Making the chop!

When I chat to fellow Scrapbookers, there seems to be one technique above all others that divides us memory makers – hand cutting! It seems we either love it, creating numerous embellishments and details from patterned paper, or simply avoid the “fussy cutting” like the plague!

Personally, it’s a technique I love and couldn’t survive (scrapbooking wise!) without. When you start thinking about how a piece of paper could be hand cut, a world of possibilities (and endless original embellishments) are suddenly within your reach – patterned paper can be far more than a flat, dimensionless matt for your photos.

This month I decided to work with some gorgeous Authentique papers. They really are fabulous – a very heavy weight, luxurious feeling paper with an appealing, slightly dimpled texture. If you like My Minds Eye, you will love these!

When I clapped eyes on the beautiful Uncommon range, I knew I had to get my hand-cutting mitts on a sheet of Unique….

Sadly as 12×12 is a little small to wallpaper my living room with (!!!)- I excitedly made plans to hand cut those beautiful roses to create some dimensional blooms for my scrapbook.

The main thing that appears to put people off hand cutting is that is is just too fiddly – well that needn’t be the case. First of all, the right pair of scissors makes a big difference. A small pair, with sharp, pointed  and slightly curved blades make getting into small spaces easy. They needn’t be expensive, I picked mine up from the stationary aisle at the supermarket a few years ago and they have served me ever since:

Spring loaded scissors, although more expensive, are also highly recommended and require less effort to create the cutting motion, so are great for tired hands or those with dexterity issues.
I began creating my rose embellishment by cutting one of the large motifs from the paper:

It looks really intricate and fussy doesn’t it?! Truth be told – it wasn’t! And so here is the most important lesson in hand cutting:

Pick Your Battles!

If something looks too fiddly or complicated or delicate, just leave it off your cutting – just chop it straight off! Who is going to know (or even care) that you did not stick to the detailed image exactly?! So many people are put off hand cutting as they think it is too intricate and time consuming, but you can make it as intricate as you choose.

Here’s a shot of the pattern paper intact – the thicker black line is the cutting path I chose; the coloured parts are what I kept, and all the grey areas outside of the black line is what I ignored. Any bits of the design that were too fiddly I simply didn’t bother cutting.

Once cut out, I began giving my flowers  bit of dimension. Working on the stems and leaves, I curled them over the blade of my scissors (a bit like you do with curling ribbon) to give them a curved appearance, holding the parts I wanted to remain flat tightly between my fingers so I could get my scissors in closely to the leaves.

Once I was happy with the stems and leaves, I began giving the roses a spot of 3D treatment. The beauty of a repeated pattern like the one on the Unique sheet is that you have several prints of the same image that you can use on top of each other to build depth, almost like decopage. But rather than simply layering up flat images with 3D foam, I took inspiration from the MLS Roll Ups I used last month, and set about creating more realistic floral shapes.

I began by roughly cutting one of the repeated rose shapes from my remaining paper.

Next I cut a rough spiral shape into it (that’s twice I’ve used the word “rough” – see, who’s been kidding us all this time that hand cutting had to be a fine art?!) and inked all the edges. This was made easier by gently pulling the spiral apart.

Then, starting from the outside and working inwards, I tightly rolled up my spiral. Squeezing it tightly as you go means it will eventually hold more of a swirling, rosebud-like shape – paper is surprisingly mouldable in ways like this.

I then let it uncurl slightly (or bloom!!) by leaving it on a flat surface.

Finally, I added some adhesive directly to the flat flower part of the hand cut section from earlier:

…..and stuck my curled centre on top. I repeated this process for the other two roses, until my embellishment was complete:

If you scroll back to the first image of the flat hand cut section, you’ll see the difference in dimension!!

Here’s my the finished article on my page, which uses other papers from the Uncommon range:

Click on any of the pictures to view a larger image

If hand cutting still seems a little daunting, note that I also hand cut doily shapes from the Original pattern paper and layered them together under my photo, and some strips of stamps from the Rare paper which I snipped from the sheet using a pinking shears for a stamp-like edge. It can be that simple!

I embellished my page using some lovely vellum butterflies and jewelled stick pins by Jenni Bowlin.

In the top right corner of my page, more of the butterflies flutter across the Gifted paper background, which I spattered with Pomegranate mist.

I added a few dots of Liquid Pearls as the butterflies flight path, and used them to create a heart frame around the subjects of my photo. To do this, I cut a heart template from ordinary A4 paper, and placed it over my photo,

then simply dotted the Liquid pearls all around the outside edge before carefully removing the paper:

Some sparkly Thickers completed the look of my feminine but glitzy page.

I hope that my post has given you a bit of inpsiration to unlock at the potential of your flat patterned papers with a spot of handcutting! It can be simple to do, and is always effective 🙂

Thank you for stopping by, as always xxx


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