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Simple Paper Cutting

What you will make:

In this project you are introduced to the art of paper cutting through the techniques of cut apart and layered paper. Both of these techniques are simple and well-suited to the computer. These are techniques that can be used to decorate greeting cards, stationery, boxes, gift wraps, or any paper craft project. They can also be used to create mobiles and pictures suitable for framing.

At the end of this project page, read a brief note about paper cutting traditions around the world.

Here's what you need:
  • Computer paper (white and colored)
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Cardstock for making greeting cards or mounting paper cuts.
  • Glue
  • Pencil

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Simple Paper Cuts

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose a paper cutting technique to try. Download and print the pattern on paper. The black & white patterns can be printed on cardstock for use as templates when cutting decorative paper. Each pattern includes a drawing of the finished paper cut, shapes to cut, and suggested paper colors.

Bird and Butterfly
Printable pattern for bird and butterfly layered paper cuts
Flower Paper Cuts
Printable pattern for flower layered paper cuts
Cut Aparts
Printable pattern for cut apart paper cuts

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

Step 2: Layered Paper Technique

One of the easiest types of paper cutting is layered paper where different shapes are glued on top of each other in multiple layers.

  • Cut a simple shape from a sheet of paper.
  • To make another layer, take a piece of paper of a different color and trace around the cut shape. Now, cut a smaller shape within the traced outline.
  • Make 1 to 3 more layers, always using a different color paper and the previous layer as a guide.
  • Arrange the layers in order from largest to smallest and glue in place.
How to make layered paper cuts

Tip: A layered paper cut can be used to decorate a card or bookmark, or combine several layered paper cuts with other cut shapes to make a picture.

Step 3: Cut Apart Technique

The cut apart technique is very easy to do. It simply involves cutting a cut shaped into a number of sections.

  • Get two pieces of paper in contrasting colors.
  • Cut a simple shape from one of the sheets, and then cut it into different shape pieces.
  • Glue the cut shape to the other sheet of paper leaving space between the pieces.
How to make cut apart paper cuts

Tip: Another way to arrange the pieces is to flip some of the cut apart pieces over. See the Leaf Silhouette Cards greeting card tutorial for an example.

Step 4: Use the Paper Cuts

The paper cuts made in this project can be used to decorate many different things. You might use the flowers on a bookmark or the fish on a greeting card. Arrange several paper cuts together to make a picture, and then mat and frame it. Wrap a package with a plain sheet of wrapping paper and glue paper cuts on it.

Use paper cuts to decorate greeting cards and gift tags

After you are familiar with these techniques, design your own shapes for layered paper and cut apart paper cuts.


About paper cutting traditions around the world

The first examples of paper cutting came from China in the 4th or 5th century. The Chinese have developed paper cutting into a beautiful and intricate art called chien-chih. The most sophisticated patterns take an incredible amount of skill to cut and may take months to complete. The paper cuts are usually created with very thin red paper using many traditional designs.

Paper cutting has developed as an art all around the world wherever paper is plentiful. The best known traditions are scherenschnitte from Germany and Switzerland, kirigami from Japan, and wycinanki from Poland. Paper cutting also has a long and popular history in Mexico with the craft originating with the Mayans in the 6th century. Each tradition of paper cutting has developed a unique style that sets it apart from the others. The styles range from simple silhouettes to wonderfully intricate and colorful collages.

Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

ePaper Extra

Tip: Print Aunt Annie's  Marbled Stones in Green and Blue ePaper on white paper then use it to make paper cuts.

Paper snowflake decorated greting card

Related project: Learn one of the most popular triple fold techniques of paper cutting in the Symmetry in Snowflakes craft project.

Paper doll chains

More related projects: Learn how to cut hearts using the single fold technique in the Hearts Cutouts project and how to cut Paper Doll Chains using accordion folded paper.

Gift tag with 3-D layered paper cuts

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Tip: Curl the petals of the layered flower paper cuts to make them 3-dimensional.

Cut apart fish paper cut made of marbled paper

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Tip: Make cut apart paper cuts with marbled paper or other decorative paper.

This fish paper cut was made with Aunt Annie's Red Marbled Stones ePaper.

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