Introduction: PapercuttingFun101

A unique gift for my mom for her birthday. Takes a while but so worth it in the end.

Step 1: 60th Birthday Present

Hi Everyone!

I wanted to post something for the people out there that want to give their mom's the world but who's bank account say's that's not possible. This year it's my mom's 60th Birthday and I've spent months upon month's racking my brain of what I should get her. Flowers? They wilt. Food? It's yummy for a bit but then it's gone.

So this year, I decided that I would make her something that sums up our lives together. Something that screams "you've been an amazing mom".

I'm not really sure how to post instructions on here but here it goes.

Step 2: Papercutting Prep

What you need:

Ideas (lot's of them)

Exact-knife (lot's of blades)


Paper (of your choice. Thinner paper is easier to cut on. I used watercolour paper from Michaels. It's acid free and won't yellow over time.

Editing Software

Step 3: All the Steps Before Paper Cutting.

So, to begin, if you're wanting to make your mom or friend a framed piece of paper-cut art, you need to know it's time consuming. It took me about 20 hours to prep for printing and another 2 weeks to cut. Don't rush or you'll have to start over again.

1. Start with ideas. Figure out what this person likes and write it down. Have any cute sayings they've used? Now's the time to incorporate them. Sayings are great for fill-ins. For example, for my mom's present I used saying they said when I was a child, or things we used to do. Our family loved to go into the bush on weekends and look for old buildings etc, so people called us "bush runners". Steepy rock path was a word mix up by my mom and it gave everyone (including her) a big chuckle.

Some of the ideas won't worry, either due to space restrictions or because it just doesn't "look" right.

2. Go into photoshop or illustrator (or any design program) and start with the size. The bigger the canvas the more you can fit and the more intricate details you can cut. Cutting on a small piece of paper (anything smaller than 8 by 10) is really difficult and you'll end up slicing through the intricate cut. My design was 16 by 28 approximately.

3. After you know the canvas size start designing. Make a border or swirls or hearts. It's easier to attach items to the border. Add the biggest words next. Figure out placement. Mine worked well with the "60" being the biggest numbers on there.

4. Start adding smaller objects to the canvas. Resize appropriately. What I did was have everything I was going to cut out either in black or white. If you're just a beginner then I'd choose white as the cutout standard.

5. If you're adding words make sure they attach to objects. As you can see in the final product, when I used words I attach them to several objects (usually). It's sturdier when you end up cutting.

6. Finalize Finalize Finalize. Make sure the parts you're cutting are on the layout. You have no idea how frustrating it is to cut out a line or squiggle that should NOT be cut out.

7. Add the final touches. Add squiggles, hearts, stars, clouds and whatever else you want to fill in some blank spaces. The spaces look small in photoshop but when you print it out on a big piece of a paper the spaces get bigger.

8. Now, hopefully everything is in black and white. I used my photography printer to print it out in black and white. Colour costs a lot more to print in so even grayscale will work.

9. Finally print it out and get ready for the fun!

Step 4: Papercutting

So, if you've got it all printed out get everything ready. Make sure you have your extra blades, (you'll need a lot),and a mat to put your design on (if you choose). Put some music on and have lights around you. It's much easier to concentrate that way.

1. I start with the smallest, most intricate designs first. DO NOT CUT THE BORDER OUT. It makes the art less stable to work with. I've made that mistake hundreds of times and always ending up having to start again because the piece of piece isn't sturdy.

2. Change your blade often. Dull blades will shred the paper or make uneven lines.

3. Take frequent breaks. Your eyes will get sore, red and hurt. Taking breaks will help you re-focus. Like I said, this one took weeks to cut out and I was cutting every day for about six hours a day.

4. After you've cut it out you can easily affix it to a background colour with some Zip Dry Glue. Just don't over handle the piece of work. Your skin is oily and you would hate to give mom a piece of paper with fingerprint marks.

Hopefully this helped some people realize that moms especially love gifts from the heart and that although it may take a while they'll appreciate it more than any kind of flower or take-out food.

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