Introduction: Paper Snowflakes

Picture of Paper Snowflakes

This instructable will show you the fine art of Paper Snow Flake making. Now, these ain't your mama's paper snow flakes, these are intricate, themed creations.

I have been making these delicate decorations now for over ten years. I was originally taught how to make them by a very good friend of mine, Glenn Tong. My first encounter with them were by Glenn using them as decorations at a Christmas party my family used to attend every year. I can remember as a small child looking up in wonder of his marvelous creations: dancing pigs, the Eiffel tower, and lobsters. Since he has taught me making them has sort of become a tradition. Some designs come back every year, others last only once. Either way, each one is the continuation of a a tradition, and has sacred happy memories attached.

Each of the snow flakes shown below will be detailed in the examples section

I've created a flickr group for you to showcase the snowflakes you've made. The group is called 'The Great Paper Snowflake Group', its URL is http://www.flickr.com/groups/928430@N20/

Can't wait to see what you've made!

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed

As impressive as these snow flakes can look (I use the word can because I have made some pretty awful and ugly ones) they do not require and special materials, tools, or skills. Only a simple folding method, which will be detailed in a moment.

Tools:
A Writing Utensil
Good Scissors

Materials:
A Piece of Paper (see below)

Attributes:
Patience
Creativity

A note on paper: In all the years I have been making these snow flakes my paper of choice has always been everyday printer paper. It is pretty strong, has a great color for snow flakes (white!) and is cheap and easy to find. I've tried other papers, but always come back to the old stand by.

Step 2: Fold (AKA Hamburgers and Hotdogs)

Picture of Fold (AKA Hamburgers and Hotdogs)

When I was in school we developed a specific way of describing how to fold a paper in half. You had two basic methods: Hamburger and Hotdog. Hamburger producing a short fat fold and hotdog producing a long skinny fold. For this project we'll be using to hamburger folds and an angle. Three folds, that's it.

Fold One:
Fold the paper in half hamburger style. The paper should go from being 11in by 8-1/2in to being 8-1/2in by 5-1/2in.

Fold Two:
Fold the paper in half hamburger style again. In this fold you will bring all four corners of the paper together. The Paper should go from being 8-1/2in by 5-1/2in to 5-1/2in by 4-1/4in.

Fold Three:
Fold the paper into sort of a triangle by bringing the folded edges of the paper together. The pointy (45deg corner) should have nothing but folded edges.

Note on folding: These folds should be made carefully, but do not need to be perfect. More important is that they are crisp. Be sure to run your thumbnail or pen along each fold to get it nice and tight. Also, I don't know why it is, but folding paper is one of the most difficult things to describe with words. If after reading this and looking at the sequential photos below you still have difficulties, post them in the comments please.

Step 3: Design

Picture of Design

Here's where your creativity comes in. Pick a theme and draw a design on your snow flake to cut out. Design must touch both sides and be connected from top to bottom. If these guide lines are not met you will end up with some very pretty cut pieces of paper, but not a snow flake.

Don't feel like you are married to a holiday theme. Explore and have fun. Every year I do at least one grim reaper. It has nothing to do with Christmas or winter (maybe new years) but people love it none the less. Another favorite is putting someone's name in a snow flake.

At the end of this instructable there is a close up of the design, cut, and finished product for each of the five snow flakes shown in the intro. It might be helpful to refer to these when designing your own.

Don't worry about the marks here. Unless you hang your snow flake on a window no one will see the back.

Notes on design: Start with easy designs. Thin sections are harder to cut than thick ones. Once you get the hang of thick cuts then start designing and cutting more intricate thin cuts. Also use the mirrored edges to easily create floating cuts.

Step 4: Cut

Picture of Cut

Cutting is the hardest part of making a snow flake. Draw your design with cutting in mind. Go slow, take your time, and cut carefully. Beyond that you will learn on your own through trial and error. I can not tell you how many snow flakes I have ruined by getting impatient, or over cutting. Take it slow.

Note on cutting: Cut the thinnest parts of the snow flake first, as these cuts are the most difficult, but are made easier when supported but the rest of the paper.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

After you are finished carefully and slowly unfold your work of art. It is heart breaking to finish all the hard work of folding, designing, and cutting, only to tear your snow flake while unfolding it.

Proudly display your handiwork on a dark background. They look great on the wall glued to a piece of construction paper.

If your first few don't come out great don't get discouraged. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. Above all Have fun!

Step 6: Example: Joy

Picture of Example: Joy

This is an example of a relatively easy design. It is made up of pretty thick cuts. I started by cutting out the continents in the O, then cut the rest of the snow flake in no particular order.

Step 7: Example: Bug

Picture of Example: Bug

I have owned nothing but VWs ('76 Bug, '67 Bug, '06 Jetta). Its in my blood! So why not make a snow flake?

