Instructables

How to Make 6-Pointed Paper Snowflakes

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Picture of How to Make 6-Pointed Paper Snowflakes
This step by step guide will teach you how to make SIX pointed paper snowflakes. Most people make (and most how-tos teach) snowflakes with four or eight points. Real snowflakes in nature form with six points (or occasionally three if they formed weird) so I choose to make my own with six points. I taught myself this technique in high school and have been making paper snowflakes around Christmas time ever since.

All you will need for this is paper and scissors. Some people like to use fancy paper, but I use plain white copy paper because somehow the simplicity of white is more beautiful to me.

If you want to view a gallery of my snowflakes, see me on Flickr: Paper Snowflake Gallery.

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Step 1: Step 1

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First, begin with a square piece of copy paper. I usually make two snowflakes for every 8.5"x11" piece of paper, so I first cut the paper in half, and then make a square from each half. This makes a snowflake about 5" across. If you're just learning to make snowflakes, using a full piece of paper for each snowflake may be easier to practice with.

You can make a square from a rectangular piece of paper simply by folding one corner down to form an isosceles triangle (like the one in the next step) and trimming off the excess paper.

Step 2: Step 2

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Fold the square of paper diagonally to make a triangle.

Step 3: Step 3

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Fold this larger triangle in half to make a smaller triangle.

Step 4: Step 4

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Imagine the triangle in thirds, and fold the right third over, as shown. If you want to be precise and have a protractor, each "third" in this step is a 30 degree angle.

See the explanation above, from a worksheet I made up, which should help to explain folding in thirds a little better.

Step 5: Step 5

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Fold the left third over. Try to get all of the folds to line up as close as possible for the most symmetrical snowflake.

Step 6: Step 6

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Cut off the top of the paper at an angle. Make sure to cut if off so that all remaining layers of paper are equal. Cutting at an angle is what makes the points of the snowflake. Eventually, you'll learn to cut at different angles to make snowflakes with points that are more or less sharp.

Step 7: Step 7

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This is where your imagination comes in. Begin cutting away from the sides of the paper. Usually, cutting small triangles from the sides is easiest, but don't forget to try other shapes.

For this snowflake, I altered the top edge a little to make my points a different shape. I also cut out a piece with a "spiky" edge. Use your imagination!

 I don't use patterns for my snowflakes: I just cut as I go. My snowflakes are never the same because I don't usually plan out my snowflakes. Sometimes I find a new cut or shape that I like, and I may use the same technique on a different snowflake, but I don't copy the whole snowflake.

Step 8: Step 8:The Reveal

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Unfold the paper very carefully.

The snowflake will not lay flat right away, so I like to tuck them between the pages of a book for a while before displaying them. I have also ironed them (between two pieces of plain paper) to make them extra flat. Watch out though, because paper can get very hot to the touch when ironed (don't use steam!) so be sure to let it cool for a second before handling the paper, and as always excercise caution to avoid fire and burns. Ironing them also seems to make them a tiny bit stiffer, which could be good if you want to hang them rather than tape them to a surface.

Step 9: Tips!

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Materials:

- Make sure you have sharp scissors and clean hands. Dirty hands make for dingy snowflakes!

-Some people recommend using cuticle scissors so that you can make even more intricate snowflakes. I don't like this for two reasons. First, cuticle scissors are not comfortable in your hand. A comfortable grip is essential. Second, it is possible to get too intricate. Too many tiny snips and not enough shaping will just make your snowflakes look like lace doilies.

-Snowflake experts recommend using tracing paper and an X-acto knife to make snowflakes, to make them even more delicate and more perfectly symmetrical. However, I still like plain paper and scissors, since those are things that anyone has and you can use them with kids.

-Some people like to use wrapping paper or other fancy paper to make their snowflakes. Use whatever you like to create the desired effect. I stick with plain white copy paper because somehow I get a lot of satisfaction from creating something so beautiful from something so ordinary.

Making Snowflakes:

-I usually make my snowflakes while sitting down on a couch or chair with a coffee table in front of me, and a small trash can between my knees. This way I can lean forward to fold the paper on the table, and then sit up and snip bits of paper into the trash can. This makes less mess.

