9 July 2016

Papering over the crafts

2016 has unearthed my inner Elf, complete with crochet headbands and calligraphy gift tags. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming; as a 5ft 3" Christmas devotee, I have all the credentials. 

Crafting is one of the best therapies I know. In particularly anxious moments, I can lose myself in the creative bubble of a project and keep negative thoughts at bay. Wool was my saviour during inpatient treatment; learning a new skill helped rebuild my confidence and was a much-needed distraction  after meals.

To this day, crafts are a constant in my life; however, yarn has now taken a bit of a backseat, with a new hobby arriving to paper over particularly pesky thoughts... paper cutting! I will start by saying it's not the tidiest of crafts... if you don't enjoy the idea of battling with a blunt craft knife and getting your finger stuck to a crochet hook (true story), this may not be the adventure for you. 

Nevertheless, the fulfilment of seeing the end product never fades. This will likely be the first of many posts on the subject! So I thought I would begin with a general tour around the wonderful house of card...


My go-to for designs is Pinterest. Samantha Sherring is my first post of call, particularly for her tea templates! Yet you don't have to search specifically for "paper cutting" ; in fact, I rarely do this! My most common search is 'silhouettes'.  From Dobby and Disney, to Diawolves and Dogs, the pattern world is your oyster. I love drawing from various designs to create my own; for example, I combined the image of a doe with the deathly hallows symbol:
My latest source of inspiration comes from adult colour books. At the risk of being a controversial "wellbeing advocate", I'm not an actual fan of colouring. I did give it a try, but lack of patience and working pencil sharpener ended my Picasso dream. Nevertheless, while tidying my room last week I had an idea - templates! I particularly like using "enchanted forest" and need to have a look through my Harry Potter book next.
The final resource? You. Wonderful, creative you! As I said earlier, I love adapting patterns to make them unique. Recently, I have been making cards for various people and taking inspiration from their life. For my Uncle's 50th Birthday, I designed it around his upcoming holiday to America, ft. NY, DC and Harry Potter World. Another card was made for a friend who loves Baking and peanut butter. Here is where my imagination took me... 


Below are the following pieces of equipment to lead you down the paper path. Not all of these are essential! For basic paper cutting, the necessities are: craft knife, ruler, card pencil and paper board; the latter is unpictured, as I'll admit it's a bit of an eyesore, but really important! Unless you want to start table carving...

The other items are optional, but ones I am using more often. After hunting the house for various tea cups/pots with which to draw circles, I channelled my inner schoolgirl and popped to Smiths for a compass. I also like using decoupage paper to give different effects. HobbyCraft and Craft & More in Bristol are brilliant for this, but you can get a good variety in WH Smiths. 

Now we come onto the sticky subject of... sticking. If you want to try layering, with multiple pieces of card, then you'll need to decide on an adhesive. There are several options, but I would advise against glue. It gets messy very quickly and dries very slowly. Double-sided tape and glue dots are good, but trying to cut them down is infuriating! The best piece of equipment I've found is a "stick it" roll. The best £3 I spent last month; stick with the "stick it".


In the world of paper crafts, patience is not only a virtue - it's vital for your survival, or you'll end up screaming louder than a Wimbledon tennis player (I'm talking both genders here!) There are a couple of corners that tempting to cut, but are really quite important... unless you want to risk literally cutting off corners you didn't mean to.

1. Sketch out your rough design: I've tried doing freehand cutting - as recently as yesterday - and it is like trying to thread a needle with your eyes closed. After two hours of attempting to carve a free-hand Winnie the Pooh, both calm and card deserted me. I accepted defeat and went to find a pencil. Twenty minutes later, Pooh was hanging from a balloon in a hundred acre wood.

When you draw the design, it's also a good idea to shade in the sections that will be cut out. Nothing is more frustrating than being 90% into a design, only to cut out the wrong section. Again, I learnt the hard way. I ended up with a headless Hedwig. Secondly, use the lightest pencil possible and make sure you have a rubber. This is especially true if you're using cream card, unless you like the grey smudge effect. The teapot below left, inspired by Samantha's Papercuts, took forever to draw out - proportions are hard! But it was worth it in the end.
3. Choose your card colour carefully: from the start, decide if you want to do a basic paper cut or a layering. These days, most of my paper projects use multiple layers and colours, which involves  deciding on a focal point for your design. If you want certain elements to pop, use contrast; I like using cream for a base and putting black against it.

Through trial and error, I've found that lighter colours are more likely to stand out than dark. Unless you live in a white box - in which case #bloggergoals - an all-black design is much harder to distinguish from a distance. If you do want to use black, you can help it stand out by popping a sheet of light card behind. Otherwise, start with a light colour and build on it.
If you want to try a new hobby, I would definitely encourage you to give paper crafting a go! Not only will you never have to buy a card again, but it's an excuse for a new Pinterest board. How can you argue with that?

Have you ever tried Paper Crafts?


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