Step 8: Example: Death

Picture of Example: Death

A bit morbid, sure. But cool nonetheless. Didn't come out quite like I planned, but I still am happy with it.

Step 9: Example: Love

Picture of Example: Love

Yay! Love!

This is a more difficult design.

Step 10: Example: Sea Horse

Picture of Example: Sea Horse

This is the most difficult snow flake I made tonight. There are lots of little thin cuts. Despite my poorly drawing of a fish, I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Comments

Kylaryn (author)2016-12-22

poor results, got six separate pieces not one connected string, where did I go wrong?

CYNICALifornia (author)Kylaryn2016-12-23

Sounds like your design did not touch both sides.

banndit12 (author)2016-01-12

Love these! Thank you.

Dan.Broomhead (author)2015-12-22

I won a contest for a knife collecting-based Facebook group that i belong to. The only caveat for the contest was that you had to use a knife of some sort, no scissors. I used an Exacto with a fresh sharp blade. I was able to make very intricate cuts, the sharp inner corners of the cuts did require a little clean-up when unfolded. I always use Exactos now and recommend them. Depending on the weight of your paper you may need to make a few passes of each cut, doing so will cut down on hand fatigue and make the cuts more even through the thickness.

PoopyDoopy12345678 (author)2015-12-16

I just hung paper snowflakes on my window

hiccuphh123 (author)2015-06-16

I am a huge fan of how to train your dragon but this is awesome this is probably the last comment ill be making by the way

hiccuphh123 (author)2015-06-16

I am a huge fan of how to train your dragon but this is awesome this is probably the last comment ill be making by the way

hiccuphh123 (author)2015-06-16

I tried these and then lots of my friends came and made them two it was fun it brang out the inner frozen in us

ahamedaashif (author)2014-01-27

nice one

urbanwoodswalker (author)2013-12-11

I found that using a spray starch on whie coffee filters works best. Iron the filters dry and crisp before you fold them. You can also iron the folds in for extremely detailed designs.....but you will need to iron them out after the flake is cut. This is the way I have created public holiday displays... With hundreds of paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling.

urbanwoodswalker (author)2013-12-11

You will have a 100 times easier job with spring action type micro point scissors. I use Fiskars...the micro sharp small tip gets the tiny intricacies and the spring action cuts down on hand fatigue. The difference in final product will be tremendous.

Try it! You will never go back to old scissors when cutting out complicated snow flakes.

ElZorro (author)2012-02-12

This is my favorite!

Nice early pope's nose!

chekiert (author)2011-11-22

Love these!!! Just did a couple of them up and I think my Girl Scouts will be able to make some awesome ones. Can't wait to show them....

MinMo (author)2011-11-15

Those are gorgeous! It's hard to believe it's just paper cut with scissors, they're so beautiful. I'm going to try it out right now.

flakemaker (author)2011-02-04

Okay, I am totally into this now. Thank you so much. I didn't make any of your designs, but not because I don't like them (I do). It was mainly because I didn't feel like copying them out and I wanted to do my own thing. At first I did some simple letters and words, and then I moved on to more complex letters - I wrote "Valentine's Day" on one (inspired by my friend's goal to make valentines for her friends) and it came out really well - I'm really proud of it. Then I moved on to pictures - I did one with leafy vines and hearts which came out looking like a doily - very cool! Then, last but not least (and I'm not done yet) I made one with a cat batting at a flower. Since I can't draw cats to save my life I traced it, but the cutting was still cool even though I can't take credit for the drawing.

One question - Do you always use scissors? One big problem that I ran into was not being able to close spaces because there was no way to get in with the scissors to get out the middle (big problem with making letters...). How do you get around this? I'll post pictures soon.

sweetandsassy1359 (author)2009-12-22

what does it say pointing to the bottom?

Center.

instantphoebe (author)2010-01-04

 This was not only a cool project but you did a good job of explaining it!

evesangel (author)2009-12-23

ok this is totally cool, this is day two of snowflake search and i bumped up on this site, SWEEET! I made joy and it was noticable when i pointed it out. Yay for me big accomplishment. Totally excited about this site and great instructions.

sheepborg (author)2009-12-23

Ok, master plan:
it is the 23rd
i am going to make six
and put them on a board
and they will each have one word
and it will end out saying
"mom brings joy to the world"
now to get to work
fortunatly i have already made a bunch of my own
so i am in practice

RedRaspus (author)2009-12-16

 For more an paper snowflakes, visit http://athousandsnowflakes.com -- I made a thousand four-point style snowflakes based on this Instructable...

CYNICALifornia (author)RedRaspus2009-12-21

Your project looks way fun. I am sincerly humbled to be have been able to help in some way. Thanks so much to the link on your blog.

