Nature Spinners

About: I love crafts, nature and bringing the two together. I dream about papercuttings and one day owning a laser cutter to help me mass produce my own cuttings and help others market their businesses.

Explore the simplicity and elegance of one of our most useful resources - PAPER! This instructable will teach you how to create your own, handmade, 3-D, spinning, papercut ornament!

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Step 1: Gather Supplies

First off, make sure you have everything you will need. The great thing about this project is that it is extremely inexpensive!

2 sheets of cardstock or any heavy paper
X-acto knife
Computer paper or any plain, white paper (lightweight)
Elmer's Glue
Self-healing mat (can be found at arts & craft stores, also quilt stores)
Thread or Fishing Line


Step 2: Creat Your Design

One of the main goals of papercutting is to create a picture from a single piece of paper by cutting sections away. So when coming up with a design it is important to keep in mind that the images need to connect in some way if they are going to remain stable and together. You can use one of the patterns that I have attached or design one of your own.

When I begin my design, I like to start with a symmetrical shape. Lately I've been using the computer to get my initial shape, that way I know that it will be a perfect match once it's folded. But it is not necessary to do this. Here are some shapes that I have used, you can print them and draw your own design inside the shapes.

(These shapes all fit onto an 8 1/2 X 11 piece of paper - so each image is roughly 4 X 5 1/2in. - but feel free to increase the size to decrease difficulty or visa versa)

Step 3: Attach Design to Paper

Once you have your pattern or design ready, you will attach it to the 2 sheets of paper that you will be cutting (the cardstock or heavy paper).

1. Cut the cardstock so it's slightly larger than your design.

2. Fold your design in half and then fold both sheets of cardstock in half (if you are using one of my patterns or shapes, you will see a line down the middle to help you with folding).

3. Lay your folded design on top of the folded cardstock.

4. Make sure your folds are lined up at both ends and then staple around the design. You will then flatten the paper back out.

Step 4: Cut Out Design

Once your design is stapled to the paper, you can begin cutting.

Lay the paper on top of a self-healing mat and hold your X-acto knife like you would a pen or pencil. You are basically going to be cutting away the pieces that are not a part of the design. For instance, with the patterns that I designed, I darkened the areas that will stay so you can just cut away the white parts. It is also helpful to begin towards the middle of the design and work your way out. I tend to cut smaller areas first and then work up to the larger parts. This just helps to keep the whole thing stable while cutting.

Overall, this cutting can be a little tricky (especially with cutting through two layers of cardstock). If you find it difficult, you can separate the two layers and do one at a time.

Just remember to keep cutting. If your cut does not go all the way through the paper, DO NOT rip the section out, just continue to go over it until the knife goes all the way through.

The last thing you will do is cut the outside of the design.

Step 5: Gluing

You now should have two separate pieces of paper with the same design.

1. First you will refold the creases you made prior to cutting.

2. Then take a VERY small dab of Elmer's glue and lightly spread it out along the fold of one of the pieces.

3. Line up the two pieces of paper along their folds and squeeze them together so the glue holds them together.

4. Let dry (~ 5 mins.)

Step 6: Make Hole for Hanging

Once the glue is dry, take the needle and push it through the top to make a hole for the string.

You want to make sure that you put it through both layers of paper (not between them where the glue is). And also make sure that it is on the fold - this will ensure that it will have a nice spin.

Step 7: Add String

Thread some string through the hole, tie a knot at the bottom and top and then you're done!

You'll also want to squeeze the middle so all the sections are evenly spaced. Here are some pictures at different angles to show you.

I like to use sewing thread to hang the ornament, but fishing line or beading string works well too. I decided to coordinate the colors with these ornaments so the string and paper were the same color.

Step 8: Random Tid-bits

Papercutting is a delicate art form that has been around for over a 1000 years. It can be done by using very sharp scissors or with a sharp knife. I prefer using a knife because I feel I have more control, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

If this instructable is of any interest to you, you can learn a lot more about paperctting on the web. I also highly recommend checking out the Guild of American Papercutters and if you like what you see - join the guild! Papercutting is somewhat of a lost art form but is making a comeback. The possibilities are endless with what can be created and the more you experiment, the more you can see how enjoyable it is.
If you have ANY questions about this instructable or the art of papercutting, please feel free to contact me. I am extremely passionate about papercutting and truly love sharing its beauty with everyone.

(I've added some images of papercuttings I've done in the past)



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    27 Discussions


    3 years ago

    You have some beautiful work there. I think I might have to try this with my grandkids. Thank you for sharing

    those are amazing. i have done paper cutting before but nothing so delicate and the othe images of things you have done in the past are fabulous


    8 years ago on Step 7

    These look fabulous and I can't wait to try one! I have some great rubber stamps that make symmetrical shapes and a large circle round punch and I am hoping these will work.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Lovely paper cuts.... or papercuts... anyway, i hope you don't get the kind i don't mean. No, really, i do papercutting myself, and i know good work when i see it. These are indeed lovely. thanks for postig this great inst'able.


    12 years ago on Step 8

    Extremely fluent and simple instructable. The only thing that confused me was how the two pieces were going to go together, and that was shown. Your work is beautiful.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I have tried these before with small scissors only to be frustrated. You have made this project and the instructions clear and precise and I am happy to report that I have comfortably completed one.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    What a great project! They are cute and fun and your instructions are nicely detailed. I'm excited to try one.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely beautiful! Looking at the finished product I wouldn't have thought that I could make these, but after reading your clearly written step by step instructions, I'm sure I could handle it. Thank you for sharing!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    These are beautiful. Your instructions are very clear and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    These are spectacular! Beautiful work! I can't wait to try it myself. The instructions are very well written. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Just wanted to say thanks to Maplepapercuts for a great job on the instructions and pictures for these magnificant spinners. They are beautiful. I can't wait to try making some.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    WOW!!! These are really neat. Your instructions and pictures are GREAT!. You have a real talent - keep up the good work.

    Dear Maplepapercuts,

    Your work is simply fabulous and your step-by-step instructions, with great photos, are very helpful in understanding how someone else could create such wonderful crafts. Thanks for sharing!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I love this. This is a great art to pick up. My son loves to make these(he has ADHD) and can concentrate for hours to complete this.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome Chris! Your papercuts are some of the best gifts that I have ever received. It is interesting to see your talent at work.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    This is great! I love them! I always wondered how you made them! Thanks, I look forward to making some.