A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: papercraft

I’m still plugging away with my craft knife and most recently made a small piece for a friend’s thirtieth birthday. The more I hear about turning thirty, the more I like the sound of it. I decided to emphasise the sunny aspect of growing older and wiser in the cut.

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I wonder if this also represents an unconscious response to the feedback that my thesis celebration card was ‘too dark’. Ain’t nothin’ dark about a lovely sun, right? Right?

Here’s what the card looks like finished and backed.

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The heart is totally there just for cuteness, and not to cover up a mistake I made right near the end.


Very simple customisation project today, a card that I jazzed up for a colleague who is moving on to a new job. It’s surprisingly difficult to find tasteful leaving cards that don’t feature either twee poetry or thinly veiled envy that the person might be going on to better things. I really loved this card that I found in Waterstones in Gloucester as I liked the sentiment and also I am a complete sucker for anything sky-themed.
If you don’t believe me, check out the necklace and shoe combo I was rocking that day.

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Oh yeah. Here’s the card btw.

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Here’s the back, to acknowledge the artist.

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Anyway, the card was beautiful but small and there are quite a few people in our team. Someone wisely suggested sticking the card to a larger sheet of card and an idea was born. Here is what I did.

You will need

  • A pre-bought card
  • A large sheet of card (construction paper)- A2 or A3 would probably be ideal
  • Glue- spray adhesive is best but a glue stick will also work
  • Scissors
  • Metallic pens, stickers (optional)
  • *Imagination*

Choose a coordinating sheet of card
Art supply shops normally sell a wide variety of high quality card (construction paper) in different sizes. I actually had to buy an A1 sheet as the shop I visited only had that and A4 and I’d left it to the last minute. Carrying that down Kensington High Street on a windy day was a party, I can tell you.
I got someone in reprographics to trim it down to A3 using this AMAZING and terrifying electronic guillotine thing. It was so cool. Or you could just trim it yourself with a normal guillotine or scissors, if you’re a muggle.
Fold your sheet of card in half.

Play with your elements
Do you want a plain background or patterned? You could stick some wrapping paper to the front of the card. Consider whether to mount your purchased card onto a plain backing for better contrast and ‘pop’.
The balloon card is pretty busy so I decided on a plain background.

Add a message
Choose a coordinating colour. You want all of the elements of the card to tie together. I hand wrote my message, then used tracing paper to flip the writing onto the reverse of my card before cutting out.

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If you have access to a decent scanner/printer and you’re not an idiot like me, you could use the wonders of technology to print the flipped text straight onto the card and cut out messing with tracing paper altogether. If you don’t like the idea of designing the text, pick a font on the computer and use that. You could print in colour onto plain card or paper that way.

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Stickin’ it to the man
Use spray adhesive or a glue stick to put everything together. Consider using a metallic pen or stickers to enhance your design.

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I saw a really interesting Kickstarter campaign the other day for light-up pop-up cards and I just had to back it. One of my longer-term craft goals is to make a light-up Xmas jumper and I feel like this is a step on that glorious road.

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This is what came in the kit.

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I won’t go into massive detail about what I did, but I will probably do a how to if I ever get around to designing a card like this. Essentially you use basic paper folding/construction techniques combined with simple circuitry using copper tape. So I made a box to house the LED

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And then used copper tape to make a simple circuit with a switch. Something I often hear, now that I’m technically an adult and education professional, is complaints about how the things you learn at school have no practical application. Well, in my case, as I get older I’m often taken back to things I was taught, especially through craft. Oh my god, did I just admit that I actually learnt something from Mr Wilson? .

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The workings are hidden with a pre-cut piece of card with the cute message, then there are some more 3D pop-up bits for fun.

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There is also a little piece to indicate where the switch is hidden.

If I hadn’t been in a hurry to finish the tree, I probably would have customised it with some more decoration. As it is, I quite like that you can see the circuit beneath the tree’s skirts.

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I finally got to see the finished version of the card that the University of Essex made with my design for their thesis competition. With no further ado…

Thesis card papercut side

Unfortunately they didn’t airbrush out some of the little mistakes I made, but I guess it proves that I really made it myself. Looking back at my papercut posts, I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made since I first picked up a scalpel a few months ago. Also the beautiful blue of the background doesn’t look that good. They kindly returned the original to me, so I will see if I can get a picture that is more true to colour.

Here is the reverse of the card, which is slightly less exciting (but does namecheck me). I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that this may be the only publication that comes out of my doctorate…

Thesis card reverse

It’s nice to think of these going out to all of the shellshocked and baffled people who somehow find themselves in Colchester handing over their brain babies.


This is one of my very favourite quotations from the late, great Maya Angelou. Over the past few years I’ve been rediscovering the feminist beliefs I held so passionately up until the age of twelve or so, but that were totally crushed out of me by the patriarchy. Damn patriarchy.

Anyway, this is a message that really resonates with me, and I try to take it on board in life wherever I can. I wanted to share it with a close friend who has been having a difficult time.

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My process was the standard, starting with a sketch. I couldn’t decide to do with the dots of the ‘i’s so at first I left them off.

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As I copied the design onto tracing paper, I added a few final changes when I reversed it onto the white card stock I would be cutting. This included the addition of the little kites.

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Next it was time to cut. You can look here if you want to see my process. A surprisingly tricky bit was cutting the tracing paper to fill the word ‘air’. Very fiddly.

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I was pleased to get some all too rare good news during the week- the card I designed for the competition my university ran won! Although, like my thesis itself, it came back with some minor corrections. Unlike the thesis, however, the corrections did come with a very welcome addition to the prize, which means I should be able to afford a nice new backpack for my summer travels.
I spent an evening working on the amendments. They wanted me to change ‘Life after thesis’ to ‘Life after the thesis’ and also to remove my little quip about thesis-related nightmares. Apparently they want the tone of a celebratory card to be ‘light’. I don’t really do light.

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I think it looks okay with the changes. Can you tell? I removed the line with ‘after’ on it, re-cut a line with ‘after the’ on it and popped it in place. Removing the text about nightmares proved surprisingly difficult. I hope the commissioners will be happy with what I was able to do.


I designed this paper cut for a competition run by the university I technically attend. They decided, after we submitted, that it would be nice to give students a card when they hand in and further we, the students who left the office with nothing but horrible memories, would be best placed to design that card. Unfortunately I’m a total sucker for an excuse to make stuff so I had a go.

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Even though there are quite a few mistakes (including two areas where I had to stick sections of text back together!) overall I’m happy with this piece. I like to set myself really ambitious craft challenges sometimes, and this was definitely one of the hardest!
It took about two or three hours to do the preparation- designing, drawing up the final composition, transferring it to tracing paper and then onto the final piece of card. The actual cutting took about eight hours in total. By the end I had a really sore back from sitting hunched over my cutting mat as well as an impressive blister on my index finger. I would have looked like a hybrid of Quasimodo and ET as I hobbled around showing people my injured finger. Craft is so cool.
Here is yet another GIF of my work on my Tumblr. And now for some progress pics.
Initial sketch

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Final design

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Transferring the reversed design onto card.

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This is what it looked like once I had cut out the design.

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I’ve been inspired by the work of Paper Panda, which is where I got the idea for the rainbow. It was fiddly to do at first but I got the hang of it after a couple of colours.

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The final stage was to add the backing. If I had photo editing software, I would probably clean it up a bit, but I can live with the flaws. They prove it’s handmade.

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