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Easy Art: Hand Cut Paper Ornaments

When it comes to working with a medium, nothing beats working with paper. Overall, it is inexpensive and readily available. It can be flat, or it can be dimensional. You can custom color it, or get it pre-colored. You can use paper with prints, or you can print your own. You can use old paper, or even make your own. It comes in different finishes and different textures, different shapes and sizes. It is a one size fits all kind of medium, and you can use it almost any kind of application.

A wonderful application for paper is to create decorative objects which, for the purposes of this article, we will call ornaments. Paper ornaments can be individual pieces, chains of the same object, chains of various objects linked together, or a simple collection of pieces that utilize one concept in many different ways. Create light shades, table decoration, gift boxes, hanging stars, party decorations, picture frames, fans, and a whole host of other things. All you need do is imagine it.

Tools and Materials
You don't need a whole arsenal of tools to create beautiful paper objects, but there are a few things that I'll make it easier to engage your creativity and create ornaments that will have better longevity.

X-acto Blade: A proper cutting tool will allow you to make precise, clean cuts, sharp corners, and cut out hard-to-reach holes that might not be possible with a pair of scissors. Make sure your blade is sharp and clean: this will give you the best lines.

Cutting Mat: A cutting mat is a wonderful surface to work on; it allows you to cut completely through the paper and into the mat itself to make thorough cuts and avoid tears. A cutting mat is also a responsive surface; you can press into the mat, and a good mat will feel slightly springy.

Ruler: Get a good ruler, one with clear ruling marks and a straight, unmarked edge that you can use to draw straight lines. Just as with any medium you cut, remember to measure twice, or even thrice, and cut once.

Glue: The type of glue you use to create an ornament can be the difference between whether your creating last for a week or a year. The better quality the glue, the longer the ornament will hold together.

Designing Objects
Now that you have assembled your tools, it's time to design. The key to strong design is to know where you are going with it, so keep the following in mind as you design for your paper objects.

Think Application: Will your objects be used for a specific purpose, such as decoration for a table centerpiece? Will your object be something that need to be hung, or mounted? Will your object be in a sunny spot, or an area of high traffic? All of these considerations, and more, should come into play during the design process. Make sure to think about all these possibilities before you begin to design, so that you can include things like a tab to hang the object from, or whether there should be three points on the bottom so it can stand stably on its own.

Think Dimension: Paper objects are most impressive, and the most fun to make, when they have a nice element of dimension. Paper can be rounded or bent to create dimension, or it can be cut, folded, and glued together to make a three-dimensional shape. Pay attention to where you can include elements of dimension to give your paper object more impact.

Think Connections: If you want to create a solid paper cube, think about how you will connect the paper together to maintain the shape. The most common way to stabilize paper objects is to include a tab in the design where you piece of paper will need to be attached to another piece. Maybe the design calls for attaching a piece of paper to itself; if so, make sure you leave yourself plenty of "attachment space" to work with when creating your design - especially before you make any cuts.