On this Hallmark holiday ostensibly dedicated to love, many of us probably find ourselves in a quandary. Should we buy into this rampant consumerist fervor and attempt to prove our love to others via capital, or should we stay true to our Vassarian anti-establishment views, thus foregoing the chance to show someone how much we care?
What if I told you there’s another option. What if I told you there is an economical and eco-friendly alternative to show someone that you are affectionate enough to gift them something pretty. You interested?
My answer: the recycled paper flower bouquet.
For this craft, which is perfect as a stand-alone gift or as an additive to what you may or may not have already planned for your beloved, you will need just two (or possibly three, if you’re fancy) items:
• Three standard pieces of paper. My example repurposes a handout of Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach,” a printout of Vladimir Lenin and a political map of Asia.
• Some form of a fastener. I’ve used string, but you could just as easily use tape or staples; anything that will hold several leaves of paper together for the long term.
• (Optional) Some kind of long, straight thing to serve as the stems of your bouquet. Shown here are some pencils that no longer fulfil the needs of the masses.
These materials will yield two medium flowers, but you could easily make more smaller ones, or a single larger one. For a varied bouquet, play around with the starting paper size, or add extra sheets for more fluffy finished blossoms. Optionally, you could also color the pages beforehand for a coherent, put-together palette.
Here’s what you’ll need to do.
1. Cut each of your sheets of paper
in half, cutting on the long side so you end up with pieces closer to squares than to long rectangles. If you don’t have scissors, then you should be able to fold the pieces in half hamburger-style both directions a couple of times, lick the fold and just pull it apart.
2. Make two piles of three sheets each. Each will become its own flower. It’s not crucial that the sheets line up perfectly with each other, but for the sake of the aesthetic, just do it already.
3. Work with one pile at a time. Holding all the sheets together, fold them collectively in an accordian fashion, as follows. Fold up about an inch of paper, then fold that and the next one-inch section back. Continue until you’ve folded the paper all the way from the bottom to the top.
4. Pinch what were once the top and bottom of the paper together in the middle of the width of the paper. Tie the string (or fastener of your choice) around the middle so that fanning out the accordion folds will create a circle. Make sure the center is securely fastened, or your flower will be dismantled just like the bourgeoisie after the coming proletariat uprising.
Optional: If you have scissors, then you can return the burgeoning blossom to its flat accordion form and trim either end to a uniform shape; this will enhance the floral look of the finished product.
1. This part requires a delicate touch. Carefully expand the accordion into a circle. Gently lift up one layer of paper from one side of the circle, and bring it up to the middle. Try not to rip the paper, but also get it as close to the middle as you can. Be sure to fluff it up sufficiently. Repeat this for the other side, so that the whole circle has one layer of “petals.”
2. Repeat the process from step five until all the layers have been brought to the middle. Be sure to arrange the “petals” in an aesthetic manner.
3. Repeat steps three through six with the second pile of sheets (or as many times as you’d like).
Optional: If you’d rather a more bouquet-like final product, grab a long stemlike item such as a pencil. Using glue or tape, affix the item to the center of the flower from the bottom. You could then arrange your flowers as you wish and tie the bouquet together with ribbon or yarn. You might consider making just one flower to affix to a headband or gift box for a lovely finishing touch.
Voila! You now have a beautiful Valentine’s Day gift for your communist lover, and you didn’t even have to sacrifice your peace, land or bread.