Saturday, December 5, 2009

Keeping Your Papercuts Alive

Many people ask me how I preserve papercuts to make them last. As paper is so delicate and vunerable to changes in humidity and sunlight, it is important to know how to care for this folk art.

Years ago, when cutting paper snowflakes was only a seasonal family activity for me, we taped our "bare naked" snowflakes to windows as holiday decorations. The flakes in the photo below are naked and taped to a dining room cabinet.

(Note: Instead of attaching tape to the top of the snowflake, place the tape within the design so the sticky part covers some open spaces. This way the tape won't show and mar the effect.) The bare flakes only last a season or two that way. Our tradition was to gather them up in the Spring and burn them in the fireplace to celebrate the return of the Sun and warm weather.

A few years ago I got the idea to laminate them to make them last longer. Now I laminate most of my mandalas and hearts so they will be able to be hung in a window. This way they last for years.



Some others, usually the larger pieces, I frame for hanging on walls. These must be put behind glass to protect them from moisture and heat. I don't use glue or tape. Instead I press the glass firmly against the paper to hold it in place. Kept out of the sun, a framed papercut will last for years this way. If you want to glue it to a colored backing, dab tiny amounts in only three or four places so the dimensionality of the papercut will show.


Cutting paper can be a fun, mentally stimulating, yet relaxing activity. I heartily recommend it!

Another question answered:
Q: What are mandalas and are they a Christmas tradition?
A: We used to call these papercuts Snowflakes but real snowflakes are always six-sided and most of the ones I cut are eight-sided so it is more appropriate to call them mandalas, which are circular designs used in many cultures as symbolic representations of the Universe, the world, or ... whatever.

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