time. That doesn’t mean you should never use them. I keep in mind which crepe paper colors fade the most quickly and what my flowers will be used for when I am adding color details to my flowers.
Apply UV-Resistant Sprays
I’ve had good success in slowing fading with UV-resistant sprays such as Krylon, Golden, and Winston Newton. They won’t completely stop it like acrylic does, but they can be a helpful tool in extending the color life of your paper flowers.
There are many options available, and I recommend experimenting to find the one that you like best. Every paper florist uses a unique set of materials and techniques, and each of us presents our art in different ways. You may even prefer different UV-resistant sprays for different projects.
Try Mod Podge or Beeswax
Alternative sealant methods you can try include Mod Podge or beeswax. Both can successfully be applied to paper to give it strength and to help with color fastness.
If you do try Mod Podge, avoid putting too thick of a coat on the paper, as it will dry to a light milky color. I suggest using a brush or a flat, flexible scraper to apply a thin coat. Put on just enough to get into the crevice of the crepe.
My favorite way to use Mod Podge is to take a whole fold of German doublette and paint one side of the crepe paper. I have it on standby when I need to make a shiny leaf for a flower or project. I also like to paint white doublette to make an orchid’s petals. It adds that perfect soft stiffness and gives a bit more durability to this simple bloom that usually only has five petals.
Keep Out of Direct Sunlight
Last but not least, do not put your paper flowers in direct sunlight. Even with coats of sprays or color, your crepe will fade over time if put in sunlight. Let your clients know as well, so that they can preserve your art for as long as possible.
I’d love to hear about your preferred method of stopping or slowing down crepe paper fading. Comment or find me on Instagram at @pinkandposey.