16 December, 2011

paper snowflake tutorial

Every year one of our favourite Christmas traditions is to make paper snowflakes.  I think this is something we started when we moved back to Australia from New York and missed a winter Christmas.  To begin with we used to make the 8 sided snowflakes where you just fold the paper in half and in half again 2 more times.  But I never liked the look of those, and real snowflakes are always 6 or 12 sided, so I taught myself how to fold them to get more authentic looking snowflakes.  Over the last 7 years, I've got quite good at folding them as I usually have to fold all of them for me and the 4 kids to cut.  I've found it's easier to fold a whole bunch before we have our "snowflake cutting night"- usually while we an open fire to make it easy to dispose of all those paper scraps.  

This year I decided to use up some old scrap booking paper that isn't be used for scrap booking,  I cut the big pages into quarters so that I had 4 squares. [ If you are using plain white printer paper, make a square by folding a triangle at the bottom of the page and cutting off the thin paper strip at the top (this can be used later to make paper chains).]
 Once you have a square, you fold it corner to corner to make a triangle.
 then you bring the two bottom edges together to find the middle of the bottom -just pinch it there, don't fold it all the way up.
 Now that you know where the middle of the bottom, folded, edge is, you will find it easier to work out the next two folds.  This is the hardest bit; you want to fold a 3rd of the triangle at the front, and a third at the back.  This is the front, then I'd turn it over and do the same on the back.
 So it kind of zig zags front and back.  I usually try and line it all up before I press the folds down.
 When you are done, it should look like this- with one triangle fold at the front and one at the back, going in opposite directions, with another triangle in the middle.  (I hope this is making sense, as it is much harder to say in words)

 You then fold that triangle in half again (this becomes harder, the smaller the piece of paper you start with).  It doesn't matter which side you fold (front of back).  When you get to this point, you should have a shape that looks like this.
 You then cut across at the shortest point of the "tail" ends...like so....
 ....and you will end up with a pizza wedge shaped folded triangle.
 Now the fun part begins.  You can cut any shape into you snow flake.  You can cut into both of the long sides, but don't cut all the way across.  You can cut off the pointy tip, and that will make a hole in the middle, but once you go all the way through further up, you will cut your snowflake in half.  I find geometric patterns work best, for kids, triangles are easier.

 The more you do this, the better you will become.  Ella had a total snowflake cutting breakthrough up in VT on the weekend.  Suddenly she started to see what shapes various cuts would make and her snowflakes became really intricate.  Warning: this can be highly addictive.  Make sure you have enough paper!

When they are done, put the snowflakes between pages in a heavy book - like pressing flowers.  We like to sticky tape them to the windows, or thread them on cotton (you can just sew a needle through the paper) and hang them all around.  It sometimes helps to put a button on the end of the thread, or an ornament as it helps them to hang straight.  If you put them over heat vents, or near windows, you get a lovely effect of snow flurries, with the snowflakes dancing around everywhere.  Near windows and lights, you get beautiful snowflake shadows on the walls.  Here are some photos from previous years:

 Perfect if you are dreaming of a white Christmas where ever you are in the world.


  1. I think you should explain the maths....360(why don't computer keyboards have a divide sign?) divided by 6=60. (or degrees for that matter)How to fold so you get a 60 degree fold?
    360 divided by 2 =180, then if folded in half would be 90 etc etc...

  2. Wow!!! I will give it a try and report back! I love the look of them through the window from outside. mumxx

  3. Well I managed to do it, but it doesn't look as lovely as yours. But at least I got an 8 sided snowflake and I kept folding it back up to cut more out to make better patterns. I think I was a bit cautious. How do you get those lovely round ones? I want to try it on silver paper.
    mum xx


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