Pretty Up a Party with Papercomments (38) October 26th, 2012
As a boy, I remember seeing a television show about Paris that featured, for a fleeting moment or two, a street artist doing hand-cut silhouette portraits of Parisian ladies in the gardens of the Tuileries. Using only a penny's worth of paper and small scissors, he created a beautiful picture in a matter of minutes (which he then sold for a few francs-not a bad mark up at the time). I immediately set to work trying to mimic his artistry only to discover that there was considerable skill involved in capturing a likeness of another person using only a cuticle scissor held tightly in my 10-year-old hand.
Nevertheless, once I started I never gave up cutting silhouettes. In the Midwest (where I grew up), Parisian ladies were difficult to come by, so I turned to my surroundings for inspiration. I thank all of my friends and relatives who, over the years, graciously accepted countless cut outs of cows, chickens, and flowers from me. While my skills may have improved (somewhat) since then, I still frequently return to nature as my subject.
As you'll see, I try to get my work out of the frames and off of the walls as often as possible. Take a look, and let me know what you think.
Tarting Up a Cake
To celebrate a friend's birthday, I recently baked her a cake and decorated it a ribbon of white paper wild flowers.
The party was a hit ,and the cake got photographed more than the guest of honor. The comment most often heard was, "How could you put so much work into something that's just going to get frosting on it and be ruined?" My answer was that only the back side got frosting on it (and even then, nothing that couldn't be wiped off) and the effect-the smiles from all who saw it-was worth an hour of my time.
Nothing's as Lovely as Fresh Cut Flowers
To carry the flower theme throughout the party, I also cut a slightly larger stand of flowers, which I then highlighted with watercolors. Be sure to notice that the flowers and stems abut, criss-cross, and overlap at regular intervals which lends strength to the piece and keeps the petals from flopping over, or "wilting on their stems." Keeping elements of your design connected to one another in this way also allows you to cut more slender and delicate looking stems.
Once your piece is painted and dry, add accordion-folds along the bottom edge to give it a zigzag base and help it stand upright. For my party, I used this piece as a beautiful decoration near the coffee service out on my porch.
Picnic by the Sea
In summer, one of my favorite pastimes is dining al fresco with friends. Be it near the shore, on a neighbor's patio, or on a New York rooftop, you can never go wrong by giving your table décor a little extra attention. One of my favorite (and quickest) ways to liven up a tabletop without splurging on fresh flowers or resorting to simple tealights is to cut a free-form decorative napkin ring.
To make this branch coral napkin ring, I used an 8-1/2 x11-inch sheet of bright red paper. Canson has a great palette of colors, but any colorful paper with a little body will suffice. I try to select a paper stock that has enough heft to stand up without wilting and yet is thin enough to comfortably cut with a craft knife.
My coral measures 6-1/2 x 9 inches, but you can make yours as large or as small as you like. I prefer cutting freehand since it allows for (the inevitable) mistakes. If you prefer, you may wish to download a reference photo or two from Google Image Search. (I searched for "coral.")
Important: Be sure to leave a lobe at the base of your branch (about the size of a quarter will do) and another lobe directly above it (as indicated in the areas circled in BLUE below.) These two pieces will form the bracket with which you will attach the coral to the napkin ring.
Score the upper lobe and fold it down so that it covers the bottom lobe. Using a craft knife, cut a single notch through both lobes from their centers down through their bottom edges. This notch is how you will attach the coral to the paper loop of the napkin ring itself.
Finally, use the remaining strip of red paper (1-1/4 x11 inches) for the napkin ring proper. Glue this strip-end to end-adding a single twist to make it a Möbius strip. The single twist provides a strong vertical edge onto which you can position the notch you cut into your branch coral.
I try to make all of my napkin rings different from each other. Don't be afraid to vary the size and shape and for a slightly less formal look you can even vary the color from orange and yellow, to violet and green. Your guests will delight at your creativity (and don't be surprised if they try to take one home with them.)
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery