Fun themed snowflakes

Fun themed snowflake templates can be found online.                                              (Heather Burns photo)

As the last of the Christmas decorations are safely packed away until next year, a sub­tle somberness seems to take over the house come mid-January.

The shiny brightness of our holiday decor helped to camouflage the darkness of the upcoming New England winter months, and now we are faced with the reality that a long, cold winter is upon us.

Perhaps because of the pandemic, this year the winter blues may be looming in our minds and spirit more than usual.

While the cold, wintery weather continues outside, you and your family can enjoy a magical, winter wonderland inside by creating a beautiful blizzard of paper snowflakes to lift your spirits and blow away the winter blues.

Making paper snowflakes is an inexpensive and fun craft project for all ages.

The skill set used for creating paper snowflakes is that of the ancient Ja­panese art form known as Kirigami.

Often confused with the more popular art form of Origami, both Kirigami and Origami incorporate the use of beautiful papers and folding techniques. However, Origami design is based on folding one or more sheets of paper to create a design without the use of glue, tape, or scis­sors.

Kirigami is based on the concept of symmetry, us­ing folding and cutting to create a symmetrical pa­per design. The use of glue and tape is also an accepted practice in the art of Kirigami.

The name Kirigami comes from the Japanese words Kiru (to cut) and Kami (paper), and was first used in ancient Ja­panese temples as a way to make of­ferings to the Gods.

By the 17th century, Ki­rigami was a recognized art form used throughout Asian cultures.

Although used in Asia for many centuries, the popularity of Kirigami didn’t reach the United States until the 1960s and 70s.

While Kirigami may not be as well known as Ori­gami, it has found its place in modern day American life.

Kirigami style greeting cards have become all the rage in the past few years. This artform of paper cutting is practiced by both local crafters and big box card companies like Hall­mark.

Kirigami is also a popular embellishment for scrapbooks, framed artwork, gift wrap, and home decor projects.

The most recognized use of Kirigami is often part of elementary school curriculums, with the making of paper snowflakes and paper doll chains.

Not only does the teaching of Kirigami introduce important aspects of Ja­panese culture, it also is a wonderful way to work on developing fine motor skills, scissor skills, visual motor skills, planning skills, and the use of symmetry.

In order to transform your home into a blizzard of paper artwork, all you need is paper, scissors, tape and string.

The secret to symmetry paper snowflakes is in the folding.

Start with a square piece of paper, and fold it in half diagonally. You will now have a triangle.

Fold the triangle in half to create a smaller triangle. Then fold one third of the triangle to the front and one third to the back, lining up the sides to create a long, thin triangle with two uneven points at one end, and a point that is the actual center of the paper at the opposite end.

Trim off the two uneven points to create a smooth edge.

Now you are ready to cut into the folds.

Experiment by cutting dif­ferent shapes, sizes and numbers of cuts, but be sure not to cut all the way across the triangle.

Carefully unfold your snowflake when your cutting is completed to reveal a surprise paper masterpiece.

Gently smooth out your fold lines, tape string to your snowflake and hang from the ceiling, a door frame or window.

Just like in nature, no two snowflakes will be alike. However, if you are looking to make a more structured design, paper snowflake templates are available online, many with fun patterns like animals, sea creatures or dinosaurs.

This January, cut out the boredom of the winter blues with a fun, creative and inexpensive art project by practicing the an­cient Japanese skill of Ki­rigami.

For printable animal or other themed paper snow­flake templates, visit www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/how-to-make-animal-paper-snowflakes.

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