Brown bag it: DIY paper bag roses

I’m not wild about silk flowers. They scream “grandma” to me. (Sorry, bubbe.) But I do love artificial flowers made from paper. Because they are so stylized, they are more of an art piece than “fake” flowers. The fact that they obviously are not real makes them glorious.

Among my favorite artificial flowers are giant cabbage roses made from brown paper bags. They look dramatic, and no one would believe they’re actually brown bags.

What you’ll need:

– Lunch-size brown paper bags
– Rit dye
– Rubber gloves
– Scissors
– Hot glue gun
– Wood skewers

bag roses1

1. Place the paper bags one at a time in a dye bath of about 1 part dye and 2 parts water. I selected red dye for the petals and green dye for the sepals. (Oh, remember that rubber gloves are your best friend here.)

bag roses2

2. Lay the paper bags out on plastic covering to dry overnight. For each rose, you’ll need four bags of the color of your choice and one bag that’s green.

bag roses3

3. You’ve heard of double bagging. Here, you will be “quintuple” bagging, with the green bag on the outside and the four red bags on the inside.

bag roses4

4. Twist the bags together tightly so you have what looks like a handle. It should be starting to resemble a rose, or at least the torch the Statue of Liberty holds.

bag roses5

5. Peel back the green bag. Tear it in a few places so that it looks like the sepals of a rose.

bag roses6

6. Peel back the red bags one at a time, starting from the outside in. You can leave the layers as is or tear them to create petals. And just as the inner petals of real roses are more closed, keep the innermost red bag scrunched up.

bag roses7

7. The rose looks finished — but wait! There’s a second rose hidden in there. Cut the green stem at the base of the rose with a good pair of scissors. Seal the cut edge with hot glue. Then put a wood skewer into the base for a stem if desired.

bag roses8

8. And that piece you cut off? As with the first rose, unroll the layers and make another rose out of that. Yeah, you’ve got this project in the bag.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You  can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at