*DISCLAIMER (from 2021): Hi guys! This post was written in 2016 when I first explored crepe paper and as some of my kind readers have pointed out, this post is indeed outdated and there are many exciting new crepe paper weightages produced by Cartotecnica Rossi! Please visit their website for the most updated information, and use this post just as a helpful guide if you're just starting out to learn more about the basics. Enjoy!
I’ve been making paper flowers for more than a year now, and two questions I always get asked are "What kind of paper do you use?" and "Where can I buy them?". There are so many different kinds and qualities of crepe paper, its easy to get confused and intimidated, and so I hope this post helps, especially for my fellow Singaporean crafters who are searching for crepe paper.
In this post, I’ll be comparing 3 kinds of Crepe Paper: Italian Crepe (180gsm), Doublette Crepe, and a brand of Crepe Paper I found in Singapore called Stilcarta. *Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal experiences and preferences as a paper artist. I am definitely NOT an expert - there are many paper florists out there who can work magic with all kinds of paper, whereas I’m pretty comfortable with my Cartotecnica Rossi 180gsm rolls. If you’re an aspiring paper florist, I encourage you to experiment and try different kinds of paper to see which one works best for you!
Italian Crepe Paper, or Florist Crepe, comes in a large variety of colours and is usually packaged as a large roll (250cm x 50cm). Italian Crepe are made in different weights, just search online and you’ll find 60gsm, 100gsm, 140gsm, 160gsm and 180gsm options (gsm = grams per square meter).
Now to understand why there are different weights, it’s good to know how crepe paper is actually made. I won’t get into the technical jargon but to put it simply - crepe paper is made from several layers of tissue paper that is ‘glued’ together and then creased (which is why crepe paper has vertical lines, which is called the grain). Now, weight is important to me because the weight affects how far the crepe paper can be stretched. Since stretching is what gives our crepe paper petals its 3-dimensional curve, the more ‘stretchy’ the paper is, the more artistic potential the paper offers! See below for a chart of the approximate stretchabilities of each weight. 60gsm: 140% elongation 140gsm: 180% elongation 180gsm: 260% elongation (From Cartotecnica Rossi’s Website)
If I’m not wrong, Doublette Crepe is made in Germany. It comes in a thin flat packet (25cm x 100cm) and it is pretty unique for having a different colour on each side. Their colours are also of the softer and more nuanced shades. They’re very smooth to touch and their creases are hardly visible. I'm not too sure about the history, but I believe these were made specially for flower-making.
I found this crepe paper from Kin Soon House of Ribbons. They come in rolls of 50cm x 250cm too. It’s the closest I’ve found locally to Italian Crepe (other crepe papers sold in local art/ bookstores have no creases and can hardly be stretched at all!) and the reason I’ve included it here is because I actually started my paper flower journey with these! They aren’t of super high quality - once you’ve started using Italian Crepe, you won't want to go back to these! They don’t stretch very far and the colours fade quickly. Nonetheless, they are cheap, available in Singapore, and they’re perfect to practise on before you move on to the higher quality paper. Now let’s do the comparison.
1) Texture & Strength
Italian Crepe is thick and has rough, visible creases. While your flowers may look realistic from afar, on closer inspection the creases might not be aesthetically pleasing (I've had customers feedback that they don't admire the creases). Nevertheless, this paper is strong (it can survive a little rough handling) and they hold their shape well even after several months.
Doublette Crepe is smooth and soft, resulting in very delicate and realistic blooms. Unfortunately, this paper tears easily (I’ve torn a handful of petals by accident when making roses) and its shape might not hold as well or as long as Italian Crepe. The resulting blooms are hence extremely fragile and must be handled carefully.
My locally-sourced Stilcarta crepe is kind of in between the two types above. It has a rough surface (i.e. the creases are visible) but it is thinner and tears easily too. 2) Stretchability As mentioned earlier, Italian Crepe stretches A LOT (twice its original length), which produces greater depth when cupping and curling petals. On the other hand, Doublette Crepe stretches about 135%.
As discussed earlier, the amount of stretchability affects the depth of the curve when the petal is cupped. However, having less stretchability is not necessarily a bad thing! You might want to consider using Italian Crepe for blooms with more curved petals (i.e. a rose), and Doublette Crepe for blooms with flat petals (i.e. orchids).
You can tell Stilcarta Crepe isn't the best quality, it looks kind of sad after I've cupped the petals.
3) Cost & Where to buy them
Italian Crepe costs US$7.00 per roll from Castle in the Air, but of course you may find cheaper sources from Etsy or other online craft suppliers. One roll (250cm x 50cm) gives you enough paper to make about 30 roses - pretty great for major flower-making sessions! If you’re a beginner and want to test the waters first before importing Italian Crepe, I do recommend buying Stilcarta rolls since they're so cheap, $2.00 per roll! Doublette Crepe costs US$2.50 per packet from Castle in the Air. I use this store as a basis of comparison since it sells both types of crepe paper, but good news! You can find them in Singapore too! I’ve found them in Art Friend (SG$2.99 for one 25cm x 100cm sheet) and at Golden Dragon (SG$0.90 per sheet, but the packet does not state dimensions). While the price seems appealing, I can't vouch for the quality as I have not bought from these stores before.
One packet is perfect if you’re just starting out and want to make small quantities of flowers in different colours. I estimate you can make 6 roses with 1 packet.
So, in summary:
I hope this post has been helpful for anyone who is figuring out how to start making crepe paper flowers! If you have any questions, more information, or ideas, feel free to drop me a comment or message!