paper snowflakes

No Two Are Alike

I spent a good part of the last couple of weeks making many different kinds of snowflakes. I found and utilized a few other resources for kirigami patterns.

books about kirigami Kirigami fold and cut-a-day calendar

I’m just learning that there are a few different standard folds (square, spider, snowflake, etc.) that you can learn. And some instructions in the books/kits are much more complicated than others. This one sent me back to 8th grade geometry class.

Some of the cutting patterns were well laid out in the books or kits, already drawn on the paper or pattern, but in others you had to “trace,” or copy, the design onto the paper before cutting, which certainly challenged my nearly non-existing drafting skills (note to self: put “drawing” on list of creative skills to work on).

After I while I began to feel a bit tired of snowflakes, despite the fact that truly, no two were alike, and many were very pleasing to the eye. And I was letting myself enjoy the colored paper (basically the same as origami paper).

paper snowflakes

I decided that it was time to head into the realm of the 3-dimensional patterns I’d seen on some of the websites and book covers. However, when I looked at many of the photos of finished products in my books, I was really intimidated! Wondering if I would need a degree in architecture or engineering to complete some of these complicated works of art, I searched around until I found a few that I could wrap my head around by just looking at them.

I started with this net pattern, which was basically like drawing a maze on the paper before cutting. It turned out to look pretty neat, though I wished the paper was colored on both sides so that it would look just as cool from underneath as it did from above.

The next one I tried was perfect for the season – a Christmas tree ornament – and was not too difficult for me to draw before cutting. I like how when you assemble this one (re-fold it, basically), you mostly just see green.








The last one I tried was supposed to combine two of the net patterns I’d done to create a ball or globe. I must not have cut it right, or perhaps the problem came in the separated of the thin strips (not easy to do without tearing!), but it turned to look more oval than round.

I tried again, this time making sure not to pull on the shape too much to avoid elongating it, which made it somewhat rounder.

Overall, I was pleased with my very first attempts at 3-D kirigami, although some were clearly better than others.

Next week I’ll try some of the harder patterns I’ve been avoiding from the books — that require sharper scissors (which I did buy), and even exacto knives, rulers and the like … we’ll see what I can do!


Let It Snow!

Most of you are probably familiar with the art of origami, which is Japanese for paper folding (kami or gami means paper; oru is the verb “to fold”). You may not have heard of kirigami, which is the art of paper cutting (kiru is the verb “to cut”).

When I taught preschool years ago, and when my own kids were little, I used to love to make paper snowflakes with them, like these:

paper snowflakes

My kids always seemed to enjoy doing it, and we liked taping them up on the front window for decoration. I got pretty good at remembering how to fold the paper correctly so it would usually “work,” no matter how you cut them. Then we would experiment with different kinds of cuts – rounded or straight-edged, bold or intricate. But I never made anything too elaborate.

My fascination with collage (see my blogs starting with A Bird by Any Other Name and ending with Juxtaposition of Elements) has made me yearn to improve my cutting skills. I tend to be pretty sloppy about cutting when I’m making collages, covering a multitude of sins by gluing on more things, and/or slathering on a bunch of paint. I’d like to learn more patience and precision. With that in mind, as well as the advent of the holiday season, I’ve decided to take on kirigami.

I ordered this book on

Designed with animal patterns as the basis for a multitude of snowflakes, the book allows you to print out from the website or photocopy the designs, then follow the instructions for folding and cutting. Fortunately for me, it begins with the simplest designs, and gradually gets more intricate. While I’m not entirely sure how many I’ll get through, I started out at the beginning to see how difficult it would be.

There is still some folding involved in a lot of kirigami.

The folding instructions in the book took me a while to understand, but once I got it, every other one I did was easy.

The easiest was the starfish pattern, followed by the duck.

You fold on the dotted lines following the book’s instructions, then cut on the bold lines. The cutting was a different story; at first I thought I’d completely done it wrong, but it came out just like the picture.

paper snowflakes

Left to right: starfish, duck, penguin, platypus

Once I’d completed a couple more, I realized that my biggest problem was that I don’t have a really good, sharp pair of smallish scissors. The edges I was cutting weren’t always clean. And sharper scissors will be essential to creating the more intricate designs in the book.

The book also recommends using a paper hole punch when making some of the designs. I have one, but it seems to punch a bigger hole than might be required. So I plan to make a trip to my local Michael’s craft store to look for better scissors and maybe a smaller hole punch also. Hopefully that will make creating the coming designs easier. I have ordered another couple of books and kits online in case I get tired of making snowflakes! Some of the kirigami projects I’ll be attempting are 3-dimensional designs in paper, which I look forward to trying.

I do enjoy learning this activity, and so far it’s not too hard, though when I look ahead in the book I wonder how far I will get. Better tools will definitely help. Find some fun crafts to do this season!