Make a Papercut Personal Gift

Jo Kirk, creator at The Long Room studio, shows us how to make a beautiful and personal gift using her downloadable template and simple tools.

Jo Kirk is the Resident Creator at The Long Room studio in rural Rutland, where she experiments with paper, printmaking and design. All of Jo’s papercuts are drawn and then cut by hand with a very sharp scalpel. Her intricate designs are often inspired by nature, the sea, seasons and literary texts. Jo moonlights as a teacher and when  she is not drawing or chasing smallish children around, can often be found with her nose in a book, cup of tea in hand.

Jo also takes on personal commissions and can customise particular pieces on request.

She frequents Instagram @thelongroom and can be contacted via her Etsy shop and Facebook page.

This beginner’s festive star wreath mainly uses straight lines and so it is a good introduction to basic paper cutting technique. The middle of the design can be filled with a precious photo, saying or festive greeting – perfect for your own decorations or gifting to someone special!

Tools and Supplies

  • craft knife or scalpel
  • spare blades
  • cutting mat
  • square picture frame
  • pencil
  • rubber
  • scissors
  • acrylic spray paint
  • photograph
  • acetate
  • glue stick or spray adhesive
  • drawing compass or circular template (eg sellotape roll)
  • template print-out on paper of choice
  • backing mount paper cut to the size of your frame
  • Star Wreath Outline Template
  • Merry Christmas Greeting Template

Top Tips
Before you start working through the instructions, here are some handy hints to make your first attempt at papercutting that little bit easier…

  • Always work from the back of your design to avoid unsightly pencil or print marks on the front of your papercut
  • Always pull the blade of your knife towards you. Slowly rotate the cutting mat or papercut as you cut any curves, so that you never have to pull the knife away from your body
  • Always use a sharp blade, otherwise you are likely to rip the paper or tear your design
  • Always cut a design out starting with the smallest, most detailed areas
  • Choose the weight of your paper carefully. For heavier paper or card, you will need to exert more downwards pressure on the blade – this makes it harder to cut out complex designs. 120 – 160 gsm paper is ideal, but experiment with what feels best for you as everyone holds and uses a blade slightly differently

Instructions :
1. Gather together all the tools that you will need and make sure that you have printed the template onto the back of your chosen paper. You will be working from the reverse of the design in order to keep all the cutting lines hidden.

2. Using your craft knife, carefully cut out the smallest sections inside the wreath, between the stars. It is important to make these fiddly cuts at the beginning while the paper is most stable. Work your way carefully around the wreath, cutting and then removing these little sections with the tip of your blade.

3. Next, cut away the middle section of the wreath so that you have a hole in the centre of your design.

4. Finally, work around the outer edge of the wreath so that you are able to release the whole design from the paper. Ta dah! At this stage, you may decide to spray your star wreath with an acrylic spray paint – perhaps gold, silver or another festive colour. If you do this, make sure that you spray lightly to prevent the paper from buckling and distorting. Do this in a well ventilated room.

5. Now it is time to work on the centre of your star wreath. In this template there are two design options for the centre: a photograph or a Christmas greeting.

6. If you are using a photograph, draw a circle onto the reverse of your chosen photo. You can use a drawing compass or draw around a circular object – I have used a conventional roll of tape as my template. If you have cut an A4-sized wreath, then the approximate diameter of this inner circle needs to be 8 cm wide. Cut the circle out with scissors.

7. If you are using the Christmas Greeting template for your inner circle, print it out and then carefully cut out the lettering. (Remember you are working from the back of the design so at this stage the lettering is back-to-front.) Spray with acrylic spray if required.

8.Now that you have made the two key elements of your papercut design, it is time to frame your artwork. The method you use will depend upon the frame you have chosen.

Double glass frame: Your papercut will be sandwiched flat between two layers of glass and only needs attaching to the back sheet of glass with the smallest dab of glue, as the pressure and static will hold it in place.

  • A simple mount: Use spray adhesive to carefully position and attach the wreath and the circle to the backing mount. Assemble the frame.
  • A box frame: If you have a deep frame with a spacer inside, you can frame the papercut between the glass and a sheet of clear acetate. This will achieve a floating effect similar to that of a double-glass frame. Cut the acetate to the same size as your glass and then affix your papercut to the centre of the acetate with glue. Then fit the glass into the frame followed by the acetate, then the spacer, then the backing mount and finally the back of the frame.

Copyright Jo Kirk, The Long Room, October 2017. All rights reserved. Designs are provided for personal use only.  Cannot be used for commercial gain.