Introduction: Cut Silhouette Book Art

This is what you get if you take my old folded book art instructable, my cut butterfly stencil art instructable, and add them together!

As I mentioned in my previous instructables, my wife likes books and butterflies! 

This can be made as a present, or to display in your own home.


Date Made: Feb 2014
Approx Cost: £1
Approx Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Medium

Step 1: What You Need

Materials You Need

* A book


Tools You Need

* Computer/Printer
* Sharp Knife/Scissors
* A ruler for getting straight cuts
* Selotape or glue to fix down the templates

Step 2: Choose Book

You could use a new book, an old book, a blank book, a picture book, a book that themes with your design, a thick book, a thin book, a plain cover, a multicolored cover; the choices are endless. At the end of the day it's up to you.

I chose a paperback book as I don't really have the tools to cut neatly through a hardback book. If you had a laser cutter you could use a hardback which would give more structure to it once cut to help it stand up. You could still do it with a knife but probably wouldn't give you a very neat result due to the force you would have to use.

I chose my design before the book, so tried to find one with a multicolored cover, as butterflies are always colorful. I also really like printed text, so wanted an old book, not blank pages.

I chose a pattern book as it gave me a big area of colour and pattern to work with. I would also of liked to of used a hardback here because they generally have a different coloured band running down the spine, which would have worked well with the butterfly body.


Step 3: Design / Template

I already had my design in mind, and drawn up (see my butterfly frame cut stencil art instructable for more info on how I created these designs), So all I had to do was scale it up to fit the book and print it!

You can create your own designs, or use mine. If you have chosen your book already, let it give you inspiration, both by its physical appearance, and it's content!

Remember that your designs need to be symmetrical if you want them to 'fold out'.

Some suggestions: a heart (for valentines), a stags head (you could even mount it like one), a flower, a building (Eiffel Tower, house, Big Ben), or anything really!

Once designed you need to scale to fit your book, and print! I printed off 5 different sizes so that I could offer each size up and choose the best fit.

If you have a different coloured spine band, and want to use that to be the body of the butterfly (or whatever you chose to make), then use that to help with your scaling.

I have included my pdfs in case you want to use them.

Step 4: Cut

As I mentioned before, you could do the cutting with a laser cutter, but you could also do it with a scroll saw, a fret saw or as I have done, with a knife. I used a knife because I don't own any of the others!

You want to make your cuts as neat and vertical as possible, so that you don't get a 'blurry' image!

A laser cutter would be accurate and straight/plumb, but would leave a darkened edge. A scroll saw would be easy and plumb, but might leave a rough edge, so you would need to make sure the blade is thin enough. A knife is easy to obtain, and is accurate and neat, but wont go through a thick book in one go. 

I positioned my template on the front of the book, fixed it down and then cut round it. Due to the fact that I couldn't cut through the whole book in one go, I had to do it in stages, opening the book and tracing the last 'cut' page.

Note: I was lucky in the positioning of my spine bindings, meaning that both sections of my book were still 'bound' after being cut, but if yours aren't, then you may want to staple or glue (or something else) to keep them secure.

Step 5: Display

This is like a multi-functional piece of art!

There are many ways that you can display it; you can enjoy it as a butterfly, as a book with a butterfly shaped hole, or as the two combined! Have a play and see what you can come up with!

You could mount it in a frame, or leave it on a shelf/sideboard.

However you display it, you may want to put small bits of foam pads or blue tack between each page - to act as 'spacers' so that the pages don't all flop and lie flat.

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Mr_o_uk (author)2014-02-28

If you liked this, Check out my other papercraft/book instructables...

About This Instructable

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Bio: I studied Maths and Computing, worked in an Operation Research department, retrained as a civil engineer, worked on site for some major projects. I'm ... More »
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