If it’s paper…


If it’s paper… You can make a papercutting with it!

Pretty simple, huh?

If you thought the tools for the art of paper cutting were pretty basic,
the necessary materials are even easier to find!

You can probably find it right in your desk drawer!


Any kind will work.

Two things to keep in mind:
1. Thickness
2. Purpose

Thickness of the paper you use matters… especially if you do multiple-folded papercuttings, like snowflakes perhaps, because as you fold the paper two, three, or more times, it is harder to cut through it neatly with scissors. Generally, the more folds you want to cut through, the thinner the paper you need.

Thickness goes hand-in-hand with Purpose… Snowflakes that will be pasted onto your window can be made from thinner paper than papercut ornaments that you will hang on your Christmas tree, which would need to be pretty sturdy to keep their shape. If your purpose is to paint on the papercutting or to add calligraphy, you need to choose a paper that will accept those mediums.

So I thought I’d give a list of paper resources below!

Paper Resources:

Copy Paper
24 lb. is a good standby paper…
There are lots of nice business papers available too!

Silhouette Paper
Black on one side, white on the other so you can draw or trace a design.

Graphite Transfer Paper
For tracing designs on Silhouette Paper

Origami Paper
For those who want thin, sturdy paper that will fold and cut easily

Scrapbooking Paper
The design possibilities are endless…
…Available at any good craft or hobby store!

Canson Mi-Tientes Paper
Nice and thick… Will accept watercolors, acrylics, and ink.

Parchment Paper
The best surface for calligraphy!

Chain-Laid Paper
Great Texture for historic papercuttings.
Will also accept paint and ink…
Stains well and looks like an antique piece.

Watercolor Paper
Accepts paint well… Smooth textures also accept ink well.
Get the lightest weight possible.
Watercolor paper does NOT fold well… it cracks!

Handmade Paper
Fun for collage work… Test it out if using paint or ink…
… Often doesn’t have “sizing” and watery medium will bleed.

Construction Paper
Great for kids who want to try out papercutting!

Coffee Filters
Perfect for folding into snowflakes!

But seriously…
…Before you go and buy lots of paper,

just pull some out of your drawer at home andĀ 
try your hand at snipping paper!

Tools of the Trade

Paper cuttings can be created with very simple tools…

The basic tools are scissors, knives, and pins.

Here are my favorites…


My fallback tools a vintage pair of Gingher scissors,
a rubber-coated Gordon craft knife with #11 X-Acto blades,
and an old-fashioned dressmaking pin.

Though sometimes I resort to a fancier hole-making method…


This cool hole punch makes the teensiest holes…
…and they are uniform with no frayed edges!

Scissors are really a matter of preference…


I have quite a collection!
(This just scratches the surface.)
I like to have a variety for people to try
out when teaching papercutting classes.
(Sounds like a good excuse for owning 100 pairs of scissors, huh?)

If you’re looking for a pair of scissors, check out surgical scissors,
nail scissors, embroidery scissors, and craft scissors.
Find a pair that feels good in your hands and that fit your fingers well.

There are several types of craft knives too…


The metal ones are super inexpensive, but a little uncomfortable
if you do lots of knife cutting. I use the knife a LOT,
so the rubber coated handle is a must-have for me.

A cutting mat is also helpful to cushion your table from knife scratches.
Any brand, any size… Just large enough for your finished piece to lay on.


I honestly think papercutting is one of the easiest crafts to gear up for.
You can usually begin with the scissors you have on hand,
and slowly search for the tools that work best for you.
For fun, you can peruse the cutting section of your local craft store…
punches, scissors, craft knives…
Lots of varieties to try out, and usually not too expensive!


A little bit of paper cutting history…

Scherenschnitte, the Pennsylvania German form of papercutting, made its way to America in the late 1600’s. William Penn was an English Quaker that was offered a tract of land in the American colonies as payment for a debt that King Charles owed to Penn’s late father. This land was called “Penn’s Forest,” or Pennsylvania. You might have heard of it! šŸ˜€

William Penn had two goals for his colony… The first was to be a safe harbor for those facing religious persecution in Europe. He himself had been jailed several times for his Quaker beliefs. Because of that, Penn offered land to the Amish, Mennonites, Lutherans, and many other Protestant groups. Penn’s second goal was that his colony would be successful, and for that to happen, he would also need skilled laborers, so he invited blacksmiths, papermakers, carpenters, and other tradesmen to come to Pennsylvania. These people not only brought their devout religious beliefs and their trades and skills, but also their customs and folk arts. One of these folk arts was Scherenschnitte.

Paper cuttings were used as decoration… The Pennsylvania German people lined their shelves with pretty paper cut edges, brightened their walls with paper cuts, and they used paper cut stencils to decorate cakes. They cut beautiful Valentines and marriage proposals. Paper cutting was combined with fraktur, a form of German penmanship, to create house blessings, wedding certificates, birth & baptismal records, and rewards of merit for good students. Because of their love for color, they often added color to their paper cuts.



Paper Cutting 101

I realized after I linked up the button for the Write 31 Days project
that “31 Days of Paper Cuts” just might be taken the wrong way.


We’re going to be talking about the ART of paper cutting…
…not those miserable little cuts that come from a piece of paper!


This month, we’re going to be exploring a traditional craft called “Scherenschnitte.” That big word is pronounced “Sharon-shnit” and it literally means “scissor snipping.” It’s a Pennsylvania German folk craft that has its roots in Europe… Mostly Switzerland and Germany. Paper cutting actually has roots in many countries around the world, countries like Israel… China… Poland and Mexico. There are quite a variety of styles and methods, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to take a look at some of them!


So… Going to keep today’s post short, because this post is mostly a launching point for the series. All the 31 Days of Paper Cuts links and buttons will lead you here so you can easily find the post you’re looking for! I hope you enjoy the blog this month!

31 Days of Paper Cuts Intro

Paper Cutting 101 & Index of Posts

A Little Bit of Paper Cutting History

Tools of the Trade

Starting over… 31 Days of Paper Cuts

Did you ever have one of those projects that
you just folded up and stuck in a drawer?

I have a few.

There’s an afghan that my grandmother beganĀ and I was determined to finish. And those super cute 1980’s-style cross-stitched Christmas stockingsĀ for each member of the family.Ā (They have their own families now.) There are numerous scrapbook albums. and there’s last year’s 31 Days of Reading Aloud project.Ā There are probably quite a few more, but I’m just going to leave it at that.

I’m pretty much all about making a Fresh Start.

So here it is… Starting today…

31 Days of Paper Cuts!


Stop by this month for an occasional look into my studio, a bit of history on the art of paper cutting and the various styles, tips about tools and techniques, new stuff in the shop, and some freebie patterns so you can try your hand at paper cutting! Starting tomorrow, if you click on the 31 Days of Paper Cuts button, it will take you to a list of all the posts!