Now that 12th night has passed, our Christmas decorations have all come down. In the UK it is considered bad luck to leave decorations up past 12th night, so by 6th January everything is gone and the house looks very bare. I think that can vary in other places, I remember travelling in Australia at the end of January and Santa with his warm fur suit was still clinging to lamp posts along the sea front in Surfer's Paradise. It looked very bizarre to our English eyes to see this in 80 degree heat!
It is -2 degrees (Celsius) here today, we have had some snow overnight, and it is anything but warm! Santa's fur lined suit would really come in handy. So my windows need brightening up with a seasonally appropriate decoration. I am cutting some white snowflakes which will look pretty in the window.
I expect that we all have done this at sometime - fold a square of paper into eight quadrants and cut through all the layers with slots and holes in order to make symmetrical patterns through which the light can shine. I remember making these as a child, but they were never as pretty as the real thing. These days I have worked out some of the ways that we can really up the snowflake cutting.
Firstly consider your folding. Snowflakes have a 6 sided pattern. And nature uses a 6 sided pattern for many of its own designs. So cutting an 8 sided pattern will always somehow jar with our sense of reality. Even if we are not quite sure what it is, our sense of natural balance will recognise the beauty of the six sided form. It is slightly trickier to fold a six sided form, but with only a few practices it is actually quite easy to do.
It is really useful to find a set square with 60 and 30 degree angles. Have a rummage in your child's school geometry case, there will usually be one of these:
The measurements along the sides do not matter at all - but all sides will be different lengths. This is important - as the different side lengths give you the angle of 30 degrees (the pointyest one) And 60 degrees (the not quite so pointy one).
How to fold your paper:
1.Start with a square of paper. Fold it in half diagonally.
2. With the folded edge in front of you, fold again from left to right, then open up this fold.
3. Use your set square (or anything that gives you a 30 degree angle - I have a handy piece of card that I cut out to use over). Line up the longest side of your set square to lie along the fold of the paper, with the pointiest point pointing to the folded edge!
4. Now fold the right hand side of your paper over the edge of the set square (or angle guide).
5. Fold over the left hand point to match the right. You can remove your set square or angle guide at this point. Your folds should match, meaning that the outside edges line up and the inside flap lies neatly in the crease of the outside flap. It is OK to adjust the fold at this point to get them nicely even and a good sharp point at the bottom. This is the centre point of your snowflake.
6. Finally follow the arrow to fold the shop in half along the centre line which you creased in step 2.
7. Trim the top of your folded shape
Cutting your paper snowflake
Now you have a 6 pointed form from which you can cut your shapes. Try to think beyond just slots and holes. There are so many shapes that you can cut to make some very interesting snowflakes.
The template below cuts away all of the shaded areas leaving a very small and seemingly insignificant piece of folded paper. But careful unwrapping of the paper will yield a beautiful star shape.
I practice my shapes using printer paper. For window snowflakes I find that thinner and semi-transparent paper looks pretty. But use what you have, you can make some beautiful shapes from your six pointed form.
If you want a little kit and cutting ideas to make some snowflakes - Have a look at my snowflake kit in the shop. Click here. The kit contains an angle guide, some white transparent paper that you can use for window snowflakes, and a template of 6 cutting plans that make the snowflakes in my picture above. Once you have made those, you will be well on the way to creating your own designs.