Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So You Want To Make Paper Snowflakes

I've received a lot of email inquiries about how I make my paper snowflakes.  As much as I'd like to pretend that it's rocket surgery and I'm a genius, it isn't, and I'm not. 

Paper snowflakes are a cheap, simple, fun, and relatively blood free holiday craft/decoration.  If I can do it, you can do it...unless you don't have hands...or aren't allowed to hold sharp objects...or live in a stone age tribe that doesn't believe in modern devices like scissors (in that case, why are you on the internet?) 

So, dear readers, instead of answering each individual e-mail asking how I make snowflakes, I'm just going to post it here for you all to read. 

  1. Get yourself some copy paper and a pair of sharp and sturdy scissors, then follow this very easy guide to folding a 6 point paper snowflake.
  2. Use a pencil to lightly outline your pattern of choice, or just start cutting random shapes into the paper and see what comes out.
Notes on patterns:
  1. If you are doing a snowflake with a specific image (ie, unicorn, ballet dancer, snowman, reindeer, yoda etc) remember that if you put the whole image centered on the folded segment and cut around it, you will end up with 12 images. 
  2. If you only want 6 images AND the image is symmetrical, only trace half of the image and have its center line up with the fold, when you unfold after cutting you will have 6 images.
  3. If you don't trust your freehand drawing skills, go to google and do an image search for your desired image.  I always type in what I'm looking for and add the word silhouette to the end of it, for example "octopus silhouette" or "Irish Dancer Silhouette".  Select the image you like and save it to your computer, open it and resize it to a size that will fit on your folded segment of paper.  Turn off the lights and unfold your folded snowflake paper and hold one section of it up to the screen and trace the image onto the paper, then re-fold it and cut.
  4. Remember that if you don't have parts of the image touching on either side of the segment the points will not be connected and will be floppy.
  5. There are approximately eleventy million websites with snowflake templates.  If you need inspiration, seek them out, start with a more simple pattern and just keep cutting until you get the hang of it.  If you don't want to waste blank paper on your practice runs, I suggest practicing on old newspaper or magazine pages that you are just going to throw away, until you feel like you're ready to cut your final design.  Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect.
Notes about cutting tools and paper:
  1. Regular copy/printer paper is fine, you don't need to use fancy paper.  I absolutely do NOT recommend using scrapbook paper or construction paper.   It is difficult to fold and too hard to cut once folded.
  2. Tissue paper is OK to work with, but you have to be gentle because it tears really easily.  If you want a lot of fine detail in your pattern, then tissue paper is the way to go.
  3. You don't need small scissors or specialty shears, I use regular office scissors that you can buy at almost any office supply store.  That being said, if I have trouble cutting a really small area I will trim as much as I can with scissors and then finish with an exacto knife, but for me scissors are easier to handle.
  4. You don't need a special machine that cuts out patterns (cricut, brother, cuttlebug, cameo, etc).  People keep asking me if I use this machine or that machine, and I've had to look up what they even are.  I don't know if they can cut folded paper, if they can I say go for it.

First attempt at spider and spiderweb snowflake I made to decorate my desk at the pest control company.  This was made with scrap paper from the recycle bin.  The design needs a little more fine tuning, but it's a good first effort.  This is what it looks like when you center the design on your segment and cut the entire image.

This is my second spider snowflake.  On this one I put only half of the design on the segment, and ended up with 6 spiders, instead of twelve like the first one. 
In case you don't think spiders are very holiday friendly, keep in mind that A) I now work at a pest control company, and B) Christmas spiders.

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