Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ironing Kirigami Papercuts

Many people have asked me how to safely flatten their kirigami snowflakes once they are cut.  Since I am preparing a gaggle of tiny kirigami ornaments for a holiday show, let me demonstrate what I do.

Since kirigami is folded as it is being created, the finished product will be heavily creased.  This is OK if you are doing it for fun and will be taping them to windows for holiday decorations.  But if you want to frame your work or display it more neatly, it will have to be pressed.

Papercuts are very delicate, so you never want to place an iron directly on the paper. You are more likely to tear it than scorch it.  Open your papercut and place it on a piece of heavy white cardstock paper. (Don't use colored paper.  You know why.)   Press the folds open with your fingers, dabbing instead of smoothing. Then cover your work with another piece of white cardstock.

Now you are ready to use heat to press your work flat.  I use a commercial dry mount press, set on medium heat for about five minutes.

You can use a household iron with these caveats:

1. You must press on a hard, flat surface.  Do not use an ironing board or your work will warp.  You will need something as a slight (though not too cushy) barrier between your hard surface and the paper.  This is mostly to absorb some of the heat.   I recommend using a layer of heavy woven wool or felt - or go to a thrift store and find an old, dense woolen army blanket, cut off a large square, and use that as a cushion between your table or counter and your cardstock. ( Be careful. Don't iron on a surface that could be damaged by heat.)

2. Place the cardstock with your papercut on the wool and press straight down.  Do not slide the iron over the paper or use a swirling motion.  This will cause the cardstock to shift slightly and you could be pressing wrinkles into your work.

3. Never use steam!  Make sure there is no water in your iron and the steamer is turned off.  Use a hot setting but make sure it is dry.

When taking your work off the white cardstock, try not to pick it up with your fingers.  Instead, let it slide off one piece of paper onto the next surface.

 Now your papercut is ready to be mounted, framed, laminated, or hung.

Be brave.  Have fun!

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