This instrucable isn't how to make one specific hand-cut, Valentine silhouette that I have made, but just how to make them in general.
I hope you enjoy cutting them as much as I do!
Step 1: Supplies
Any silhouette design that you like
X-acto knife #11 and Swivel Blade (can be found at any art supply store)
"Self Healing" cutting board (can be found at any art supply store)
Studio Tac or Letra Tac (or any kind of adhesive used for scrapbooking. Can be found here: http://www.dickblick.com/products/letraset-studiotac-dry-mount-adhesives/?wmcp=google&wmcid=products&wmckw=24905-1000-2518#description)
Light-tack spray adhesive from Krylon (I got it at Hobby Lobby)
Paper you want to cut your silhouette out of. You can use card stock or other colored paper. (See notes)
White illustration board
*For my paper, I use Hygloss Silhouette Paper which can be found here: http://www.dickblick.com/products/hygloss-black-silhouette-paper/
**For a couple of reasons-
- Acid free and Lignin free are EXTREMELY important! Can't stress this enough. The natural acid and lignin found in most wood/paper needs to be removed or your paper will discolor, become brittle, and possibly simply fall apart over time. Look for fade-resistant paper (should be labeled as such) if you are using non-white paper. The paint on the sihouette paper is much less likely to fade as it is more light-fast
-Thin is good, but too thin is a nightmare. You want the paper to be easy to cut, but not so fragile that you are constantly tearing it. I recommend not going much past 70 pound paper unless you want a really good hand cramp.
-Texture is very important. You want the paper have very tiny fibers in it. If the fibers are too large, your corners and areas where the paper isn't cut completely through will have stringy bits of fiber sticking out of them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and, in my opinion, a very good indication of the quality and skill of a papercut. You want all your edges, corners, and cuts to be clean with very little overcutting (cutting beyond the intersection of two lines). Hand-made paper is beautiful and I would love to work with it, but it's extremely fibrous. I'm not above tearing a 2mm tear in the edge of paper to see how clean it is, but you can usually tell just by running your hands on the paper. The less texture, the smoother the paper, the better.
Some paper is actually died after it is rolled, whereas with others, the pulp of the paper is dyed first before being rolled. Very hard to tell which it is when you are looking at it, but the pulp-dyed paper has a more thorough dye-job and though it will fade, it will appear to fade slower as there is more dye throughout the paper.
Finally, and probably most important to your paper looking good over hundreds of years, you should frame ALL your papercuts. All of 'em. These buggers are dust magnets and are too delicate to easily clean. Always use UV glass, which will help block some of the damaging ray of the sun from fading or otherwise altering your paper. Keep the paper out of direct sunlight, and away from exterior walls (walls where the other side of the wall is the outdoors) unless your house is very well insulated. The temperature changes of exterior walls aren't terribly bad for your paper, but the more stable you can keep your piece (heat, light, moisture, etc) the less likely your piece will deteriorate over time. Think about mummies: deserts are always dry and pretty much the same weather all the time= preservation. Submerged wooden ships stay in pretty good shape because they are always wet and about the same temperature. Fences in New England, where the weather is always changing and there is about a 100 degree range of temperature throughout the year rot.