cut paper

Cutting Curves by Cutting Straight

One of my favorite lesson with kids is talking to them about how to cut curvy lines.

One of the main reasons I teach this is so that first graders can cut a tracing of their hands to put into books that we make. Ever notice how much a child’s hand grows between first grade and second grade? This offers a student a record of this growth.

Not having a child handy at the moment, I’m making these random shapes.

The secret to cutting beautiful, sinuous curves is to cut in a straight line, moving the paper, not the scissors.

In the video demonstration below, I liken this to driving a car or riding a bicycle: all those curves and turns, but you stay looking straight ahead, turning the wheel, not your body.

This is a short post, to get myself back to posting, which I have missed. Hard to believe, that, now, during pandemic isolation, I am busier than ever, but I am! Still, I don’t want to stray too long from this space, which I love.

Short and sweet video below

cut paper · geometry and paper

It’s Paper Snowflake time again

paper snowflakes

I was debating whether or not to post my snowflake-making pages again. Then today I was over at Heather Bellanca’s book signing event at McCartee’s Barn and …

Celebrating the publication of A Hound’s Holiday, illustrated by my friend Heather Bellanca

…people were cutting all sorts of cool and creative snowflakes. One thing I was hearing, though, was people wanting to make their snowflakes have specific characteristics. Heather pulled up my old Snowflake Cutting  Tips page on her device, which answered some questions. That clinched it for me. Yup, I’d republish this page.

6 snowflake cuts
How to cut snowflake once you’ve folded the paper

I’m happy to post this page again. This snowflake-cutting-tips page has never gotten many views, but I love this because I like understanding how to be deliberate about making my cuts. Sure, the first few flakes of the year, made with random cuts, are thrilling, but then, unless you have some handle on what’s going on, the snowflakes all begin to look the same, so it’s good to have an idea of how to deviate in any way that you want.

how to make a paper snowflake
how to fold paper to make a hexagonal snowflake

Of course you can’t cut a snowflake unless you fold the paper first. My number one contribution to snowflake-making is to encourage people to use paper napkins for their snowflakes, as paper napkins cut easily, are already the right shape (a big square) and are generally plentiful. Oh, and one last tip, Scotch Magic Tape is works the best for sticking these winter creations to the window because the tape peels off of the window most easily when it’s time for the snow to go away.

Happy cutting!

How to make a Snowflake with Six-Sided Symmetry, with 60 degree triangle guide included.