-When folding, steps 4-5 are the hardest, when you have to try and estimate thirds. Often, you'll fold the second third over, only to discover that it doesn't line up exactly in thirds. You'll have to unfold and refold until it's as exact as you can get it. The closer to exact thirds you can get it, the more symmetrical your snowflake will be. As it is, the thickness of the paper and the amount of folding that you do will make it so that making a precisely symmetrical snowflake is almost impossible. This will be most obvious in the center of the snowflake: look at some of mine. The star in the middle of some is not perfectly symmetrical. It happens. Real snowflakes have defects too, so don't worry about it.

-Avoid what I call "blank space". This is when you're cutting your snowflake in Step 7, and you leave behind big spaces of blank paper in your snowflake. Generally, anything thicker than 1/4th of an inch gets cut down into a thinner line, or by decorated it in some way (like by making tiny triangle snips all along the edge to give it "teeth"). Otherwise, when you open your snowflake, it will have thick, clunky lines instead of nice delicate ones. Sometimes thicker lines do create a different effect when contrasted with thinner lines, but use sparingly.

Decorating With Snowflakes:

-A tiny piece of double-sided tape behind each point is a good way to stick them to a surface. I love to put mine on windows so that they're visible from inside and out. They show up beautifully at night against the dark glass.

-These can be hung from the ceiling, but be careful because they are delicate. It may be wise to cut some with thicker lines for support (imagine making a skeleton for the snowflake: thicker lines for structure surrounded by the delicate parts for show) if you want to hang them. White or invisible thread, or fishing line, works great.

-Use your practice snowflakes to decorate gifts instead of a bow. I like taping a single snowflake to a gift, and then putting a plain gift tag on top of it. The lacy looking snowflake makes a pretty backdrop for the tag.

-Save the end scraps of paper from when you cut the original sheet of paper into a square. Use these little pieces to make tiny simple snowflakes that you can place around your larger snowflakes when decorating. This makes a "sprinkle" effect that looks wonderful, and you can fill more space without using up all your larger snowflakes. I didn't discover this idea until after the picture above was taken.

Step 10: Analyzing a Snowflake

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If you do want to try and copy a snowflake that you see, or at least get an idea of how to make one similar, try to visualize the slice of the snowflake that represents the completely folded paper. This is one slice out of twelve symmetrical slices. It will be a line that cuts through the middle of one point, and intersects with a line cut though the middle of the "valley" between it and the adjacent point. If it makes it easier, pretend that the snowflake is a clock and the lines you're imagining are the hands when it's one o'clock. See picture.

This slice of the snowflake shows what your cuts should look like if you want a snowflake that looks like this. It may be easier to visualize if you look at the black (cut out) spaces and think about those shapes being cut away. This is how you can make a "template", in a way, based on snowflakes that you see.

Step 11: Replicating a Real Snowflake

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From time to time I try and copy a real snowflake that I see in a book or online. It's impossible to copy an actual snow crystal exactly because they're simply too intricate, they're 3-D, and some parts of the snowflake are attached with a layer of ice so thin that it looks invisible.....if you tried to copy one exactly, it would fall apart. However, you can still try to mimic the form of a real snowflake.

Real snowflakes often have large areas of "blank space" that don't look very good when rendered in paper. A flip through a snowflake photography book shows that quite a few snowflakes form as just a simple hexagon with few details. If the snowflake you're copying has a lot of blank space, embellish it anyway. Since it can't be an exact replica, it might as well be pretty!

Basically, just use the technique from step 10. Imagine the how a real snowflake would look if it were a slice of a pie. Think of the clock hands at 1 o'clock.

Above are two examples of snowflakes that I've tried to replicate. I've added a second view of each with the "slice" highlighted.
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Jo Flandez19 days ago

Thank you for a very good instructable on snowflakes. This comes very handy as my niece is celebrating her 7th birthday with "Frozen" movie motif. I'll use the snowflakes to decorate my brother's costume. Many many thanks!

binarybosses5 months ago

very clean and easy to follow instructions. good job.

