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Archive for the ‘tutorial’ Category

Tutorial: Diamond Chip Bag Decoration

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 24, 2013

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This decoration is an oldie but goodie. You can find tutorials for it all over the Web. It’s an adaptation of the well-known 3D paper snowflake. After this I’ll probably give the recycling crafts a rest because I’m too old to be a Mommy Blogger….

Diamond Chip Bag Decoration

Materials:

  • Clean chip bag
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive tape

1. Cut the coloured area of the bag into a square. My packet of chips yielded a 7″ square.

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2. Fold the square diagonally in half  and then in quarters. You have a little isosceles triangle.

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3. Cut from one folded edge of your triangle to the other folded edge, stopping 1/4″ from the edge. This is easier to do with scissors than a rotary cutter. (I turned the folded square inside out so that you could see the cuts more easily.)

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4. Gently unfold the square. You should see pairs of angled cuts.

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5. Bend the two central points into a cylinder and tape.

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6. Flip the piece over and tape the next set of points.

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7. Flip the piece over and tape the next set of points, repeating until you’re finished.

8. Tape a piece of string to the top and you’re done!

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Tutorial: Chip Bag Folding Garland

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 20, 2013

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This is so obvious that I can’t believe I’m the first to have thought of it. If your family is like mine, you go through a lot of food over the holidays, including munchies like potato chips and corn chips. I was looking at the tinsel sukkah decorations and thinking, “There’s got to be a way to keep all those wrappings out of the landfill.” I dreamed this up a couple minutes ago and did it on my kitchen table, so this tutorial isn’t very polished.

First you need to clean the bags. I cut off the tops and bottoms and cut along the side seam. Then I lay the bag flat on the counter, wash with a soapy dish sponge, rinse, and let dry.

You’ll need at least two bags , opened and cleaned. You’ll also need a pair of sharp scissors and a stapler or tape. (Stapler works best but my staples are missing…..)

1. Fold a potato chip bag (30 gram size) in half and cut off the white section with the (non)nutritional info.

2. Fold the bag again to get a square shape (approximately) and staple the two open edges. Staples are easier and more secure than tape for this stage.

3. Cut alternating circular cuts, almost to the fold. (This will be a bit fiddly, so I don’t recommend this project for very young children because it’s difficult to repair accidental cuts and tears in a chip bag.)

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4. Carefully unfold the bag so that it is flat and looks like the one below. Note: I put the tabs on because commercial tinsel garlands have them but later I cut them off because they were unnecessary.

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5. Carefully staple or tape the largest rings together and open out the cut bags. You now have a tinsel garland every bit as splendid as the Christmas decorations mass-produced in China. 🙂

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Pattern: Filet Crochet Matzah Cover

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 24, 2012

Matzah Cover

Matzah Cover Pattern

To download a full-sze version of the chart, click the image above. On the Flickr page, right-click the image and choose Original. Click the Download link and save to your hard drive.

The matzah cover design is 11.5 inches high and 12.5 inches wide, at a gauge of 6 squares per inch. I don’t recall what thread or hook I used, but they must have been fairly fine. Mine was designed to cover a 3-compartment matzah holder for square machine-made matzah. Of course, a fabric backing or matzah holder is optional, but it gives the cover a nice finish.

The chart is 96 squares high and 85 squares wide.

Matzah Cover, 1873

And for a little visual inspiration, here’s an embroidered matzah cover, surreptitiously photographed at the Israel Museum. It is designed to cover large round matzahs. The triangular tabs at the bottom, labeled “Kohen,” “Levi,” and “Israel” for the three matzahs representing the three parts of the Jewish people, are attached to layers that divide three compartments. The name embroidered below the crown is Avraham Shtern-something. I can’t quite make out the last two letters after the resh. Probably polychrome silk on silk satin, although I can’t swear to it because I’m going by a photo, not the actual artifact (and they’re not likely to allow me to handle the fabric, in any case). It’s almost certainly professional work, judging by the materials, the gold bullion letters, and the stones set in the crown. The ruffled lace edging looks like chemical lace.

Matzah cover

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Tutorial: How to Make a Needlework Chart with Visio

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 20, 2012

Visio for needlework chart

Crocheted matzah cover

This year I didn’t pack my filet crochet matzah cover away right after Pesach. Someone who saw my Flickr photo requested the pattern and I decided to make it available. The only problem was that I didn’t have any charting software.

Years ago, on my Windows95 machine, I had an old copy of PC Stitch, which was adequate for charting but not ideal. To be honest, it felt like an old DOS program that had been ported into Windows, which was probably what it was. I decided to use MS Visio 2007 (part of the Office suite) to see whether it would work. Voilà — A chart in one evening!

Note: I know that some people use Excel for charting. It is easier to use and more readily available than Visio. Visio’s main strength is that it is a graphics program with a built-in grid (you’re laying your grid lines on top of the background grid lines, which don’t show in the finished drawing). You can export your finished design as a PDF or JPEG. You can re-use the grid for other designs by hiding or deleting your current design layer.

