By Jeff LaBonte

Making paper snowflakes has been a popular winter craft for as long as, well, as long as there has been paper and snow.  A couple of years back, for reasons long forgotten, I got it in my mind that I wanted to cut out some of those really intricate paper snowflakes.  You know, the kind you see in Martha Stewart magazines.

There were plenty of hits when I Googled ‘paper snowflake patterns’.  Some were pretty cool.  A lot were just OK.  Most were kind of hard to print correctly on the paper.  And one, I think, gave me a virus.Snow2

Then I came across www.daves-snowflakes.com and I was in snowflake nirvana.

Dave Stredulinsky has been designing and creating paper snowflakes with his family for years.  According to his web site (which is a bit of a thowback to a ‘simpler’ internet era, but it works), Dave’s mother would gather the family around their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and make snowflakes, which they would use to decorate the tree. The tradition has continued and Dave’s website now boasts an archive of over 500 snowflake patterns.  Dave’s site offers several free patterns.  He also has some patterns designed for kids (or less patient adults), so this really can be a fun family activity.

I contacted Dave last week after my family had our first snowflake cutting session of the season.  I asked if he would mind if we reprinted some of his free samples on our site.  Dave agreed, and he graciously gave us permission to share some of the other patterns from his site with our AMD readers.  So each week, we’ll provide a kids’ snowflake and an adult snowflake, right through December.  Here’s this week’s selection to get you started.  The first is good for older children and adults, while the second is appropriate for children who can use reasonably sharp scissors.

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Note – You’ll need Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader to view these patterns. 

You could keep occupied for quite a while with just the free snowflake patterns.  But if you get hooked, you can receive a  year’s access to Dave’s website and all the patterns for about $12.  If you would also like a CD with all 500+ images and patterns, the cost is $21.50 which also includes a 1 year subscription. If you have children, this is well worth the investment, trust me.  And if you are at all crafty yourself, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck, too.

A few tips from Dave’s website and from my own experience:

  • Use sharp scissors.  I use a larger scissors to cut away large areas of paper, and a smaller, very sharp set for the detail work.  I purchased a set of kirigami scissors (another paper-cutting art form) that work well.  I sometimes use an X-acto knife to trim away any frayed edges and clean up the final snowflake.
  • Use thinner paper, especially for patterns requiring more than three folds.  Regular copy paper (20lb for example) I find to be too hard to cut for anything more than 3 folds. Use unlined notebook paper, for example.
  • If you feel really ambitions, you can get foil-backed paper from craft stores.  We also used wrapping paper one year which worked OK, but you have to trace the pattern onto the paper, or create your own pattern.
  • Don’t rush.  Some of the patterns take time, and the results are amazing.  Put on some music, get some coffee, tea or cocoa, gather round the table and spend a leisurely afternoon working on it.
  • BE CAREFUL unfolding the snowflake when you are finished cutting.  Because of the folding and cutting, edges tend to stick together.  It’s frustrating when you complete the intricate cutting only to rip the finished product trying to unfold it!

If you’re like my family, you’re going to end up with an awful lot of snowflakes.  Be creative!  There are all kinds of uses for them actually.  The obvious choice is to hang them on windows.  You can use tape, but peel them down carefully if you hope to keep them another year.  You can also use the mounting tack available at many stores in the adhesives area. Make snowflakes on different colored paper, to add some flare.

Tie a piece of thread and use them to decorate your Christmas tree.  You can glue them to card stock and make your own greeting cards.  You can use some decoupeur on a vase or plate, and create some cool custom decoupage gifts.

Thanks again to Dave Stredulinsky not only for his allowing us to share these patterns, but for sharing all these great patterns.  Check out his site for more information such as ‘what makes a snowflake a snowflake versus a star?’  I hope you’ll enjoy this activity as much as we have!