How to make paper snowflakes
Snowflake crafts aren't just for winter!
A lesson in how to make paper snowflakes may be something you want to do most when winter is upon us. The creation of what is generally known as paper cutwork, however, can be a fun activity for any season.
If you haven't done this before, it's easy to get started. All you need for practice are a few craft supplies : a sheet of paper (an 8 ½ x 11 piece of copy or printer paper works just fine), a pair of scissors and a pencil. And after you've made your first snowflake, you won't need the pencil any more.
Marking your paper will help you fold it so that you get a snowflake rather than a snowstorm of unrelated pieces. Holding your paper just like this page (what your printer calls portrait style), put little letters in the corners: A, B, C and D.
Write A in the upper left-hand corner, B in the upper right-hand corner, C in the lower right-hand corner and D in the lower left-hand corner.
Your snowflake starts with a square of paper. Either use a ruler and draw the lines to make all sides 8 ½ inches long or pull the corner A across the paper to line up with the edges of B and C. Crease the triangle you've made. Your corners will be B (top), A (new bottom right) and D (bottom left). Trim off excess, which will square your paper.
Fold your B-A-D triangle into a smaller triangle. Then do it a second time. You should now have a triangle with one fold on one side and three folds stacked together on the other. If you decide to turn pro, you'll be folding even one more time and digging out your sharpest and pointiest scissors. B is the corner where all the folds come together.
Since a snowflake is an exercise in symmetry, every cut you make will be multiplied by two. If you cut a half moon on an edge and unfold it, you will see a whole circle. Cutting a little triangle on the edge will unfold as a bigger triangle. Mentally divide a heart shape in half. Cut it and unfold a whole heart. You can try out your ideas on a piece of paper just folded in half to see what happens to shapes you want to try.
Back to your triangle. Cut some small shapes on both the sides that have folds. Cut a shape on point B just enough to knock off the point. This is the center of your paper when you unfold it.
For your first snowflake you can just leave all the unfolded edges plain. Next time around you can create a wavy or zigzag edge with your regular scissors or use the fancy scissors you use for scrapbooking. If you're tempted by fancy scissors, you can find them in a craft catalog or craft store.
You can also consider supplementing your hand cutting with some of the great paper punches you're also likely to find. Especially while you're leafing through craft catalogs, look at the pages featuring special papers. What you want is paper with a smooth finish that is able to hold a sharp crease. The paper should be between 20- and 28-pound weight.
Look at translucent vellums, prints, mylars and bright colors as well as white papers. As you progress, you'll want some different materials to work with.
The next thing you should do is teach a small child how to make snowflakes. Copy paper works fine, as construction paper or heavyweight drawing paper is more strenuous to cut. If your child is old enough to understand how you're squaring the paper, teach that too.
Give him or her a single-folded practice sheet or help draw shapes on the folds. Remember that cutting skills, following the line, and drawing shapes all promote the small-muscle strength eventually needed to write properly. And no matter how much you've demonstrated, taught and explained, be sure to catch the eye of your young snowflake maker when he or she unfolds a snowflake. It can seem to be pure magic.
Try Other Paper
Try making paper snowflakes as patterns for other media. Cut a snowflake out of waxed or parchment paper, lay it very lightly on cake frosting or a round pan of gingerbread and dust heavily with powdered sugar. Snowflakes cut out of heavier paper can be tacked to furniture you are painting and rolled right over. They don't always have to be full-page size. Use a snowflake as a pattern to cut white felt that you can blanket stitch onto a Christmas red throw pillow.
Cut snowflakes for other seasons. Use half-sized paper again for: Valentine hearts, Easter eggs and bunny heads, summer sun, beach umbrellas and flowers and fall leaves.