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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 time to add a lot to a page or card. It looks like you’ve spent hours making something special when in reality, all it took was a few neat presses or a little knowledge of how to shape your handmade or store-bought ornaments.
Make 3D paper flowers
One of the best tools I know for shaping paper flowers is actually something called the Flower Shaping Tool. It looks like a plastic stick that is rounded at both ends. One end is tapered and the other end is semi-circular which allows you to crease your paper flower art. When you buy a tool, buy a soft mat (like a more forgiving mouse pad) to use when shaping your flowers.
If you have some basic paper punches (circles, hearts) you are in business to make shaped paper flowers. A flower with petals is actually made up of repeating shapes. Cut out several hearts to create the petals, then place the heart-shaped card stock on the flower shaping mat.
Have you noticed that the petals in the center of the flower are slightly smaller? Press the pointed end of the heart and roll the tool to add a cup-like shape.
Have you also noticed that many of the petals have a slight lip or rounded shape on the edge? You can create both with a few clicks of your tool. Then do the same with all the other petals and assemble your flower using glue to hold the petals in place. Sometimes it helps to draw a circle to act as a base for gluing the petals.
Make 3d paper leaves
Want some 3d leaves? Flat leaves can look great, but adding 3D elements to them makes them look almost real. To make a simple leaf, punch out a heart shape and cut lengthwise down the center, then finish by cutting the shape into the leaf. You will have a rounded end (stem end) and a pointed end of your leaf.
If you want ragged edge leaves, tear off the edges or cut with decal edged scissors. Now’s the time to sponge your page with ink or splash it with paints or other treatments if you want an interesting look.
Once dry, fold the sheet in half lengthwise, then crumple the card stock sheet and flatten it slightly. Again use your paper shaping tool and pad to create a cup-like shape on the rounded end, and maybe turn the tip of the leaf a bit. You can also draw leaf veins and stem lines and/or ink the edges. I like to use gold ink on the edges of many of my pages. Then make as many pages as you like and add them to your card or layout.
If you compare these leaves to projects with flat leaves, the difference can be surprising.
Another way to add dimension to layouts and cards is the quilling technique. For those who haven’t tried it, it looks very impressive, but it’s not too difficult to do. A quilled shape is created with thin strips of paper wrapped tightly or loosely around a needle. There are also quilling trays that will help keep the coils you make a uniform shape so you can make the perfect ‘building blocks’ for your ornament.
The end of the paper strip is either plowed down while the coil is tight, or the coil is allowed to relax and the loose end is clamped when uncoiling is complete. If you tear off the end of your paper strip you will get better adhesion because the torn end sticks more invisibly than straight cut paper. You can purchase quilling tools or simply start with a needle pushed into the cork and use the cork as a handle as you wrap thin strips of paper around the needle. You can buy special quilling paper packs, although I’ve heard of people using thin paper through a shredder for some of their projects. I personally find that the shredder card makes the paper a bit too wide for decoration, but you’ll love the effect, especially on a 12″ x 12″ scrapbook layout.
Quilled ornaments can be made by repeating certain shapes. For example, a basic coil can form a flower. All you need is a yellow coil for the center of the bloom, then five coils in another color for the petals. If you pinch one side of your coil, you get a leaf shape. If you pinch both sides of the coil, you get a double pointed shape. There are many shapes you can learn to make any ornament you want. And you can create all kinds of shapes with quilled elements, anything from animals to buildings to food!
Another effective way to add 3d elements to your projects is to add 3d recycled elements to the mix. Is your feather duster missing a feather? Scrap with it! Is there an interesting insert in the box? See if it’s what you’re looking for with a specific layout. Do you have any old packing boxes? Tear one off and see if the corrugated card inside inspires you to decorate it. You can add so much more with recycled materials.
Ribbons, materials and more
I’m sure you know how to use ribbon on a page or card. You stick it down 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 may have already tied a bow on a card or layout. But have you pleated it, sewn on pleats, twisted or curled it? Did you ruffle it and use the ruffle to wind a flower shape held together with a button center? How about tying a knot at the end of a bunch of ribbon and then tying the bunch together and adding it to your project?
Ribbons can also mimic stems for flowers. Experiment with ribbon and twine and cord and leather. Try mesh or other materials to add interest. Use a piece of material from a special dress or room furnishings to add value to the subject you’re scrapping. Use as a background for a photo, or combine or bind or rub – the choices are only limited by your imagination.
Another wonderful 3d element can be added with texture paints or gesso (colored or otherwise). Paint the object and use various objects to ‘work’ on it such as a spatula, paint brush, fork, toothpick, cotton bud, end of a bobby pin. Use whatever you think will make an interesting texture. Press it with an old hairbrush or toothbrush. Embed beads, buttons, sequins or crystals in it. Add some shells. Throw on some glitter. Have fun! You’ll make something really original and interesting to add as a background for your project.
Note that the Cuttlebug or Big Shot machine dry emboss card stock. Make it even more interesting by sanding the edges of the embossed designs, or chalking them, or swiping an ink pad over them or painting and removing some of the paint with a tissue before it’s completely dry. Crumple the paper and smooth it again.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to experiment and move a little (or a lot) outside of your comfort zone to add some beautiful 3d paper art to your handmade papercrafting repertoire.
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