SpringRobin6 months ago

Very nice Instructible! We could some snow around here.

jmarschel7 months ago
This is fantastic! Thank you. It had been so long since I made a paper snowflake. My 8 year old loved this. We found another link from Martha Stewart. I followed the instructions exactly and it ended up cutting the snowflake in half.
bakunin7 months ago
I've been doing mine this way since I was a kid.
A few years back I was showing my nieces how to do it and one asked me to make one with hearts.
Hmm, I haven't tried to cut that many tight curves in so many layers of paper before, I thought.
It came out awesome!
You can make very lacy loopy snowflakes by cutting like this:
- Hold the folded-up paper firmly without bending it.
- Keep the scissors stationary as you cut.
- Rotate the paper slowly into the blades as you smoothly squeeze the scissors.
- It's easier to keep the layers together if you make smaller cuts. Look for flat parts of your curves where you can join up two cuts invisibly.
- Keep your fingertips out of the way of the scissors!
stormys7 months ago
WOW!, excelente!!!
jtmcdole7 months ago
These are awesome!
Gorgeous! Edward Scissors Hands has nothing on you!
AnyaAnya7 months ago
I don't get step 5 and 6. How?
magicalmajid7 months ago
coooooooooooooooooooooool
BubbaGump1238 months ago
So I am doing this for my family. I am the oldest of my siblings and I am 15. I think it would help others if you explained steps 4-6 a little better, but other than that this was a very helpful project.
ReadsInTrees (author)  BubbaGump1238 months ago
Steps 4-6 are the hardest to explain and learn. I'm not sure how else to explain them better....If you figured it out, do you have any ideas on how to explain those steps better?
I guess you could try showing more images for that step. I would have an image for each part of steps 4-6.
ReadsInTrees (author)  BubbaGump1237 months ago
Hmm...there is an image for each part of those steps. I included a drawn instruction as well in Step 4 for those steps, but each step does have an image.
123creation7 months ago
Thanks fr the instructions on these beautiful snowflakes. They look great on my wall!
ReadsInTrees (author)  123creation7 months ago
You're welcome! If you used white paper, try hanging them on your windows. They look great against the black of night!
WUVIE7 months ago
Oh, I love these! Great Instructable!

Somewhere in all the paper files in this house, I have some patterns. Thanks for reminding me! I'll have to find them, and use some of yours, too.
ReadsInTrees (author)  WUVIE7 months ago
Thank you! I hope my guide to "Analyzing a Snowflake" can help you imitate snowflakes that you see when there's no template available.
BubbaGump1238 months ago
How do you make the points super sharp?
nevermind
dcms48 months ago
This was very cool and provided some great tips. But I would have really liked to see the folded cut out version of all of the designs you showed. Technique is great, but actually making something beautiful takes talent. Not all of us are talented, but most of us can follow directions. :)
ReadsInTrees (author)  dcms48 months ago
Hi, thanks for visiting my page!

I don't provide templates because I believe this stifles creativity. Part of the technique is figuring out which sort of cuts are going to make which sorts of designs. If you're only copying someone else's design, you're not learning. There are plenty of tutorials out there that will just tell someone how to make some basic designs while including some templates to copy....I wanted my tutorial to be different, to actually teach the technique itself instead of coddling. Steps 10 and 11 delve into how to look at a snowflake you like and envision the "template" for that snowflake....Trust me, many of the snowflakes don't look like anything when they're folded up...just a little squiggly piece of paper scrap. Only when it's unfolded can you see the overall design, and by analyzing the snowflake, as in step 10, you can see how the "template" relates to the overall design.

Happy scissoring!
Matt2 Silver8 months ago
wow 1.6 million views in about 11 days, good for you!! Great instructable, I learned how to make these in 6th grade and forgot over the years, nice to have a refresher, Thank you :).
ReadsInTrees (author)  Matt2 Silver8 months ago
Oh goodness, no, it's been more than 11 days. This was posted in 2009.
Oh well color me embarrassed. In any case it's still a really good instructable thank you for sharing it.
Mielameri8 months ago
These are simply fabulous! Thank you!
ReadsInTrees (author)  Mielameri8 months ago
Thank you! Glad you enjoy them!
entropy8888 months ago
excellent instructable
ReadsInTrees (author)  entropy8888 months ago
Thank you!
Dejaykomm2 years ago
My first attempts at the 6 point snowflake. :-) comments appreciated. :-)
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Nicely done!! Pretty impressive for a first attempt, too.....
They are so beautiful!!!!
Beautiful!
:-) Thankyou!!
beautiful
:-) Thankyou.
ReadsInTrees (author)  Dejaykomm2 years ago
Nice job! I hope my instructions and tips were helpful.
it was your tutoring and design styles that led the way. :-)
Annabeth doesn't get confused. Just saying. ;)
how do you imagine a triangle in thirds i am very confused.
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