How to Make a Valentines Hand-Cut Paper Gift




Introduction: How to Make a Valentines Hand-Cut Paper Gift

I have always loved silhouettes and crafts and this is an easy, yet beautiful way to combine the two. I love hand-cutting Valentine gifts because the possibilities are literally endless to what you can create.

This instrucable isn't how to make one specifichand-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: 

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 


***Side Notes

*For my paper, I use Hygloss Silhouette Paper which can be found here:  
**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.

Step 2: Step 1

This is an un-cut sheet of silhouette paper.

I use, pretty much exclusively, Hygloss Silhouette paper from DickBlick:

I buy it in rolls of twelve 20x30 sheets, but don't be afraid to try other paper!

This paper is incredible! It is actually white paper that has been covered in a thin layer of matte-black paint. This is good for two reasons: 1, you have one side that is white so you can draw a design on it, and 2. because it's painted, there is less chance of the black fading over time. 

I work from the white side of the paper, which means that when I'm done, my designs get flipped around. This is very important when you work from the white side! If you are doing anything that can not be backwards (text, recognizable architecture, etc) you will need to cut your design backwards. In my case, I always create my designs in the computer (easy to resize, tweek, and otherwise mess around with my original designs before cutting them), so before I start cutting I flip my designs backwards, print them as a pattern, and adhere them to the white side of the paper with a bit of light-tack spray adhesive from Krylon

**Before I print out my design to adhere to the back of the silhouette paper, I make sure that I resize my design to the size that I want in order to fit the right size of frame that I want to frame it in.

For example, I usually cut pieces that are 16x20in because the standard size of an illustration board is 16x20, and it is very easy to find a frame that is it just makes it less of a hassle for me. But of course you can cut it any size that you want.**

Step 3: Step 2

When I finish cutting the design, I peel off the pattern and flip the silhouette paper over to the finished black side.

Step 4: Step 3

Next is to adhere your already-cut silhouette to a white (or any other color you wish) illustration board.

I prefer to use Studio Tac which is very simple to use.
Essentially, this adhesive is a sheet of thousands of very small white silicon adhesive dots. They are packaged in sheets, with a a wax paper cover. You place your artwork on the dots, then rub the back, which sticks the dots to the back of the design, then you peel off the design and stick it to your background. Pretty simple, and it has great coverage.

They stick very well. I have several mess-up papercuts that I simply slapped on my studio walls, and they are still up there after months of dramatic temperature changes and no glass covering.

A few very very helpful tips.

1. It sticks pretty good, so be very careful removing your piece from the wax paper.

2. It's technically repositionable, which is great for when you stick it down not quite in the perfect spot, but it is very good at long-term adhesive.

3. Because it's silicon, it has a bit of a rubbery ness that allows your piece to expand and contract with weather and not become detached. I've had pieces adhered for years without any sign of detachment.

4. Personally, I would avoid the "permanent" kind since the regular kind is quite permanent and still allows repositioning.

5. Place your piece upside down on the sheet of wax paper that isn't covered in dots, then press the sheet with dots down onto the back of the piece. It stops the piece from moving and getting wrinkles, trust me.

6. Rub the back of the piece (the side with the dots) not the front of the piece. This makes the dots stick more thoroughly

***When peeling your piece from the the adhesive dots, be sure to remove slowly because your piece can easily rip.***

7. When mounting your piece, lay your piece face down (sticky dots up) on a grided surface, like a quilters mat, and use the grid to place the piece in the right spot, then take your pre-cut background, and line it up with the grid, and slowly fold it over your papercut. This I have found to be the best way to mount your work without damaging, folding, creasing, or otherwise messing up your papercut.

8. This adhesive works best for white backgrounds as tiny bits of the dots will overhang your papercut. If you are adhering it to a white background, these will become completely invisible, but if you are mounting to a colored background, they may be very noticeable and I recommend a different adhesive like double sided tape.

9. If any stray dots get on your work, you can remove them with a very clean soft eraser and they come right off.

10. #9 is especially helpful if you accidently put the wrong side down and cover your presentation side with thousands of tiny sticky white dots.

Step 5: Step 4

Once you have your piece mounted onto the background of your choice, all you have to do is find a frame that fits your background size and taste and then you are all set!

I hope you have enjoyed this instructable as much as I have enjoyed sharing it.

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    These are clearly awesome! I'm just curious if you will ad some direction about where to get designs or how to make them on the computer. I think it would be AWESOME if you could upload some you've already made. I love the eye ball and the skill.

    Really creative!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    That is really impressive!! Your patience far surpasses mine certainly! I would have thought you laser cut at least a few of those!


    10 years ago on Step 5

    WOW!!! Your papercuts are "cutting" edge.....thank you for sharing your talent!!


    10 years ago on Step 4

    I'm just wondering why you don't use the spray adhesive again for the last mounting? And thank you for this amazing instructable!! Your papercuts are wonderful!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I can't wait to make some of my own. Thanks for a great instructable!