Monday, December 12, 2011

Paper Snowflakes

I love making paper snowflakes.  Any of my former students and roommates can attest to it.   When I student taught 7th graders, we had homeroom each morning, which every once in a while had something that actually needed to be done, but most of the time it was just a free little chunk of minutes to help students feel connected to a teacher in the school and a group of students they could fit in with.  It also meant random games and little activities.  That's where I worked hard at the skill of paper snowflake making.

Every year now, my husband and I put on a few Christmas movies and work at folding and cutting so that we can decorate with a new batch of wintery goodness.  There's just something about not knowing exactly what it's going to look like until you unfold it that makes cutting out snowflakes  really exciting to me in an admittedly totally craft-geeky way.

I often hear comments from people about how cool my snowflakes look and how they wonder why mine looks so cool.  So I thought that I'd take the time to make up a little tutorial on how to fold six-pointed and five-pointed snowflakes along with some tips that I use to make them look the way they do.  Maybe some of you have some awesome tips you'd like to share, too.  If you already know how to fold your paper into five or six points, you can skip those parts.  

I've also included separate sections on tips that will make some nice-looking snowflakes.  The tips can be mixed together in any number of combinations and can be used with five- or six-pointed snowflakes.  

Five-Pointed Snowflake

First, always start with a square piece of paper.  (Mine are 8.5 x 8.5 in)

For the five-pointed snowflake, you need to fold your square paper from corner to corner so that it forms a triangle that looks like this:

For the next could of folds, you won't actually the fold the paper all the way through.  You want to simply make a mini-crease so that you'll be able to figure out more accurately where to make the next fold.  (You can also measure and use a pencil to mark the points, but I think it's faster to just make a small crease.)

Along the bottom fold you just created, make a mini-crease at the halfway point so that you have a way to mark the middle of that fold.

Next, open your paper back to the triangle with the fold at the bottom.  Then make a mini-crease to mark the halfway point between the far-right point and the top point of your triangle.  (Sorry, I turned my paper in the picture below, so now the "top" corner is actually on the right because it was easier to hold for the picture.)

Fold open your paper back to the triangle with the fold on the bottom.  Then make a mini-crease to mark the halfway point between the second mini-crease you just made (marked with a circled "two" in the picture below) and the top point of the triangle.

Unfold again to the triangle you first made with the fold on the bottom.  Take the far-right point and fold it (not a mini-crease!) so that your fold starts at the first mini-crease you made (marked in the picture below with a circled "one") and lines up over the third mini-crease you just made (marked with a circled "three).  The fold will be longer than the bottom part of the paper.  Hopefully this picture will make more sense:

Take the far-left corner and fold it over so that the bottom edge lines up with the fold you just made from the picture above.

Then fold your entire origami-ed craziness in half one more time to make an even skinnier "triangle."  It should look something like this when you're done:

Six-Pointed Snowflakes

Just like with the other folding technique, you need to start with a square piece of paper.  Then fold in half to form a long rectangle.

Then make a mini-crease to make the halfway point of the bottom fold you just made.

Take the bottom left corner and fold it, using the bottom mini-crease you just made as the starting point of your fold so that you make the folded-over section the same angle as the leftover piece on the right.  In the picture below, my angles labeled "here" and "here" are the same size:

Next, fold the right tab under so that it lines up under the top one you just made.  (For mine, the right-hand "here" got completely folded under.  Sorry the picture is a little blurry.  I guess I don't know what I was focusing on.)

Then fold your piece in half again so that it's an even skinnier "triangle."  Your final piece should look something like this (hopefully minus the writing and arrows):

Tips for Snowflake Making

These first tips i used the five-pointed snowflake to demonstrate.  You can use these tips on the six-pointed snowflake, too, though.  They look good using either technique.

Most importantly, you always want to make sure that you cut off the extra sticking-out pieces, because those will make your snowflake look strangely not uniform in an awkward kind of way.  Trust me--my husband doubted me once and tried it.  Not pretty.  Make sure that you've cut off enough excess that every layer of your paper goes up to the top edge.

Tip #1: Cutting triangles, large or small, along long edges gives a cool look.  I'd recommend spacing them out evenly.  It can also look pretty to make some of the lines run parallel (like I did below with the two lines in the middle).

Tip #2: Cut long tines that are evenly spaced apart.  Don't be afraid of making big cuts into your snowflake that go from one edge close to the other other.  Generally, the less white space you have left, the better your snowflake will probably look.  I'd recommend evenly spacing apart your cuts to make them look more planned and purposeful.

Tip #3: Cut from the opposite side so that it's parallel to to the lines you've already cut.

Using the tips that I just shared, your snowflake using these tips just as I shared them would look like this:

These next set of tips are demonstrated using the six-pointed snowflake I showed you how to fold earlier.  These tips can also be used with the five-pointed snowflake technique.

Tip #4: Cutting different angles for the top edge makes for an interesting look.

Tip #5:  Just like tip #1, try cutting smaller triangles of the same size evenly spaced apart.

Tip #6:  You don't have to limit yourself to cutting straight lines.  You can also cut curved lines.  Create a pattern with it--cut more than one curved line, and space them evenly apart.

Tip #7:  Cut the tip off at an angle.  Additionally, you can also cut some lines out that run parallel to the line you just created by cutting off the tip.

Tip #8: Cut long lines along a crease.  You could even line it up with another cut you've already made.

Using the tips I just shared, you can make a snowflake that looks like this one:

Get creative and combine any number of different ideas.  Also, it never hurts to look at other people's snowflakes that you like and copy their ideas.  That can often help you learn what you like and don't like and how to do certain techniques well or improve on them.  Happy snowflake making, everybody!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great tutorial! I will have to give it a try making your fancy 'flakes. Snowflake making is a lot of fun.


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