Fiesta Flowers, also known as "Mexican Fiesta Flowers" or "Mexican Paper Flowers," developed from a tradition of paper folk art likely originating in the Far East and brought to Mexico sometime around the 17th century. Made with brightly colored tissue paper, many styles from simple to complex appear in celebrations and festivals. Although more complex, realistic tissue paper designs can involve hours of work, you can decorate on a large scale in less time for your own celebrations with a simple design and a few items from around your home.
Cut out four to six sheets of brightly colored, equally sized square or rectangular tissue paper. Use either the same color for all of the sheets or vary the colors by sheet. Keep in mind that each sheet represents one layer of flower petals.
Stack the sheets together and make one-half to one-inch forward and backward folds to make a closed paper fan shape. If you are using a stack of rectangular sheets, place the stack in front of you lengthwise, with the long sides to the right/left and the short sides at the top/bottom, and fold from the bottom to the top.
Add a flower stem with a twist tie or pipe cleaner. With the flower head still folded like a closed fan, wrap your tie around the center from the top edge to the bottom with the ends of the tie pointing down. Twist the ends together once at the bottom edge.
Trim off the sharp corners from the folded tissue paper ends to design the "petals" for the flower head. Trim and round the ends to create wide, rounded petals or cut along the edges as well as the corners to make thin, elongated petals. Use decorative scissors/paper edgers to give the ends of the petals extra detail--as you might see with carnations.
Unfold the tissue paper as if you are trying to open a paper fan on each side of the stem.
Separate the sheets of layered tissue paper by gently pulling them up from the stem starting with the top sheet. After separating every layer, gently hold the flower head in one hand, slowly pull down and twist on the stem with the other hand to pull the central petals in toward the center of the flower head. Twist the tie twice at the bottom of the head to secure the shape.
Arrange and decorate the flower head to suit your personal preferences. For example, use a clear glue to add fake water droplets to the petals or glitter to highlight the petal edges.
To give your flowers a colorful non-tissue paper center, use wide piper cleaners and select colors that alternate with the tissue paper. For example, use yellow tissue paper with a blue or green pipe cleaner and, in Step 6, don't pull in the center.
Make giant flowers by using 12-inch or larger sheets of tissue paper for your stacks or gather four or more paper flowers of the same size and style and twist the stems together at the base of the heads.
Always pull the layered sheets of tissue paper carefully as tissue paper rips easily.