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How to Make 3D Paper Art
Have you seen 3D paper art effects on scrapbook pages and wondered how they were achieved? Sometimes it takes very little to add a lot to a page or tab. It may look like you spent hours making a special item, when in reality all it took was a well-placed press or a little knowledge of how to shape your handmade or purchased ornaments.
Make 3D paper flowers
One of the best tools I know for shaping paper flowers is actually called a flower shaper. It looks like a plastic stick that is rounded at both ends. One end is tapered and the other end has a semi-circle shape that allows you to crumple the paper flower. When buying tools, also buy a soft mat (like a more forgiving mouse pad) to use when shaping the flowers.
If you have some basic paper punching tools (circles, hearts), then you’re in business for making shaped paper flowers. A flower with petals is actually made up of repeating shapes. Punch out a few hearts to form the petals, then place your flat heart-shaped piece of cardboard on the flower-forming mat.
Did you notice that the petals have a slight cup shape towards the center of the flower? Press the pointed end of the heart and roll the tool to add a cup shape.
Have you also noticed that many of the petals have a small lip on the edge or a rounded shape? You can create both with a few taps of your tool. Then simply do the same with all the other petals and assemble your flower, using glue to keep the petals in place. Sometimes it helps to drill a circle that will serve as a base for gluing the petals.
Make 3D sheets of paper
Need 3d leaves? Flat leaves can look good, but adding a 3D element makes them almost real. To make a simple leaf, punch out a heart shape and cut it down the middle lengthwise, then finish cutting the shape into the leaf. You will have a rounded end (the stem end) and a pointed end of the leaf.
If you want leaves with ragged edges, tear the edges or cut them with label scissors. If you want a colorful look now is the time to sponge your sheet with ink or spray paint or other treatments.
When dry, fold the sheet in half lengthwise, then crumple the cardboard sheet and flatten it slightly. Again use your paper tool and pad to form a cup shape at the rounded end and maybe curl the top of the leaf slightly. You can also draw the veins and leaf stem line and/or edges with ink. I like to use gold ink on the edges of many of my leaves. Then make as many sheets as you like and add them to your card or layout.
If you compare these sheets to flat sheet projects, the difference can be startling.
Cut him off
Another way to add dimension to layouts and maps is the quilling technique. for those who haven’t tried it, it looks very impressive, but it’s not hard to do. Gobe shapes are made from thin strips of paper wrapped tightly or loosely around a needle-like shape. There are also quilling trays to help keep the coils you make the same size so you can make accurate ‘building blocks’ for your ornaments.
The end of the paper strip is either anchored down while the coil is taut or the coil is allowed to relax and the loose end is taped when it is finished unwinding. You’ll get a better fit if you tear the end of your strip of paper because the torn end adheres more invisibly than a straight cut. You can buy quilling tools or simply start with a quilling needle pushed into a cork and use the cork as a handle as you wrap thin strips of paper around the needle. You can buy special packs of quilling paper, although I have heard of people using thin paper that is run through a shredder for some of their projects. Personally, I find the shredder makes the paper a bit too wide for card decorating, but you might like the effect, especially on a 12″ x 12″ scrapbook layout.
Feather ornaments can be made by repeating certain shapes. For example, a basic coil can make a flower. All you need is a yellow coil for the center of the flower, then five coils in a different color for the petals. If you squeeze one side of the coil, you will have a leaf shape. If you pinch both sides of the coil, you will have a double pointed shape. There are many more shapes that you can learn to make the decorations you want. And you can build all kinds of shapes from feathered components, from animals to buildings to food and just about anything!
Another effective way to add 3d elements to your projects is to add a 3d recycled element to the mix. Has your quill lost a feather? Rubbish with him! Is there an interesting insert inside the box? Make sure it’s exactly what you’re looking for with a specific layout. Do you have old packing boxes? Open one up and see if the corrugated cardboard inside inspires you to make a decoration out of it. There is so much you can add to recycled materials.
Tape, material and more
I’m sure you know how to use ribbon on a page or card. Stick it on with a piece of double-sided tape, right? Yes, it adds a bit of a 3d element, but you can do a lot more with ribbon. You’ve probably already tied bows on a greeting card or schedule. But have you pleated it, sewn it over the pleats, looped it or twisted it? Did you gather it up and use a ruffle to wind it into a flower shape held together by the button center? How about tying knots at the end of a bunch of ribbon, then bundling the bunch together and adding it to your project?
Ribbons can also mimic flower stems. Experiment with ribbon, string, rope and leather. Try using mesh or other pieces of material to add interest. Use a piece of material from a special dress or room furniture to add value to the item you are dealing with. Use it as a background for a photo, gathered, tied or crumpled – the choice is limited only by your imagination.
Another beautiful 3d element can be added with textural paints or plaster (colored or otherwise). Apply paint to an object and use various objects to ‘work’ it such as spatulas, brushes, a fork, a toothpick, a cotton swab, the tip of a hairpin. Use whatever you think will make an interesting texture. Dab it with an old hairbrush or toothbrush. Add beads, buttons, sequins or crystals to it. Add small clams. Put on some glitter. Have fun! You will create something truly original and interesting to add as a background for your projects.
Remember that the Cuttlebug or Big Shot dry embossing machines for cardboard. Make it even more interesting by sanding the edges of the relief patterns, or with chalk, or by running an ink pad over them, or by painting and removing some of the paint with a tissue before it dries completely. Crumple the paper and smooth it again.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to experiment and step out of your comfort zone a little (or a lot) to add some beautiful 3D paper art to your handmade paper repertoire.
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