Snowflakes
A Winter Topic Sample

Other Winter Topics:

Artisan Truffles

Ice and Crystals

Evergreen Crafts

The Wrapping-Paper Princess

Hot Chocolate Tea

Rocket Stoves

Fireside Stories

Writing and Illustration

Indoor Crafts & Repairs

Research

Every year, Erica creates new and amazing paper snowflake designs.  Yes, these are just like the ones you made in kindargarten -- only Erica has been doing it for over 20 years. 

Why do so many of us stop doing craft projects after elementary school?  Paper snowflakes can teach much more than "scissor control!"   

Designing a snowflake with recognizable shapes, like carpenty, involves substantial command of geometry.  Practice will teach snowflake artists to recognize  isoscelese and right triangles, acute and obtuse angles, precise 30, 60, 90, and 180 degree folds and cuts; and internalizing mirror symmetries to produce accurate lines, curves, and tangents across folds.  (Also like carpentry, even expert crafters tend to produce a lot of "kindling" for any given masterpiece!)

Snowflake design, like any art form, can be an excuse to observe the world more closely.  (And to encourage others to do the same!)  Can you cut a "realistic" snowflake based on a photograph?  Can you create recognizable silhouettes of familiar objects?  Do others see what you intended, or do new patterns appear from someone else's perspective?  (Just hope your strawberries and bananas don't turn into cockroaches, like mine did!)  In the pictured snowflakes, can you spot the sun, moon cycle, cats, daisies, lovebirds, and three-dimensional hearts?

To create these images requires patience, paper, and sharp scissors.   Creating them freehand (without drawing first) cultivates a kind of spontaneous, adaptive focus also found in martial arts and ink-painting.  It's not necessary to create them freehand, however: designing and editing with pencil, or even tracing, are entirely appropriate.  Freehand allows more creative cover-ups of "mistakes," though!

Close observation of natural forms, traditional graphic imagery, and symmetries will allow any artist to create similar designs.  For those who want to replicate the images above without years of practice time, Erica is working on a short book of instructions.  This will include step-by-step skill-builders including paper dolls, fans, hearts, and snowflake folding; patterns for elaborate figurative and three-dimensional papercuts like the ones shown above, and ideas for taking this craft further and using it to enhance other arts.  (Stencils, mobiles, and more).

Sample pages coming soon -- check back by the end of January 2008!