During a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, I sat for a while in front of a large painting by Diego Rivera, Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita. The painting depicts three peasants kneeling before a bearer of white calla lilies at a Good Friday flower festival.
As I sat there in front of Rivera’s Flower Festival an idea occurred to me for designing an origami calla lily. At the time of that MoMA visit I had been folding many origami hearts. Returning home and seated at my work table, I figured that one of these hearts could be the basis for my calla lily design.
I was familiar with an origami calla lily made with a single piece of paper, but realized that making it with three pieces would produce a more elegant flower.
Dividing the flower into separate components eliminates the bulk of many overlaid layers that result when folding a complete flower of petals, stamen, and stem, from a single sheet.
In the following video I’ll demonstrate how to make my origami calla lily design from three pieces of paper.
Materials for the Calla Lily
- A square piece of white paper, 3 x 3 inches
- A square piece of yellow paper, 2 x 2 inches
- A strip of paper, 12 x 0.75 inches
Tips and Suggestions
- These origami calla lilies can be made with squares of different sizes. The square for the central piece should be 3/4 the size of the larger square.
- The stem hooks quite well into a back slot of the calla lily. But if you plan to handle it a lot, or give it away as a gift, it would be a good idea to secure the stem with a drop of glue.
The Calla Lily as a Symbol
Calla Lilies are a native of southern Africa. This flower became a recurring motif in works by artists Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe and other important 20-century painters and photographers.
In Afrikaans they are called varkoor, which means pig’s ear. This image contrasts with other meanings attributed to the flower:
- The calla lily is a symbol of resurrection and the Easter season, and is used in funeral arrangements.
- As a symbol of purity, it is used in wedding bouquets.
- The calla lily is also a representative icon of Mexican culture.
I love the idea of spring and the ‘resurrection’ of all the natural world at this time of year here in the northern United States. But the new flowers take such a long time to blossom here!
While we are patiently waiting for the gardens to bloom we can cheer ourselves with the lovely sense of spring that origami calla lilies can bring us.
And remember, another benefit of paper flowers is that they wilt at a much slower rate than flowers from our garden!