I am lucky, blessed, to have a great many talented friends. But my favourite recently, the one I am most jealous of... is Melissa.
Melissa does the most beautiful papercuts over at Holmes-made. Stephen and I are lucky enough to own a bespoke piece of work from her, that was commissioned as a wedding anniversary gift for us.
She has been so inspiring for me recently that when I was faced with a decidedly boring and blank living room window to decorate, I decided to mix a traditional Waldorf transparencies with Melissa's beautiful papercutting techniques.
Today, I'm going to show you how I made...
I've used a mixture of techniques here, so that you can pick and choose which ones your children will be able to attempt (or yourself!).
So, first off, we're going to need black card, a scalpel/craft knife, tissue paper, contact paper, Sharpies/felt tips/crayons, glitter and glue. I used mount board which has the benefit of being thick and sturdy... and the disadvantage of being thick and a pain in the ass to cut through. You could just as easily use cardboard or even paper. Cut it to the size you want. I made the Tomten A4-ish and the others A3.
Let's do the stag first...
Next, we're going to draw on the BACK of our mount board (or whatever you're using). We'll need a wavy line marking the 'frame' of the drawing and then a design. You're going to draw whatever design you like, as simple or as complex as your heart desires, but do remember that the more intricate it is, the more difficult it's going to be to cut out.
I chose a stag, pausing daintily in a winter landscape. Perhaps, for the more cynical among you, he is pausing, hiding from a hunter. For me, however... well... I like to think he's admiring a particularly pretty snowflake.
Up next, Cutting Out. This is the tough part. You WILL need to do this on a cutting mat, so that you don't damage your work surface. They are easy enough to find in your local craft shop, along with the craft knives, one of which you will need for this step.
I'm sure I don't need to remind you that these blades are SHARP! This is not something young children can do, although older ones with adequate supervision may enjoy it. Whether your children are dextrous and mature enough to manage this task, that's a judgement call only you can make. As Ru is only three, I figured it was probably best to supply him with a particularly large stack of toast and hope that that held his attention long enough for me to finish this!
The next few photographs will show you the process of me cutting out my handsome deer. Use your craft knife carefully (CAREFULLY!) and just take your time.
I did the outline of the frame first, then cut away large sections that weren't needed. I then moved on to doing the small details, such as his antlers and tail. The final picture shows the finished cut-out.
It was at this point that the toast ceased to capture Ru's attention. He wandered over to me and announced "Why is Bambi on your paper, Mama?!" That's right, I can't help but feel a bit proud of myself when I draw something and my Small Boy recognises it. It doesn't work the opposite way though - cue me asking him "Wow! That's a lovely painting of a... a... well, it's a... Well, why don't you tell me about your painting?"
We now move on to the tissue paper part (this is where the Waldorf transparencies inspiration comes in!).
This is where you can let your creativity run away with you!
I simply layered white and varying shades of blue tissue paper on the BACK of the mount board, sticking down each layer around the edge of the frame with pva glue.
From here, it's simply a matter of letting it dry, and then fixing it to a window, allowing Mr Sunlight to do his job, or popping some candles behind it to illuminate it. And because I'm a sparkle-kinda girl at heart, I sprayed the front of mine with hairspray and liberally twinkled it with silver glitter. Just gives it a little somethin' somethin'. (You can't actually SEE the glitter in the dark, but at least it'll shimmer in the daytime!)
I might have also been a little overenthusiastic with my glitter because when Steven saw the floor, he sighed, said "You do know you've got glitter all over the... Never mind. Just... clean it up." in the brow-beaten tone of a man who knows he's going to be finding glitter on his clothes for the next four days.
Doesn't he look handsome?
Next up is the quiet Winter landscape. This one is MUCH more toddler-friendly! Simply cut out a frame, cover one side with contact paper and then get your Little to add glitter and torn up tissue paper.
And finally, the happy little Tomten. Again, cut out your frame and glue on a layer of tissue paper. Then, draw whatever design you like on it. I used wax crayons, but pencils and felt tips would be just as effective. I drew mine on my light box so that I could see exactly how it was going to look in our window, but that's not essential. You could also trace an image and let your child colour it in. (Side note: I found my Tomten picture to use as inspiration from this artist on DeviantArt)
As with most of my Crafty Tutorials, these are easily adaptable to other seasons or subjects. These would also be AMAZING as A1 size backgrounds for Seasons Tables (guess what one of the new products I'm going to be stocking at MamaPixie is going to be?)
I have plans for a few more, a couple will be scenes from The Story Of The Snow Children by Sybille Von Olfers, (including one for Kendal and Ava) and then one will be a large background for our Winter table, both of which I shall be adding pictures of to this post as I complete them!
So, get on with it! Don't forget to post photos of your completed window transparencies over on our Crafty by Nurture Facebook page, and check out more of Melissa's beautiful papercuts here.