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Tips for Cutting and Tearing Paper
Cutting paper may sound like a no-brainer to many of us crafters, but read on and you may pick up a trick or two to help you craft smarter.
The general rule when cutting paper with a pair of scissors is to move the paper, not the scissors. If you’re cutting a circle, for example, let the hand holding the paper guide the paper into a curve, while keeping the hand with the scissors in place.
For more precision cutting with a small scissors, use your index and middle fingers instead of your thumb and index finger to control the blades. Surgeons use this method, as do parchment crafters.
Some images used in decoupage have blank spaces within them. To remove these blank spaces with scissors, try cutting along a line in the image that leads to the space, then proceed to cut out the blank area. The cut will be barely noticeable if you carefully glue the image to the surface to be decoupaged.
Another way is to cut out the spaces using a sharp X-acto knife and a cutting mat. As in cutting paper with a scissors, move the paper and not the knife, keeping the blade upright, perpendicular to your work surface, instead of slanting it at an angle.
The proper way to cut paper or cardstock with a craft knife is to never pull the blade directly towards yourself; always pull the blade to your left or right to avoid injury in case the blade slips.
When cutting a stack of paper with a straight edge and craft knife, make several shallow cuts instead of one deep cut. The blade won’t swerve and the cut edges will remain straight.
The same applies when cutting thick board with a cutter and straight edge. It also helps to stand up when you’re cutting, since you’ll be able to apply the right pressure to the blade at the correct angle.
When making a collage or altered art, try tearing paper instead of cutting it. Tearing produces a softer edge, which makes it easier to blend into the background. Tearing is also recommended in papier mache; the torn edges make for a smoother surface.
Tearing paper along the grain is easier than tearing against it, and will result in a more regular edge. For a straight tear, lay a straightedge on your paper and while firmly holding down the straightedge, pull up the paper against it.
Instead of trimming excess paper with a scissors or craft knife when covering the surface of a box or frame, try sanding it off at the edge with fine grit sandpaper.
When punching lightweight paper, sandwich it first between two pieces of thicker paper or cardstock to stabilize it. The cardstock will keep the thinner paper from being “eaten” by the puncher.
Content copyright © 2014 by Mia C. Goloy. All rights reserved.
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