Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paper snowflakes, revisited

Note: This post is a mashup of several posts on making paper snowflakes that I’ve done in the past few winters. I’ve been so busy this year that I haven’t had time to make any yet! Perhaps I will have done this by Christmas; I’ll post photos if/when I do!

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., where there never seemed to be a shortage of snow by Christmas time, but here in North Carolina, we haven't had a decent snowfall in years. Gosh, I'm tired of dragging my kids around on their sled in the mud and about 1/4 inch of snow! So my daughters and I decided to make our own blizzard this weekend – with paper snowflakes.

We stuck them up on our front window using double-sided tape and now we feel frosty even when the thermometer is not!

Here are my directions for making them:

Start with a piece of white paper, the thinner the better. Fold up one end so that the edges meet along one side and you have a nice point at the corner. Crease very well with your fingernail. (Sharp creases and precise folds are the keys to making nice snowflakes.)

Trim the excess paper so you have a triangle (a square if you open it up).

Fold the triangle in half again and position your new triangle with the longest side down, so it looks like a little mountain, like this:

Here's the trickiest part. You now have to fold this triangle into thirds. Start on one side and give it your best guess. Fold it gently, without creasing, because you will probably have to adjust it a bit before you get it right. (Don't worry, you'll get the hang of this after you've done a few snowflakes.)

Now fold in from the other side. Inspect it from both sides. You should have it folded into thirds. If not, go back and adjust it. Then crease well. Make sure the point at the top is sharp and precise.

Here's how it looks from the other side (I think it resembles a rocketship):

Trim off the "tails" (or the flames, if you are envisioning a rocketship) so that you have just a triangle again.

If you open it halfway up, you can see how it is folded into thirds (sixths if you open it all the way up):

Now, cut your design. Use the sharpest paper scissors you have. You can also use hole punches to punch circles in the interior. Remember that the shapes you cut into the folded sides will be doubled (a semicircle becomes a whole circle). You can cut smooth curves, or sharp angles. Have fun and experiment. Here's my design:

And here's the most fun part! Unfold your snowflake and enjoy. Don't you feel the chill in the air?

You can do this activity with fairly young children. With little kids, who sometimes have a hard time cutting through all the layers, have them draw the design in pencil, and then an adult can cut it out, and the child can unfold it.