My obsession with Day of the Dead led me to the tradition of making papel picado, which is tissue paper garland. It is relatively labor intensive making all of those tissue paper cuts, but since tissue paper is so thin you can make 8-12 of them at a time. Score! In line with Cindy’s Embellished Watercolors and Nanner’s Treasure Keepers, we are going to use papel picado techniques to make some super simple tissue paper ornaments.
- Tissue paper
- Printed pattern (or your own silhouette-style pattern)
- X-Acto or craft knife
- Bamboo skewers, toothpicks, craft sticks, or small twigs
- Glue stick
I have been really sort of consumed by hearts with keyholes and skeleton keys, so I chose that as my original design. I thought maybe there might be people out there who wanted something more traditional, so for you I’ve made a template using Cindy’s Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is all about being on Christmas ornaments.
Click the image to download the PDF of the pattern and print ‘er up! Alternatively, you can use any silhouette you find/design, just make sure there is a solid bar at the top and bottom at least 1/2-inch wide! A simple Google image search will bring up all sorts of wacky stuff if my wacky stuff isn’t wacky enough for you. Really, I understand. I’ll find a way to carry on.
Okay I’m done being verklempt over here. The first thing you want to do is cut out your patterns, leaving at least 1/4 inch of white all around. Fold your tissue paper until you have a small rectangle that is big enough for your pattern and then staple your pattern to the tissue paper like so:
You only want to staple in the white border on the outside of the pattern itself, otherwise you’ll leave ugly holes that will turn into ugly tears in your tissue paper. You’ll cut off the staples at the end, and this will hold everything together. Use a lot of staples. I used two 12 x 18 inch sheets of tissue paper and ended up with 12 copies of my design. I think I’ll turn the extras into thank you cards to stick in with the next 20 orders. Want one? Go buy something!
Using your X-Acto or craft knife, carefully cut out all of the white bits on the inside of your design. You’ll need to use medium-heavy pressure since you’re cutting through 12 layers of tissue paper, but not finger-breaking pressure. Make sure you flip your tissue bundle over to see how well your cuts are carrying over to the back. Make sure you use something other than your lap to cut this out on. Don’t use your friend’s back either. Seriously. No one wants lacerations for Christmas!
It is WAY easier if you cut out the smaller fiddly bits before you cut out the big swooping bits. I know you’re going to be tempted to cut out those big white chunks. Don’t do it! Resist! Get all those tinies out of the way first while the biguns hold the rest of the piece together. Take it one little white chunk at a time, go slow, don’t rush it, you’ll be fine. When you’re popping out your cut-out tissue, pull gently, use tweezers if you have to, and never never tug. If it doesn’t come out, flip it over. It will usually be stuck on the back at a corner where your cut didn’t go all the way through. Free it with the tip of your knife.
Once you’re all done, give yourself a high five, flex your fingers 20 times since they’re probably cramping, and use a pair of scissors, rotary cutter, or ruler and X-Acto to cut the outside border of the designs. I usually remove the top and bottom first followed by the outside edges. In this case, since I did two designs at once, I cut them apart last and then separated my bits of tissue into one big huge pile of top hatted love.
To turn these into ornaments, I used bamboo barbecue skewers. I cut off the pointy end and then cut each one in half using my Dremel. I later discovered that a pair of wire cutters works way better and is way easier, especially since the Dremel is in the freezing cold garage and I’m all warm and toasty in here. Use whatever kind of stick you like – if you dig a more natural look, snag some dried grapevines or willow switches and go to town. I gave the top border a good coating of glue and then quickly rolled it around my stick. Repeat for the bottom side and give the glue a minute to dry.
Trim your stick if necessary and tie on ribbon, yarn, or, in my case, wrapped copper wire. I like some wrapped copper wire. It’s my favorite friend. Once that’s done, all that’s left is to hang it!
If you liked this project, Cindy’s watercolor ornaments, Nanner’s secret keepers, or Ann’s as-yet-unnamed ornaments, make them! Come on, we dare you! Post your results in our forum by January 6th, and you could be our featured artist and have the place of honor (har) on our home page for the entire month! The really important thing, though, is that you will also win this fabulous canvas by our own Cindy Jo!
HEY! You need ornaments? Too lazy to make some? WE GOT ORNAMENTS! We also have art for your walls, art for your dolls, and art for your. Um. Stalls? Yeah, you should totally put those in the bathroom.