How to Make an Origami Calla Lily

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.

  • 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!




15 thoughts on “How to Make an Origami Calla Lily”

  1. Leyla, These are beautiful as Calla Lillie’s or Anthuriums. I am amazed at the design. Simple enough that I could learn it watching the video the 1st time(because it was very well done), yet complex as it fit together beautifully. Even to the weight of the paper. Also, when watching the video we can see that the stamen would be fine with either calculation. Thank you!!!

  2. You know, this could also double as a white anthurium. Two flowers in one! I <3 calla lilies, so very happy to see this.

  3. What a wonderful model! Love making them and they look great. They were a perfect gift for a friend in the hospital, in a vase that Gay Merrill Gross created from a pentagon. And made me remember that when we were in Capetown in September, the calla lilies bloomed in huge clumps along the roadside like dandelions do in the northeast US.

    • Hi Donna, I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. In just about every front garden you may see calla lilies. In Colombia we call them “cartucho” which means “conical rolled paper”

  4. Yes, I found out that either works fine. I did flowers in two different sizes and they both worked out great. I Love my bouquet!

  5. Lovely flower. I love the design and am sitting down making a few right now. However just wanted to comment that the size of paper you mention is inconsistent. For the display flower you said you used 3″ square white and 2″ square yellow square. Then you say if you want a different size to use a proportion of 4 to 3. I’m unsure which of these two proportions are what you really want as they are not the same. Perhaps close enough that it works out fine, but a 4:3 proportion would mean the 3″ larger square should use a smaller square that is 2.25″ rather than 2″. I’m proceeding with the 2″ and 3″ papers. Thanks for the videos! Just discovered your site recently and I really like what I see.

    • Dear Nancy,

      I love the precision of math, but I’m not always that good at it.
      I appreciate very much your clarification!

      Basically the yellow central part of the flower can be made with a square that is smaller than the bigger one. How much smaller? about 3/4 the size of the bigger one. It doesn’t have to be that exact because the angle at the insertion point does not change if the paper is a bit bigger or a bit smaller ;-)

      I would love to see a photo of your calla lilies!
      If you happen to take a pic, please send it to me via my contact page.


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