Orla Kiely Inspired Cardboard Roll Art

I’ve been seeing DIY toilet paper roll projects all over lately — like this, this, and this. It got me thinking, ‘Hey, I could use that technique to create an Orla Kiely-esque stem design (like this popular pattern).’ I collected rolls for weeks (I actually used paper towel rolls since they didn’t seem to have as much paper and glue stuck to them at the end), and I finally got crafting the other day.

I used some of my sturdy watercolor paper as the backing for my design, and I had some gray yarn on hand that became the stems. I used tissue paper to “color in” the leaves and painted the cardboard rolls to match. Once the leaves were all glued on, I put the finished piece in a shadowbox frame from Michael’s. Since I already had some of the materials, and I used a coupon at Michael’s, I only spent about $20 on the whole project — score! Here are more details:


sturdy paper (watercolor paper, poster board or card stock)
cardboard rolls (toilet paper, paper towel, gift wrap, etc.)
yarn, twine or string
all-purpose glue
multi-colored tissue paper
shadowbox frame for display


Cut your paper to fit inside your shadowbox frame (mine is 11″ x 14″). Using a ruler, mark your cardboard rolls at every inch, crease vertically and cut straight across using your marks as guides. (If you’re using paper towel rolls, they’re 11″ tall, so you’ll get 11 leaves from each roll.) Cut more than you think you’ll need in case some of them are uneven or have rough edges (my finished design has 48 leaves, but I cut 55).

Again using your ruler, draw vertical lines on your paper where you want the stems to go (I have one down the center, one about an inch from the left edge and another about an inch from the right edge). Cut pieces of yarn a little longer than the lines, glue them onto the paper and trim the excess from the edges.

Form your cardboard roll slices into teardrop shapes. Use one of them as a template to trace onto your tissue paper (I got a pack with 20 different colors from Michael’s, but I limited my design to seven hues — five greens and blues, plus red and yellow-orange). Fold the tissue paper so you can cut several leaves out at once (I cut four at a time, eight of each color).

Arrange the leaves along the stems in a pleasing pattern, making sure a color is never used twice in a row (you could measure the placement of the leaves to make sure they’re all even, but I just eyeballed it). Once you’re happy with the design, brush watered-down glue on the back of each petal and secure it to the paper. (Careful — tissue paper is fragile, and it bleeds onto the paper!)

Paint your cardboard leaves the same colors as your tissue paper (I just mixed my colors from red, yellow, blue and white, but you could buy craft paint already in the colors you need. Don’t worry if they don’t match exactly — it’ll blend in once it’s next to the tissue paper).

Once the paint is dry, apply glue all the way around the bottom of each cardboard petal and secure them to the paper over the tissue paper. Press down on them for a minute until they’re set.

After all of the leaves are glued down, I recommend flipping the entire piece over and laying the shadowbox frame on top of it to make sure all of the leaves are flush with the paper. Once you’re sure the glue is completely dry, flip it back over, and you’re ready to frame!

I love how fresh and springy-looking it turned out! It’ll be interesting to see if anyone who comes over says, “Wait, are those toilet paper rolls?!”

Print Friendly
Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 Comments to “Orla Kiely Inspired Cardboard Roll Art”

  1. […] Orla Kiely Inspired Cardboard Roll Art […]

  2. […] suitcase side table.       7. Orla Kiely inspired cardboard wall art – Mollee Made Create your own mid century modern picture with coloured paper. […]

  3. […] Mollee at Mollee Made has shared a stunning and colorful wall art she has created by making petals of sliced paper roll tubes and then painting and gluing them to a canvas that has colorful petals of colored paper already glued. […]

  4. avatar
    Ann Martin 3 April 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Love this idea – how nice to see classy art made from such mundane supplies. :)

  5. avatar
    Rachael 20 October 2012 at 7:58 PM

    Looks wonderful! Love the colors and 3D effect! PS – Thanks for the mention!

  6. avatar
    Stephanie 12 March 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Great idea to reuse instead of recycle! Starting collecting soda cans for your other project, now the toilet paper rolls will be stacking up, lol.

Leave a Reply