Introduction: 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
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.
A Writing Utensil
A Piece of Paper (see below)
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)
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 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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This is a more difficult design.
Step 10: 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.