How to make a paper-cutting

How to make a paper-cutting

The art of paper-cutting (or scherenschnitte), is a fascinating and rewarding paper-craft, most often recognized as a bold black cut-out, set against a white background. Sometimes they can also be the negative image, in its white form, set against a black background. Both look right, so it’s a personal choice as to how you create your own paper-cutting.

An image that is not identical on both halves (such as image shown), is ‘asymmetrical’. An identical image on both sides (if folded at the middle), is considered ‘symmetrical’. The following steps will assume to be working on an asymmetrical image, and with black paper.


Step 1

Finding a suitable design:

Search the internet for silhouette clip-art, or find books in your library related to paper-cutting, or scherenschnitte is another term used. If you’re looking to use your images for anything other than personal use, do take special note of conditions of use and copyright details etc.

Dover publications offers many titles under «silhouette». These are usually accompanied with a cd-rom holding hundreds of images. They can be used as is, or worked with further and added to and manipulated within a computerized graphics program, creating a more personalized and unique design.

If you can draw, you can create your very own original designs.

Step 2

From design .. to silhouette

1. Print or draw your chosen image

2. Trim this image, well outside the outer lines, and tape it randomly, on top of the black silhouette paper. Just enough to hold in place, while you cut.

3. Start cutting the white areas out. Cut smallest white «sections» out first, and where possible, work from the middle parts of the image.

4. There’s really no right, or wrongs, you will get a feel for it as you go along, but generally, cut first where it appears most logical. Taking from the smallest sections first only helps to hold your image together as you work with it. As you cut away larger areas, naturally the ‘support network’ is being diminished, and more care needs to be taken. This is a craft to be enjoyed as you progress, without rushing it through.

Step 3

All will be revealed:

When the cutout is complete, gently peel away the masking tape, and carefully remove the top «copy» to find your new paper-cutting. Paper-cuttings can be used to decorate hand-made cards for special people in your life, also framed, for your home or as a gift item.

Paper cutting sites
  • Paper Cutters
    a directory of paper cutters around the world
  • The heart of papercutting
    a blog dedicated to the magic art of papercutting
  • Ellen Brown Designs
    a varied collection of paper cut designs includes «valentine with fringe» shown alongside.

Things Needed
• Design image (pattern)
• Black silhouette paper
• Masking tape
• Small sharp scissors, or a craft knife
• Self-healing mat (if using a craft knife)

Tips & Warnings
• Be mindful of copyright conditions attached to any designs available through both the internet or books.
• Work at your own pace, especially when using a craft knife in lieu of scissors.


Add a comment



Text commentary: