Wonderland Tutorials: Paper Crafts

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

This post will be two tutorials in one. Because that’s how much I love you.

White Rabbits

To have a good Mad Tea Party, you have to get into Wonderland, right?

And how do you get into Wonderland?

You follow a white rabbit. Of course.

Last year when we threw a Mad Tea for my sister’s graduation party we held it at a picnic area behind our church, out of sight of the parking lot, so I made white rabbits to lead the guests across the field to show everyone where to go. Making them couldn’t be simpler:

You will need white cardstock, a printer, scissors, glue, and skewers like these–look for them in the grilling section or with the kitchen utensils at your grocery store.

Download a rabbit silhouette. I used these–click on each image to download the full size!

Download one or both of the silhouettes, size them to fit on a single sheet of paper, then print them out on heavy white cardstock. Print two sheets for each rabbit that you want to make. Then just cut out your rabbits, sandwich a skewer in between the two sides, and glue.

Then stick your white rabbits in the grass leading to your tea party, and wait for the guests to arrive!

Chessboard Sandwich Skewers

One of my favorite touches at my Mad Tea Party was the chessboard of tea sandwiches–it looks awesome, and it was so simple to do!

I used ordinary white bread and a dark rye bread–you can use any bread as long as you have two colors!  I cut each piece into quarters–in retrospect I wish that I’d also trimmed off the crusts, but I was in a hurry.

You’ll also need a large, square tray–if you want to make a full chessboard like mine you’ll need a tray large enough to hold an 8 by 8 square. We didn’t have a square tray large enough and I was just going to set my sandwiches out on a smaller tray that was 5 by 5 sandwiches, and put my extra chesspeople on the side like cocktail skewers. Then my dad went into his magic workshop (the garage) and returned with a beautiful custom tray, just for me, cut to just the right size. Is he the best, or is he the best? I think both are correct.

But the important thing for this project is, of course, the chesspeople skewers. You’ll need toothpicks, white cardstock, glue or double-sided tape (I used glue, but tape might be less messy!), a printer, and this downloadable papercraft chess set, created by T. John Peacock, inspired by the classic Tenniel illustrations:

click on the image to go to the download

Print out the chess set on white cardstock, then cut out each piece and fold it over the end of a toothpick, gluing (or taping) it in place.

Now you’re ready to play with your food!


Craft Challenge: Bonus January Pictures!

February 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

The lovely Sharon sent me pictures of her (and her husband, the handsome Jason) with her January craft items!  I’m pretty much thrilled to pieces that Sharon likes her crafts (and really relieved that everything arrived safely).

Thanks, Sharon!

Craft Challenge: January — This is how I made it

February 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

There are lots of tutorials out there about how to make a silhouette portrait. I mean really, lots, so I feel a little silly putting up my own tutorial.  However, the tutorials that I read all varied in their methods, so I thought it would be worth it to explain just what I did (and what I will do differently next time)

First I found the picture (obviously).  You want a simple picture that shows the person’s profile, and if there’s a good contrast between the person and the background it will make your life much easier.  A closed or slightly open mouth is better than an open mouth or a really big smile (because those expressions don’t translate well into a silhouette).  An interesting hairstyle is a plus. You can take pictures specifically for the project, but you can also look through pictures that you already have and look for good profile shots (especially if you want a silhouette of a child who won’t hold still for a portrait session- -it might be easier to get sneaky profile shots while they’re engaged in something else than attempt to stand them against a wall).

photography by (once a spark) photography


Once I had chosen the picture and cropped it, I uploaded it to Flickr and edited it in Picnik with the ‘pencil sketch’ setting–if you’re using Picnik, go to the ‘Create’ tab, click on ‘Effects’ in the toolbar, then scroll down the menu on the left until you find ‘pencil sketch’.  If you aren’t using Picnik then check your favorite picture editing software–most will have a similar sketch tool.  Or you could skip this step.  It’s not essential, it just makes it a little easier to trace the outline in the next step.

I sized the image to fill a regular piece of paper and printed it out.  Now, this made my silhouette large enough to require an 11×14 frame.  Then I had to hunt and hunt for a frame that would fit (this would have been easier if I had been willing to settle for a rectangular frame).  I really recommend choosing your frame before you cut your silhouette and sizing the image to fit.

I taped a piece of tracing paper on top of my printed image and then just used a pencil to trace around the outside of the picture.  This was my chance to experiment with the image–this is when you have to make decisions about what to include.  I used Jason’s collar and Sharon’s necklace as handy guides for where to end their necks, but I debated about how much detail to add.  Should I try to cut out Jason’s shirt collar and tie? Sharon’s veil? The flowers that were in Sharon’s hair? Her necklace?  In the end I decided that keeping it very simple would have the best look.  The biggest challenge was Sharon’s shoulder, because of the angle, so I added a couple of tendrils of hair.

I also added their eyelashes–this is something that all of the tutorials I read agreed on.  Most people’s eyelashes don’t actually stick out far enough to be visible beyond the bridge of their nose when they’re in profile, but most silhouette portraits include them anyway.  Silhouettes without eyelashes look a little strange to me, and have less personality, so I just marked the level of their eyes when I was tracing the silhouette and cut a whisp of eyelash. 

