Poppies are for remembering. It may not be common knowledge now, like it used to be, but since the 1920s, bright red paper poppies have symbolized support for military service members. It started with a poem about World War I by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” that starts: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses row on row.” American Moina Michael, read it, bought up a bunch of fresh poppies, and gave them to folks to wear in remembrance of the fallen. After that, both the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and the American Legion Auxiliary started distributing handmade poppies to raise funds for programs that serve war veterans. And it’s not just us: All over the world, people wear poppies and place them on graves in tribute to men and women who gave their lives.
How to make paper poppies
Creating your own paper poppies for Memorial Day or Veterans Day is simple. Just follow along with the video above or the steps below.
PAPER POPPY SUPPLIES
Crepe paper in bright red and light green
Green or black stamens (like these)
PUTTING PAPER POPPIES TOGETHER
- Fold the red crepe paper so it’s four layers thick. Using the templates, cut four each of the large and small petals for each poppy you want to make.
- Gently pull and stretch the outside edge of each petal to give it a realistic shape. (For super-detailed instructions on this technique, called “cupping,” go to our full tutorial.)
- Cut two small squares of the green crepe paper. Crumple one into a ball, and wrap the other around it. Put a dab of hot glue inside the ball and poke the floral wire inside. Wrap the ends of the square around the wire and wrap it with floral tape.
- Fold a few of the stamens in half. Glue them around the green ball, then wrap with floral tape.
- Add the petals one by one—first small, then large—by gluing and then wrapping them around the center of the flower.
Arrange your poppies in a vase or basket, attach them to a barrette or headband, or wear one poked through a buttonhole. It’s a beautiful way to remember the sacrifices made by the courageous men and women in the military. We’ve also got quotes to share.
Video by Union Hill Photo Studio