Today’s paper crafts are more than just folding and cutting. It seems like every day brings a new tool and technique. And the results are spectacular. People love working with paper because it can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Even better, it doesn’t cost a lot to get started. Want to go beyond origami? Or go deeper into origami? Then have a look at some of these fascinating techniques and processes. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new passion.

Paper Art and Paper Crafts: An Introduction

Ever since the advent of paper, in 105 A.D., there have been paper crafts. While many used this new medium for communication — and still do — others have thought how to put it to creative use. As long as there has been paper, there has been paper art. Moreover, paper art and paper crafts will, for many reasons, remain with us as long as we continue to produce the medium.

Origami and Paper Folding

People today use the word origami to refer to a lot of different paper crafts. But origami is specifically the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, without cuts or adhesives. Kirigamiby contrast, does incorporate cutting. One feature that many people find attractive is the astounding number of ways that a small set of folds can be combined to create fantastic shapes.

Paper crafts: an elaborate orange and white Origami swan

Image Public Domain, by Metin Islam, via Public Domain Pictures

Your tools

You don’t need much to get started in origami. You can find special origami paper in most craft stores. It comes in different sizes, colors, weights, materials, and patterns. There are actually quite a few different types. These include kami, tant, kraft, washi, chiyogami, and yuzen. These are all used for different purposes. You can learn more about the many kinds of origami paper here.

The truth is, though, that when you practice, you can actually use any medium-weight paper, including notebook paper and copier paper.

Would you like to get started? Check out this very complete beginner’s guide from Origami.me.

Paper Cutting

Paper crafts: a pair of scissors next to a paper cut snowflake

Image CC0, by EME, via Pixabay

You might have made paper-cut snowflakes when you were a child. This is one form of paper cutting. However, many cultures, including China and Mexico, have made paper cutting into an elaborate art form. In addition, modern paper cutting is an art form in its own right. One reason this form is so attractive is because of the variety. Different kinds of paper will give you different effects. Plus, they each have their own tools and techniques. Want to give it a try? Here’s what you’ll need.

Your tools

The four basic tools you will need are your paper, something to cut with, something to mark with, and something to measure with. The latter three will depend a lot on the kind of paper you choose for your medium. Sturdier paper, like newsprint or cardstock, needs sturdier tools. On the other hand, if you’re working with tissue paper, like Mexican paper cutting artists do, you will need tools that are a lot more delicate.

Paper Crafts: paper cutting tools include a tape measure, a pencil, and an X-acto knife

Image CC0 by tookapic, via Pixabay

Measuring

A cutting mat is a useful thing to have for many different crafts. This is a plastic, blade-resistant mat marked with a measuring grid in either inches or centimeters. Quilters use cutting mats to measure and cut their pieces, and paper crafters do as well. A cutting mat not only allows you to measure but also protects both your blade and your cutting table.

Another indispensable tool is a handy ruler. A ruler is helpful for both cutting and marking. Many crafters prefer a metal ruler, because sharp crafting blades can slice into wood and plastic. As a result, this can damage both the blade and the ruler.

Marking

Some people like to cut freehand, and you might, too. However, if you want to plan your design first, a pencil is a must-have. Using a pen, you’ll run the risk of damaging the paper. Even if you don’t, though, you can’t erase stray pen marks.

Cutting

Scalpels for use in Paper Crafts

Image CC0 by Spazchicken, via Pixabay

For some kinds of paper cutting, like making snowflakes with the kids, scissors will do. However, for fine work, you’ll need a scalpel. Like a surgeon uses? Exactly! A scalpel will give you fine, pencil-like control. As a result, elaborate designs will be a lot easier to cut out.

Paper, tracing paper, and backing material

The most important element of your paper cutting project is the paper itself. And which paper you choose depends on the effect you want to create. Do you want something ephemeral and delicate? Then crepe paper or tissue paper may be your medium. Do you want something inexpensive and easy to work with? Then newsprint or plain copier paper might work for you. If you’re thinking about working in three dimensions, cardstock and heavy watercolor paper can make your 3-D design pop.

A selection of different colored paper for paper crafts

Image CC SA 3.0, by MichaelMags, via Wikimedia Commons

You might consider drawing your design on tracing paper, then transferring it to the back of your medium, instead of drawing straight onto your medium. This will give you additional control over the design, because you can get it just right without harming your paper. For this, you’ll need tracing paper. Learn more about this technique here.

If you’re planning to frame your finished project, you will need backing. A patterned backing showing through the paper or peeking through cuts can add a new dimension to the project. Conversely, you can also show off the cutting itself by using a plain backing.

Scrapbooking Paper Crafts

Scrapbooking has become very popular recently. And it’s more than just tossing some photos and old ticket stubs into an album. As a result, an entire industry has grown up to provide the tools and technologies to turn memories into astounding works of art. Scrapbooking techniques include cutting, sticking, coloring, stamping, decoupage, embossing, and more. Your scrapbooking techniques may include memorabilia, photos, cutouts, stencils — the only limit is your imagination.

Your tools

As with all paper crafts, the tools you’ll need, of course, will depend on the materials you’re working with and how you want your project to look in the end. Here are some basics.

Paper

Scrapbooking paper is the base upon which you will build your scrapbook pages. In addition, you might use stiff cardstock for parts of your design. You might also incorporate colored or patterned paper. Some techniques you might use for manipulating your paper include folding, quilling, cutting, stamping, coloring, and others. You can learn more about the different types of paper used in scrapbooking here.

Paper crafts: an example of scrapbooking, using photos, stamps, paper cutting, and found media

Image Public Domain, by Karen Arnold, via Public Domain Pictures

Paper crafting tools

Every technique has its own tool, it seems. Here are some of the more popular ones. Ink stamps allow you to add images and stamped words to your pages. Embossing tools can help you create raised or indented designs in your paper. Special die cutters cut uniform shapes out of plastic, fabric, paper, and other materials, for use in your design.

In addition to these, you can incorporate glues and adhesives, as well as different embellishments, like stickers and found objects, to complete your unique design.

Want to learn more?

Check out Everything About Scrapbooking. Their collection of beginners articles will give you all the information you need to get started on one of the most exciting paper crafts today.

Beyond Greeting Cards: Artist Trading Cards

A lot of people enjoy making elaborate cards for different occasions. Likewise, plenty of people like to make cards for no occasion at all. But there’s more to card-making than greeting cards. Artist Trading Cards are a popular paper crafts form that brings together people from all over the world.

What are artist trading cards? In essence, they are miniature works of paper art, condensed to the size of a playing card. They can be simple or elaborate. Some artists work in two dimensions, using color, patterns, and words to tell their story. Others incorporate embellishments, moving parts, and three-dimensional folding and cutouts.

What’s unique about artist trading cards (or ATCs as people call them) is that the art form itself is about community. Groups of artists make cards to swap with each other. Often these cards are in response to a challenge or theme. Groups may meet in person, or members may make exchanges online or through the mail. In addition, there are contests, conventions, and meetups. In essence, it’s all about creativity — and community.

You can find out more about this exciting hobby at ATCs for All.

The Exciting World of Paper Crafts

Paper crafts are hot right now, and it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to get started. In addition, many crafts are inexpensive and don’t require a lot of elaborate tools. Likewise, on top of that, you can make your designs as simple or as complex as you wish. Moreover, there are always new tools, materials, and techniques bursting onto the scene. With a wide choice of traditional and modern paper crafts, there’s always something new to learn and discover.

 

 

Featured Image: CC0 by rawpixels, via Pexels

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