When I was satisfied with my outline I removed the printed picture and looked at my traced outline alone, to make sure that it looked okay on its own, before using masking tape to secure it to my black paper.  I used black scrapbook cardstock from my local craft store and a fresh exacto knife. And a piece of very thick cardboard as a cutting surface.  And a steady hand.  I just cut through the tracing paper and into the scrapbook paper beneath, following my pencil lines slowly but firmly (so as not to tear the tracing paper and ruin everything forever).  It took about thirty minutes.  For some of the details–such as Jason’s hair–it was easier to cut beyond what I needed into the area outside the silhouette (NOT into the silhouette) to get a sharper point, if that makes sense.

When I’d gotten all the way around my outline I removed the tracing paper, and followed the cut lines that I’d made to make sure that they all went all the way through.  It was hard to gauge through the tracing paper whether I was cutting deeply enough–it was also hard to make my cuts very clean (a ragged cut means a fuzzy edge to your paper).  Next time I’ll either make shallow cuts through the tracing paper just to score the black paper, and then remove the tracing paper and go back to cut the silhouette out all the way OR I will transfer the outline onto the black paper with carbon paper or white pencil, so that I can cut through only one layer and really see what I’m doing.

Also, because my silhouette was joined at the nose, I had to be careful not to bend it.  I made the mistake of cutting out one head entirely before cutting the second–I should have left the center of the image, the faces, for last, and cut out everything else before doing their features.  It would have made things much easier.

Having the faces joined at the nose also meant that I couldn’t pick the silhouette up–if I were cutting a single profile I think I would pick it up and cut with scissors (one tutorial I read mentioned cuticle scissors, but I think that any small, sharp craft scissors would work).  And when it was time to turn the silhouette over so that could attach it to the background, I sandwiched it between two pieces of paper, the way that you would flip a cake.

My background was just a piece of Bristol board, which is like a heavy cardstock. You can find it in the art supplies section of your local craft store, or (if you silhouette is small enough) you could just get a piece of scrapbook paper.  Or a piece of fabric, or wallpaper, or anything else that strikes your fancy.  I stuck to white, because I wanted this silhouette to be very classic (and to always go with Sharon’s decor, no matter what colors she uses in her home!).  I turned my silhouette over and applied double-sided scrapbook tape to the back, then laid the Bristol board down on top of it (instead of picking it up and setting it on the Bristol board) and voila!

Craft Challenge: January – This is for Sharon!

February 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’m really pleased with my craft for my January victim–and in case you missed it, the fabulous Sharon answered a few questions about herself in this post! You can also learn more about Sharon and her wedding journey–pre- and post-wedding–at her blog, Bride Sans Tulle.

But what did she make for Sharon? I hear you wondering. Wonder no more! It is time for the Big Reveal!

….yeah, ignore my weird squinting-in-the-sun face. Don’t even look at that part of the picture. It’s not important.

Instead, look at this!

I love traditional silhouette portraits–I think that they’re beautiful, classic, and elegant (all words that also apply to Sharon), and I’ve been wanting to make one for a while. Originally I thought about doing two separate silhouettes as a pair, and starting looking through Sharon’s wedding pictures for profile shots, which is where I found the perfect shot of Sharon and Jason in profile together:

Sharon’s beautiful wedding pictures, by the way, are by (once a spark) photography

It was too gorgeous and adorable. How could I resist?

In the original picture, Sharon and Jason’s noses overlap, and I considered separating them a little so that they would be two independent silhouettes. Then I changed my mind, because I am sentimental and I liked the symbolism of their wedding portrait being cut from a single piece of paper.

The hardest part of this project was actually finding an oval frame large enough for my 9 1/5″ by 10 1/2″ silhouette–I finally found this 11X14 frame at Michael’s. Here is my pro-tip for you: If you plan to frame a project, keep standard framing sizes in mind as you work on it! And if possible, buy the frame first.

And if you are bound and determined to find an oval frame (as I was–I was going to be heartbroken if I had to settle for a rectangle! I think silhouettes are at their best in oval frames), I am here to tell you that your best bet is Michael’s.  They were the only oval frames that I found, so thank goodness they were perfect!

…I was also paranoid that the frame would break in between Texas and California, so I wedged it into its box with as much padding as I could fit. Let’s just say that a bunch of tissue paper, an entire roll of bubble wrap, and some packing popcorn was involved, as well as enough tape to subdue a legion of five year olds.

Not that I would use tape to control a five year old. Of course not.

That would be unethical.

And a waste of tape.

Moving on….

Sharon and I met online through our love of books (and the influence of a certain person named Sophia), and spent years exchanging emails and letters. We met in person for the very first time almost a year ago, in February 2010, and during the visit Angela and I got to go wedding dress shopping with Sharon.  We got to see her try one what would be ‘the dress’.

Meeting Sharon in person for the first time, February 2010

We met in person for the second time when I had the privilege and the blessing of going to her wedding in August–one of The Best Weddings Ever (and not only did we go to the wedding, we got to be there for an entire weekend of celebration leading up to the wedding, and join the big, loving community of people surrounding Sharon and Jason. One of the Best Weekends Ever).

Angela & Charis at Sharon's wedding! August 2010 (Kay is hiding on the other side of Sharon)

I suppose it isn’t a big surprise that my inspiration for Sharon’s craft came from her wedding.

However, Sharon happened to mention that she doesn’t look good in hats.

Hm, I thought.

That sounds like a challenge.

So I also sent her a hat:

Sharon's hat, modeled by me. At 3am, right after I finished it so that I could put it into the box and mail that sucker.

The pattern is the ‘Proposal Beret‘ by Belle Dee Designs

Happy January, Sharon!

love, Charis


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