With only a few basic crafters’ tools, you can quickly create paper silhouettes. They make beautiful, inexpensive gifts idea for so many different occasions. I have given silhouettes as gifts for Mother’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, weddings and baby showers.
The paper silhouette is simply a foreground page with an image cut out of it layered on top of a background page. The silhouettes can be placed in frames for a much more finished look and presented as gifts. You do not need mats for your frames because the silhouettes create their own mats.
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Step 1: Choosing and Prepping Your Stencil
Finding the Right Silhouette Design: To create your design printout, you must first find an image that will “work”. Simple black and white designs work best. You will also need to choose an image (or alter it) so there are no “floating” pieces of the image. Everything must attach. For instance, in the image shown, if the bird was in flight, with no part of it touching the branches, the bird would fall out of the design once it is cut out. Since the bird is sitting on the branch, it becomes a solid piece of the design and can be used.
Also, every part of the design must in some way be connected to the edges of the image. In the image shown, all of the branches, flowers, etc can be followed to the edges of the images with no interruptions. The spaces where your design meets the edges of the image are your anchor points. The more anchors you have, the “sturdier” your design will be. You can certainly use an image with very few anchors, but your design will be harder to cut out.
Flip the design so you wind up with a mirror image and print it out. This printout is your stencil.
Prepping Your Stencil: Trim around the edges of the stencil leaving an even border all the way around. (If you leave a half inch boarder on one side, leave a half inch border all the way around. In my image, I left no border).
Center your stencil face up on the BACK of your foreground paper. Use a ruler to make sure it is centered because once the completed image is in a frame, a crooked design becomes more obvious. I used the ruler and a pencil to mark out the borders on the foreground paper for my stencil.
Using the scotch tape, secure all sides of the stencil. You do not need to tape the whole edge. Just make sure the edges are secure so they don’t move. It is best to have a piece of tape at each anchor point.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Design
With your craft knife, begin cutting around the image of your stencil. Any straight edges (such as the design borders) can be done using a ruler. The rest is done freehand. If your design image is similar to the one I have shown (black and white), you can cut anywhere in the white area (within the borders!!!) but do not cut inside any of the black areas. Do small sections at a time and go slowly.
As you cut out your design, remove the cut sections to get them out of the way. You can flip the paper over to see your progress. This flip side is the side that will be visible on your finished product.
Step 3: Finishing
Once your design is completely cut out, remove the stencil and the scotch tape. Flip the foreground paper over so the front side is facing and layer it on top of your background paper.
NOTE: If your foreground paper is the same size as your background paper, they can be layered together and immediately framed. If your foreground paper is smaller than your background paper (as shown in the images), flip the foreground over and use a glue stick around the border (not where you cut). Then center the foreground on the background and let it dry before framing.
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