Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Comfy Christmas: Paper Fun

Soooo… those paper stars.  How gorgeous are they?!  I've been having much fun with paper in the lead up to Christmas 2016.  It's such a lovely material to work with - it provides all manner of opportunities for fun, it's really cheap and it's readily available.  I thought you might like to see a couple of adventures that I've been getting up to paper-wise.

I promised in my previous post that I'd tell you all about the origami paper stars that are now hanging on my beautiful branch in front of our dining room stove.

The stars look quite intricate and complicated but actually they're really simple to make.  And they're addictive - once you've mastered one your house will be covered in 'em.  Each star probably takes around 5 minutes to make so really, you can make a whole galaxy of them in little time at all.

I came across the tutorial for the origami stars from a post on Facebook.  I've included the link here (origami star) but please don't click on it yet!  Stay with me for just a little while…

Two pieces of advice for you: firstly, the tutorial for the stars is done in video format and also illustrated with photos.  I would strongly advise watching the videos and pausing them as and when you need to; the photos are great but the videos are clear and are much more user friendly.  Secondly, I would be tempted to use paper rather than card when you first start out; paper is more forgiving and card can be difficult to manipulate when you're still learning.

To make the stars you firstly need a square of paper; that is a square with completely equal sides.  Most sheets of paper come in rectangles (A4, etc), and I thought it might be useful to explain to you how you make a rectangle into a perfect square (some of you will remember this from school but for those who don't…)

Take your rectangle of paper and lay it down with the long sides along the top and bottom. 

Take the bottom left hand corner and bring it up to meet the top side of the sheet; you'll notice that in doing so you've created a triangle.  Make sure that the two top edges of the paper meet exactly.  Fold a crease along the diagonal edge of the paper.  It should now look like this:

Taking a pair of scissors, cut away the rectangle shape of paper to the right of the triangle.  This can now be discarded.

Open up your triangle and you should have one perfect square.  I thank you…

Now you can go and look at the tutorial.  But don't start making your stars yet! Come back straight away, we still have lots to talk about!

You back now?  OK, let's keep going.  I started by making lots of white paper stars which (when I find the time!) I'm going to hang from the fireplace in our living room.  The fireplace has a dark marble surround so the white stars will look great against it.

I then raided my stash of homes magazines and found some pages with fantastic, colourful festive photos and images on them.  I carefully tore them out of the magazine and, using the method above, made my pages into perfect squares.  The pages have turned into beautiful stars, with subtle colouring and with pops of festive images showing through on occasion. 

They look really lovely hung from my branch in the dining room using silver thread.  I really, really love them - in fact I think they may be my favourite decorations this year.  So simple but SO effective.  Do give them a try - the sense of achievement when the star suddenly takes shape is just wonderful.  Origami rocks!

Last Saturday, I used a voucher the Husband had bought me for my birthday to attend a brilliant paper cutting course at the Ministry of Craft in Manchester (thanks, Husband!).  The three-hour course gave an introduction into the art of paper cutting and it was the most productive and fun morning I've had in a long time.  Paper cutting: sounds easy, right?  Think again - it is incredibly delicate, intricate and challenging and takes patience and a steady hand.  BUT when you get it right, oh my goodness… the results are just fantastic.  We were encouraged to come up with our own design (although templates were available too); I was inspired by a scrap of material I found in the workshop room and came up with this retro-inspired tree and leaf design, what do you think?

I decided, as per usual, to use a number of colours in the design, including my favourite, orange.  And in hindsight and despite it being a complete fluke, I'm relieved I chose a design that looks fairly complicated but in actual fact was really quite easy to cut out.

I had enough time left to use the off cuts from my paper cut to decorate a greetings card, by stacking the shapes on top of each other.

And I also had time to use one of the templates to make a hanging for the Girl and the Boy's bedrooms, including their initials in the corner of each.

Of course the Girl decided once she'd seen hers that she preferred the Boy's background colour… you can't win, can you?!  The materials you need for paper cutting are very basic and cost very little - a craft knife and replacement blades come in at less than a fiver, and the A4 sized cutting mat was £3.50.  All you need then is some paper or card and you're away.  You don't even need to be artistic - there are loads of free templates to download online, and you can buy templates very cheaply on Etsy and similar sites too.  Thanks Ministry of Craft, and Caroline for leading the course - you was fab!

Still on paper cutting… an amazing lady who lives locally has produced for me the most beautiful paper cut family tree, which annoying I can't show you in full (because it has all our names on and that would be telling, wouldn't it?).  So instead I've included a taster here, and a link to her website.

A taster of an amazing paper cut from Clare Waterfall Pictures.
She's amazing.  And very lovely.

I can't recommend Clare enough - she's talented and lovely, a great combination.  And she's darn reasonable cost-wise too!

I haven't wrapped any presents yet but when I do, I've decided to wrap some of them in brown paper which I'm in the process of customising myself using white paint and some cookie cutters.  I found these Christmas-themed cutters in a charity shop last week for 49p:

I've been dipping them in white paint and using them randomly on the brown paper to create outlines.  Originally I was going to use all the shapes but I think I'm going to stick to the Christmas tree because it's a really good solid, recognisable shape.

I'm also considering trying some good ol' fashioned potato printing but I think I may be in danger of biting off more than I can chew...!

I hope I've inspired you to get out some paper and have some fun.

Bye for now xxx

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