Merry Christmas.
~Tom

scoochmaroo (author)2009-12-21

These are amazing.
I would give them 6 stars if I could.

Too kind. Glad you enjoyed it.

eulaliaaaa! (author)2009-11-27

I know I commented on this before, but awesome job!  I made Death, and my own version of Bug.  Bug is not as good as yours, but it at least turned out.  I made a few of my own, too.  I will post some pictures if you like.

No worries, I don't think anyone will complain about comments (I know I'm greatful for the feed back). And I'd absolutely like to see your snowflakes.

Okay, I just need to get the pictures uploaded.

Chromatica (author)2009-12-05

Too awesome
Faved for sure

Ministryofhate (author)2009-12-05

Woah ... i remember this enstructable almost getting me fired.... i made some pretty snowflakes though...

I'm pretty sure someone started a flickr group

Kenta-Rin (author)2009-12-04

I made SEVEN. :D

Thank you so much for this!

I am going to make a ton for my family and my English Class. :D

Dovetail (author)2009-11-20

Yay! After 4 snowflakes I finally managed to not cut mine in half! Epic. I'm so glad I stumbled on this tutorial. My boss is going to hate me at the end of the day though when the office is covered in snow flakes 

CYNICALifornia (author)Dovetail2009-12-03

The trick there is to make one with you boss's name in it and give it to them. I usually don't get bugged after that for my art projects at work. :)

BluStrawberryBaby (author)2009-11-23

Mine is messed up :( I need start all over.... but its pretty cool ;D

enza99 (author)2009-01-10

just want to comment make sure u have good spacing on the E... it is very hard with the outline i drew... and on that heart inside the O... i cut that just a little too far and then the entire snowflake split into four... but it was only my first try at least now i kno to do more spacing on the design... it seemed easier in my head but... its folded four times and cutting is thick and then u have so much pressure and go to far at times

CYNICALifornia (author)enza992009-11-08

Yes, the paper gets very thick.

If you could only see how many failed snow flake I produced . . . monuments to learning.

eulaliaaaa! (author)2009-11-02

Yeah, But looking back, it's SCYTHE not SCATHE.

I am much more adept at scissors then spelling. :)

coolboy45 (author)2008-12-17

what is the mirrored edge for and how do you make it?

kawaiipeach (author)coolboy452009-11-08

it means that when you unfold the paper, you will have the same design on both sides of the mirror edge. You don't have to do anything more for the mirror edge, just follow step 2.

Good lookin' out Kawaiipeach. Thanks for answering the question in my absence.

Also note that designs on the other side of the mirrored edge will be reversed, as though viewed in a mirror.

Toni_J (author)2009-11-08

Hi! These are great! Last christmas I did Love, Death and Joy.

Have you got any new examples for this christmas :)

CYNICALifornia (author)Toni_J2009-11-08

I have yet to start my snowflakes this year, but am excited we're finally at this time of year.

I'll try to post my new flakes to the flickr group which you can get to by clicking: www.flickr.com/groups/928430@N20/

Also, PLEASE post your own snowflakes too!

CYNICALifornia (author)2009-11-08

I wanted to say Thank You! to everyone who has checked out, commented on, or rated this instructable. You all are fabulous. Please forgive my lack of replies as I have been very busy and at times without an internet connection.

Again, thank you.

kawaiipeach (author)2009-11-08

i love your designs!!!! Thanks for the steps about how to fold the paper, I've always tried but failed! :) 

eulaliaaaa! (author)2009-11-02

WWWWWWOOOOOAH!

Flumpkins (author)2009-01-02

WOW!! This is so awesome I'm 5*ing it and FAVing it!~

Another reason Is because I wanna come back to it... My paper holding hand might be fractured :S

bootilicious (author)Flumpkins2009-09-16

hi there i have a qustion for u... im doing a project at school with paper snowflakes and i need to know some info for it do u by any chance know who started the hole paper snow flake makeing and how they came up with it if u could comment me back or message me and let me know if u could help me i would apresheat that have a wonderful day thank you

Flumpkins (author)bootilicious2009-09-16

I'm not sure...

bootilicious (author)2009-09-16

hi there ummm i have a quick qustion for u... im doing a project in school and i need to know some info on paper snowflake makeing and i cant seem to find it i need to know who started the hole paper snowflake thing and how they got the idea if u can message or comment me back letting me know if u can help me out i would apresheat it plz and thank you... have a good day

CHOCLatier07 (author)2009-07-14

I think the fish looks really cool!

About This Instructable

465,989views

608favorites

License:

Bio: I'm just another person out there trying to get the most out of life. I love to expole the world around me and try ... More »
More by CYNICALifornia:Radio Go Box (Ham, MURS, GMRS and FRS) How To Enjoy A Prickly PearHead-rest Speaker Mount (for ham, CB, or scanner radios)
Add instructable to: