Friday, 27 January 2017

Victorian-style Valentine

Back in Victorian times, when paper - and printing - first became inexpensive for the mass market (and there was also the introduction of the penny post...) - lots of ingenuity was expended in coming up with wow-factor interactive cards. Today's project is a cage card Valentine, popular way back when. Pull the cord - tah dah - top layer telescopes and the secret message underneath is revealed. Fun.

Here's your free Cage Card Valentine:

Valentine Cage Card

1 Print out the top layer on to 160 gsm photocopier card.

2 Flip the printed top layer to the back and turn it upside down. Put it back into the printer and print out the lattice. Alternatively, you can print the lattice on to copier paper, cut out the central rectangle and glue it on to the flip side of the card front with glue stick.

4 Cut out the lattice, carefully using a craft knife on a cutting mat. Pierce a hole in the centre.

5 Thread a piece of craft thread through the hole; knot it on the underside.

6 Print out the base layer (the secret message) on to photocopier card.
Attach front to base with edges aligned. Use double-sided tape. Place
tape strips around the central message rectangle and also around the outer edges of the bottom layer. You're done!

This card is big fun to make. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Fold & Cut giveaway winner

The winner of the Fold & Cut giveaway is... Shirley Young!
Congrats, Shirley. Your prize will be sent to you soon. Enjoy -
happy super-symmetrical papercutting!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Print & Pattern: Nature, by Bowie Style. Review.

By Bowie Style

Laurence King Publishing 2017

304 pages, 430 colour illustrations

Paperback £19.99

ISBN 9781780679150

Star rating: *****

From time to time I run features on surface pattern design. Knowing how to D-I-Y decorate your projects is an indispensable superpower for a  papercrafter. Today I am spotlighting Print & Pattern: Nature, the newest addition to the superb Print & Pattern series. These books  are lovingly-curated bumper compendiums of themed designs by the best and the brightest global talent in the surface pattern field. The series is the brainchild of Marie Perkins, a.k.a. Bowie Style, the freelance designer whose Print & Pattern blog, going since 2006, has upped the profile of surface pattern design. 

When it comes to print and pattern design, Mother Nature is the mother lode – so it is surprising that this volume has not come out sooner – now that it is here, cause for celebration. Within the pages of the book, you will find patterns and motifs inspired by flora and fauna – beautiful botanicals, birds and butterflies – and lots of cute cacti designs (I know you love them). There are designs for fabric, stationery and cards, giftwrap, wallpaper, and homeware products.  All of the designs are reproduced in full colour on quality paper and are accompanied by a capsule bio of the designer, citing background and design influences. (Always a pleasure to discover what makes creatives tick.)

What sort of designs are featured? Stylized motifs with subject matter suitable for papercraft-y applications: mason jars, cacti, terrariaums, pot plants, leafy designs, folk art motifs - hard-edged designs and painterly techniques.

Dip into Print & Pattern: Nature if you are seeking inspiration for a project colourway, or if you want to get a feel for current trends in pattern design. Settle in with a cup of tea and enjoy a design odyssey.

There are several themed other titles in the Print & Pattern series – all are great go-to resources for design ideas.
The Print & Pattern range from Laurence King.

Note:  I was supplied with a review copy of this title.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Fold & Cut Giveaway

Today I have a giveaway - Search Press has kindly donated a copy of Naomi Shiek's gorgeous new papercutting title Fold & Cut, featured here yesterday.

To be in with a chance, contact me at
You have until midnight 24 January. After the closing date, I'll select a winner at random.

Open to UK residents only.

Good luck!

Fold & Cut, new papercutting title by Naomi Shiek

48 Super-Symmetrical Templates to Cut or Trace
By Naomi Shiek
Search Press 2017
Paperback, £12.99
ISBN 9 781 782 21518

This isn’t quite a book review, more a “heads up, here’s a lovely new papercraft title”. You see, I am not quite an impartial reviewer – I had the privilege to contribute, in a small way, to the making of this book. The author, Naomi Shiek (pronounced chic – and her designs most certainly are), lives abroad – so, being a locally-sourced papercrafter,  I was called upon to be the “hobby hands” for the how-to photography. Fun assignment.

Now, more about the book. This is a papercutting book with a unique concept – all the designs are symmetrical, so the paper is folded and the cutting time is reduced dramatically – halved, or even quartered. Lightbulb idea! You have the option of cutting the templates out directly from the book, or you can download the templates from the provided link and print them out yourself on to the paper of your choice. This enables you to produce projects in quantity for parties or special occasions.

The book includes 24 projects and additional templates, often offering alternative versions of a design – example – the filigree papercraft scissors come in two styles. The designs are exquisite and imaginative, with an emphasis on woodland flora and fauna (the author's speciality) – Naomi Shiek has a fluid style. There is plenty of variety in end-purpose – not just cards, cards, cards. My favourite is the Leafy Gift Tag, with three layered leaves in graduated sizes. Other projects include a tea light Lantern, Feather Cupcake Toppers, Leafy Giftwrap, Leafy Ribbon (papercuts in a repeating design), a Fox Mask, and an Enchanted Castle Card, and a butterfly Mobile. The lush, folded Wedding Invitation is given in three different designs.

The projects cater to varying levels of papercutting experience – something for everyone, newbie to advanced.

The project shots are gorgeous, the step-by-steps detailed, and the designs are all provided full-size. The basic how-to section upfront will get you up-to-speed. 

This concludes my “non-review” of a noteworthy new papercutting book. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Cut and Fold Paper Textures, by Paul Jackson. Review.

Cut and Fold Paper Textures:

Techniques for Surface Design

By Paul Jackson

Laurence King Publishing, January 2017

Paperback, £16.99

ISBN 978-1-78067-861-0

Star rating: ****

Here’s an antidote to the January doldrums – a  new title from papercraft design go-to guy, Paul Jackson. The topic this time is surface texture – the author’s aim is to get you thinking in 3-D, with paper itself as a “structural material”. As the author says, “perhaps we are too quick to accept paper’s traditional role as a ground (for printing and drawing on)". So, with the goal of imparting surface interest, the author examines 12 different techniques: twisting, weaving, layering, coiling, tearing, bending, pleating, crumpling, incising and lifting, cut pleats, stippling, and translucent surfaces. Surface textures are having a well-deserved fashion moment - and Paul Jackson's book is his papery take on the phenomenon.

Each chapter introduces a technique with accompanying how-tos, then progresses to monochrome examples, two-colour examples, then finally all-singing, all-dancing full-colour examples. Lots of accompanying inspirational photos – not all of papercraft projects (but all of the projects would have initially been inspired by the featured papercraft technique).This ramping-it-up format works a treat.

The chapter on twisting looks in on the little-used technique of fashioning things out of coiled paper twine. And the chapter on Coiling is a celebration of quilling – a papercraft that has recently been shaking off its fusty image (not that we didn’t already love it).The chapters on tearing and folding explain how to work with the grain of the paper. The chapter on Incising and Lifting showcases patterning achieved by papercutting – but this is cut-and-pierced paperwork, not papercutting with fully-evacuated holes. A magical element can be added to cut-and-pierced designs through the addition of backlight – or backing paper. The chapter on Stippling is about creating pointillist effects by needle-piercing or paper indentation. The chapter on Translucent Surfaces is about creating layered stained-glass-like effects.These designs are reverse-engineered - literally, layered and lit from behind. So - endless variety to highlight the chameleon-like transformative power of paper. 

Dip into this book if you are looking to try a new papercraft technique, or if you wish to add excitement to a project in progress. It is an excellent resource. All of the techniques can be achieved by the casual crafter without difficulty. 

Cut and Fold Paper Textures is the most recent addition to an indispensable range of Paul Jackson papercraft design titles for Laurence King Publishing. If you have more than a passing interest in papercraft techniques, then you should assemble this library. They are my constant references – a pleasure each time I consult them. You can learn about all aspects of paper manipulation – pleating, folding, one-sheet pop-ups, how to design a box (this can get pretty sophisticated). A veritable Disneyland of paper manipulation techniques!
Paul Jackson papercraft library.

Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Free Printable Valentine Gift Box

Here's a free printable Valentine gift box - all-in-one bakery-box style construction, no gluing, and it all fits on to one piece of A4 card (tag included). To assemble the box, simply crease the folds, then slip the tabs in the slot.

The finished box is just the right size for a few sweets or a small trinket. Tie the tag through a slot in the lid.

Here's your freebie box: 
Valentine Gift Box
1 Print the box on to A4 photocopier card.
2 Score the fold lines. I use a fine-point embossing tool held against a metal straightedge. 
3 Crease the fold lines with a bone folder.
4 Assemble as shown above - tabs in slots. You have to fold back the tabs on the box base (one slot, two tabs!).

These are ideal to make up in quantity!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Origami Finger Puppets, by Muneji Fuchimoto. Review.

Origami Finger Puppets

Fun Origami for Pinkies, Pointers, and Thumbs

By Muneji  Fuchimoto

Quarry Books 2016

Paperback: 64-page book with 25 pack of sheets of origami paper

£10.99 UK/$16.99 US/$21.99 CAN

ISBN 978-1-63159-272-0

Star rating: *****

Yay! Full marks to this genius origami title, guaranteed to bring a smile to all concerned – gifter, recipient, makers and puppet show audience. Fun factor: 100%! There are 24 origami finger puppets to make, characters grouped into familiar stories and displayed on puppet theatre "sets". The puppets can either be popped on to fingers (they are folded pockets) or mounted on to straws or sticks for display.

Here’s a list of the contents and the casts of characters: Little Red Riding Hood (Little Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, The Big Bad Wolf, Tulip); The Three Little Pigs (Pig, The Wolf, House); The Little Mermaid (The Little Mermaid, The Prince, Castle); The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids (this might be The Billy Goats Gruff to you...)(Goat, The Wolf, House); Town Mouse and Country Mouse (Mouse, Flower); The Frog Prince (The Princess, Frog, Tulip, Castle); Happy Halloween (Pumpkin, Bat); Merry Christmas (Santa Claus, Fir Tree). The imaginative mix of animate and inanimate puppets is a hoot.

Now  -  a child will need an assist in folding these puppets – it’s a fun “together” activity. Most of the puppets are cleverly designed using a 64-square starting grid. Modular variations make the individual puppet personalties – just crease the folds into place. It is a fab system, and easier than it sounds. All the origami moves are clearly shown photographically, with superimposed fold lines and directional arrows. Excellent step-by-steps. The papers, back-of-book, are plain brights. Just draw in the features with a felt-tip, where needed, on the completed puppet.

The author of the book, Muneji Fuchimoto, is the president and art director of graphic design firm SCOG Design Inc. His adventure in origami design was triggered by his son's kindergarten project - so his light bulb moment was a labour of love - and it shows.

This book makes a lovely gift, or could even provide the theme for a child’s handicraft party.

Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.