Saturday, March 3, 2012

How to Make Kanzashi Flowers

It's geisha week here, as I have a fabulous photoshoot next week as a springtime maiko, or apprentice geisha. I'll also be posting several new geisha themed tutorials, so stay tuned for those.

First up, since I have to make a new set of spring kanzashi (nanohana or Canola flowers, for the month of March), I thought I'd do a quick tutorial on how to make a kanzashi flower.

When I first started looking at maiko ensembles, I was more than a little intimidated by the thought of making my own kanzashi. It didn't help that the videos on YouTube at the time were all of professional Japanese craftsmen, who had been making these things all their lives, and therefore made them super quickly and made these impossibly complicated creations.

Thankfully, I got over my nerves and dove in, and now I'm completely addicted to making these. They are incredibly simple!  There are two basic petal shapes - rounded and pointed.  Rounded petals are used to make flowers like ume (plum blossoms) and sakura (cherry blossoms), while the pointed ones are used for making kiku (chrysanthemums) and kaede (maple leaves).  Let's start with your basic setup.

First thing for any flower shape is to make the base.  You'll need:

Some thin cardboard (I usually use an empty kleenex box)
20 gauge jewelry wire
Wire cutters/needle nose pliers
A straight pin
A hot glue gun

First, draw a small circle, about 1/2 - 3/4 inch diameter, on the cardboard. You can cut this out and use it as your template for the rest of the flowers you intend to make.
Trace out as many of the circles as you want, and cut them out.  With the straight pin, poke a small hole in the middle of each circle.

Once all your circles are cut out, it's time to make the stems. Cut a piece of the jewelry wire, about 4-5 inches in length.  With your needle nose pliers, create a small loop at one end.

Gently work the wire through the hole in the cardboard and pull through until the loop is flush against the cardboard. Secure with a dab of hot glue.  Repeat for all your circles to create the bases for all of your flowers.

Next, cut your fabric into roughly 1" squares.

The first petal shape that we'll look at is the rounded petal.

Take a square of your fabric and fold it in half diagonally.

Then, fold it in half again, bringing the two corners together.

Next, we're going to fold back the flaps toward the centre fold. You can see what I mean in the pic below.

Fold the edges of these flaps back toward the centre fold.

You'll begin to see the petal shape once both sides are pulled back.

Secure the ends with a couple of dabs of hot glue.

Trim the end and the bottom to clean them up.

To form the rounded shape, insert your thumbnail into the petal and round out the outer edge.

Ta-da! You have your petal!

Now it's time to make a flower.  I was making nanohana, or Canola flowers, so I needed four yellow petals.

Apply a bit of hot glue to the bottom of your first petal, and glue it to the base.

Repeat for all the rest of your petals.
(If you find that you have too much space between your petals, you can put a dab of hot glue between the petals and press them together. This will widen your petals and give a more even look.)

To finish your flower, put a bit of bling in the centre to hide the corners.  I used gold filigree jewelry bits I bought at the craft store, and a small pearl.

Ta-da!  A flower!

Now let's look at the pointed petal.  These are a little quicker and more straight forward.

First, fold your square of fabric in half diagonally.

Fold it in half again, down the centre.

Once more, with feeling!

Look, it's a petal!

Secure the ends with some hot glue, and trim off the excess like before.

You can now use these petals to make flowers.  I used this green petal as a leaf to accent one of my Canola flowers.

Now you have the basic petal shapes, and can dive into flower making!  I'm going to get into some variations on these basic shapes in a future post, so stay tuned!


  1. Thank you for taking the time to post this tutorial. I hope to make one soon. =)

    1. It was my pleasure! Good luck with your kanzashi project, I'd love to see your results! :D

  2. Do you know how to make the dimpled petals, like for cherry blossoms? o: I'd like to try some kanzashi and really love the cherry blossom look. <3

    1. I've been trying to figure out how to do it without rice or potato glue, but so far I haven't had much luck. When I do get it hammered out, I will post a tutorial for it. :)