A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: papercutting

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.


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.


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.

Oh yeah. Here’s the card btw.

Here’s the back, to acknowledge the artist.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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

Final design

Transferring the reversed design onto card.

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

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.

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.


Been working on my papercutting on and off over the past couple of months. I was most recently inspired by a competition set by an awesome cutter, Paper Panda to design a cut based on a song. I wish I’d had time to sketch out a few more designs but I quite quickly settled on Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine. I listened to it all the time after I split up with a boyfriend a couple of years ago and still get a little memory of that feeling each time I hear it.

I wanted to use tracing paper to transfer this more complex design, but I couldn’t find any. I improvised with baking parchment, which kind of worked. The graphite seemed to rub off the paper more easily than desirable. So I’d only try this in a pinch.

I also made a little card for my dad.

His birthday’s in May and I STILL don’t know what to make for him. Men are so inconvenient.

I’ve only just finished clearing away the Christmas bits and birthday season is upon me in earnest. The lovely Mrs A is considering a Simpsons tattoo so this quotation from the great Hans Moleman seemed apt. I decided to try and design a ‘proper’ papercut, i.e. all made from a single sheet of paper. I made up the fonts as I went along. Although it’s not perfect, I’m pleased with the result.

Here’s the process I used. First I sketched the design on lined paper. Any ‘floating’ elements like my apostrophe and ‘s’ must be attached to the border. First I tried a floral design but it didn’t feel right so I added the glasses.

I drew very heavily in pencil over the final lines so that I could scribble over the back to get a mirror image of the design onto the back of my green paper.

I went over the lines again as they came out unevenly. Then it was time to cut! I did all the smallest parts first so that the paper would be as stable as possible.
Towards the end I was really holding my breath! One slip and you ruin the whole thing.

Then it was just the matter of sticking it to the backing and trimming down.

but when I do, I go for it! This is a card that I made for my previous supervisor at work, who is widely believed to have a condition called ‘musical Tourette’s’, which, tragically, isn’t nearly as amusing as it sounds.


I think it came out okay, but I really must invest in some nicer paper. Everything I have has been either recycled or ‘borrowed’ from one place or another so the quality is variable and the colours aren’t amazing. Were I to do this again, I would also change the orientation of the card to landscape as the bars of music would look much better if they were longer.

This isn’t a proper how-to as I made this very late at night and so forgot to take very many pictures. I started out with a couple of sketches, which I turned into templates.


Using some reference images of music, I drew the bars straight onto my backing card, outlined in nice black marker, and forgot to rub out the pencil marks. Oops.


I cut the letters using a combination of craft knife and scissors. My knife skills still need a lot of work and I find it very hard to cut curves using the knife, especially when cutting through two layers of paper (template and coloured card) at once.

You can’t really tell from the photo, but the notes are raised from the surface of the paper using adhesive squares, which looked pretty good. I was too tired to ensure that the notes made up ‘proper’ music (plus I haven’t read sheet music in 10 years and I wasn’t great back then either) otherwise I would have made some kind of witty musical pun, maybe by arranging the notes as ‘Smack my bitch up’, ’99 problems’ or an equally inappropriate song. Interesting that the first two tunes that came to mind are pretty misogynistic. Don’t analyse that too closely…