01 December 2010

Lacy Paper Snowflake Tutorial

More Snowflakes

Scroll to the end of the post for the giveaway winner!

For everyone who wants to make some lacy snowflakes themselves ... Start with my tutorial on how to make snowflakes with six points. The following tutorial explains my method for making the "lacy" or "stained glass window" style of snowflakes (and it assumes you already know the basics of snowflake making).

  • A pair of sharp scissors with good points (I have some little red Singer sewing ones that I bought at a grocery store several years ago). If someone in your house likes to sew, do NOT steal their good sewing scissors as cutting paper will dull the blades.
  • Paper, one of three kinds: wrapping paper, old magazines, or printer paper. Avoid anything thicker than printer paper as it will be too bulky to cut nicely once it's folded.
    • Plain silver or gold wrapping paper is really pretty and since it's thinner than printer paper, it's easier to cut.
    • Magazines tend to be very thin and will rip easily if you're not careful. It's also slippery since it's glossy on both sides. However, it's essentially free, easy to cut when folded, and you can get a huge variety of colours from a single magazine.
    • White printer paper is cheap and plentiful in most households and it creates the classic white snowflake.
  • Optionally, you can use a protractor and/or pencil to help with folding precisely or even planning your pattern before cutting, but mostly I don't use either.

As for size, it's entirely up to you. I aim for slightly smaller ones -- usually I fit about 4 snowflakes to a sheet of A4 or letter-sized paper. If you make some larger ones, remember you can make tiny ones from the scraps.

The Snowflake Secrets
On to the tips! I've drawn on the paper in some cases to demonstrate the point, but I don't do this when actually making snowflakes. I tend to make it up as I go along.

1. Leave Less Paper
Most people make snowflakes that look something like the snowflake on the left (pretty, but a bit plain). But, it doesn't require an exacto knife or great skill to make a snowflake like the one on the right. The truth is that it's no harder, you just need to cut away MORE paper before unfolding! (I just folded the snowflake on the left back up and did exactly that to get the snowflake on the right).

Snowflake Types

Focus on the paper left behind more than the shapes you're cutting out, since once you unfold it, the paper will be the "positive" space and the shapes the "negative" space. To use the stained glass window metaphor, the paper will form the "leading" of the window.

If in doubt, keep cutting away until you only have thin lines of paper. Your snowflake may look quite boring when folded, but that all changes when you unfold it! (For the mathematical amongst you, the bit that you see when it's folded is 1/12th the final snowflake).

2. Use Simple Shapes
Start with cutting out only simple shapes. The easiest are triangles or wedges that require only two straight snips into the paper. You can still get a beautiful result just by cutting away most of the paper.

Cutting simple shapes

3. Use Large Shapes
Don't be afraid to cut out large shapes. It may be easier to cut a large piece out in several steps, especially if it's a complex shape.

Cutting out a large shape

4. Cut Methodically
Work your way from one end to the other (ie. top to point or vice versa), rather than randomly cutting stuff out. This makes it easier to ensure you don't have big bits of paper left in the middle.

Snowflake step-by-step

5. Pointy Snowflakes add Variation
To make a snowflake with decided points, remember that you will need to cut off most of one side of your wedge to achieve that effect.

Pointy Snowflake

6. Make Lots of Snowflakes
Practice is obviously always helpful. My first few are usually less successful than the ones I make later.

7. Display Together
My final tip is to always display your snowflakes in groupings. They invariably look more impressive together than individually.

Even More Snowflakes

I hope these tips help you make snowflakes you love. I've got a stack made to go on our tree. This year it will just be our potted ficus tree, rather than a proper "Christmas" tree. I will be waiting until the Winter Solstice to decorate it, as is tradition in my family. So exciting to think that there will be a little one next year, with whom to share these traditions and begin new ones.

If you make some snowflakes using this tutorial, I'd love to see them! Please add your pictures to my flickr group.

And the winner in my snowflake giveaway, chosen by the Random Number Gods is ... Angela #2! I also decided to pick a second winner ... the very first commenter on the post! Congratulations to both of you, I'll email you for your mailing addresses today!

Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.


Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for this Allison! I have never been good at these but your tips have made it look so much easier, I can't wait to get started! And I know my kids will love it too. :)

Susan M, Fibre Arts said... Best Blogger Tips

Your tutorial is absolutely tops! Well done for clarity and exquisite photography.

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Saw your comment on AT and thought I would check it out. Great tutorial, I can't wait to get started!

scjody said... Best Blogger Tips

Awesome, thanks for the tips, I'm going to make some as soon as I get some shiny wrapping paper (I was a magpie in a former life, I'm sure.)

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

hey Allison how to fold that triangle in which you have drawn the line to cut

Allison said... Best Blogger Tips

@peter parker Start with this Tutorial.