How to Make a Needlework Chart with Visio

  1. Launch Visio and open a blank block diagram, stretching the canvas until its large enough for your design by pressing Ctrl and dragging the edges.
  2. Make sure your Drawing Tools toolbar is visible (right-click the toolbars and make sure the Drawing toolbar is checked).
  3. The grid is visible by default. If it isn’t, click View > Grid.
  4. Snap-to-Grid is enabled by default. If it isn’t, click Tools > Snap & Glue.
  5. Click the Line tool on the Drawing Tools toolbar and draw horizontal and vertical red lines, 10 squares apart.
  6. Select the red lines and save them to a layer called “grid_red” (Format > Layer).
  7. Lock the “grid_red” layer (View > Layer Properties).
  8. Draw a grid of black lines. This isn’t as tedious as it sounds: Draw one black line. Duplicate (Ctrl-drag or copy/paste) them until you have 9 parallel lines positioned correctly. Select all 9 lines and group them (Ctrl-G). Copy them (Ctrl-drag) them between each pair of red lines.
  9. Save the black lines to a layer called “grid_black” and lock it.
  10. Creat another layer called Design (View > Layer Properties. Click New). Check the Active checkbox so that all things you draw from now on will be saved to that layer (this should happen anyway because you have locked the grid layers).
  11. Draw a black square, no line, to fill one of the squares. Using Ctrl-drag to duplicate the box, start filling in the letter shapes. If there are long horizontal or vertical lines, stretch the black square to fit. Copy and paste duplicate letter shapes.
  12. Save file. You can export as JPG or PDF (File > Save as).

When I’ve laundered the cover, blocked it, and photographed it properly (the photo above really doesn’t do it justice), I’ll post the pattern.

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Pattern: Garter Rib Scarf

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 15, 2012

Knitted scarf

A sure sign of winter is knitting in my hands.

I used to knit a lot — lace tablecloths, counterpanes, doilies, sweaters, shawls, scarves, leg warmers, Moebius strips, hand warmers, hats, fruit, miniature socks with sewing thread and .5mm needles, wire jewelry, beaded bags, the list goes on and on. At some point I must have reached overload because I slowly realised that I had stopped knitting. (I haven’t even photographed most of my knitting!)

But I still knit when the weather turns cold. Taking up photography spurred me to take up knitting again, because suddenly I needed warm woolly things like leg warmers and fingerless gloves. Here’s a scarf that I just finished. The pattern is very easy but looks impressive. It’s reversible and it doesn’t curl. What more could you ask for? My version is 5 inches wide and 60 inches long, because I like to fold it in half and tuck the ends through the loop. You can increase the number of stitches if you prefer a wider version, as long as it’s a multiple of 4 plus 2.

The pattern repeat is only one row and it forms alternating strips of 2 stitches of garter stitch and 2 stitches of twisted rib (knit/purl). I made it from some German wool that had been in my stash for ages. The orange, blue, and purple strands match my purple coat. (I sewed this wool melton coat about 15 years ago and have worn it every winter since!)

Finished scarf

Garter-Rib Scarf

Materials:
US size 8 (5 mm, UK size 6) knitting needles
150 grams (about 6 oz) of worsted weight yarn

Gauge: 9 stitches = 2 inches

Directions:

Cast on 26 stitches (or a multiple of 4 + 2).

Row 1: * k2, k1 through back, p1, * k2.

Repeat Row 1 until you have about 24 inches of yarn left.

Cast off.

Posted in Crafts, knitting, tutorial | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

How to Buy Tickets for the Jerusalem Light Rail

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 23, 2011

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Dec. 31 update. Very soon the downtown bus routes will be phased out. That means you will only be able to use the Light Rail to get through downtown Jerusalem. My husband, whose hobby is public transportation, says he doesn’t know of any transport system in the world that does this. Normally light rail routes supplement existing bus routes; they don’t replace them. If a bus breaks down, it can be towed away and the passengers can be picked up by another bus. If there is a terrorist attack and the area is blocked off by police, buses can take alternate routes. But if a train breaks down, it can’t be overtaken by another train. What is the Light Rail going to do? Hand out pedestrian maps to stranded passengers? 

Language support: The Citypass site has only Hebrew pages. Clicking the Arabic link gets you a 2-page PDF (which clearly does not have all the information in the Hebrew version). Clicking English gets you … nothing. The link is inactive.

Interface oddity: Cate (comments below) pointed out that red light/green light interface for the Rav Kav card is reversed. When you insert a valid card into a card reader on an Egged bus, it flashes green. When you use a valid card on the Light Rail, it flashes red. (I haven’t checked this out myself).

Dec. 26 update. As promised, I am updating this post based on comments. Updates appear in orange.

As of December 1, 2011, the Jerusalem Light Rail is no longer free. I bought tickets a couple nights ago (in the dark, with a couple impatient people waiting in line behind me) and it was a frustrating, confusing experience. I did everything wrong. On the train, I was set straight by a couple ticket inspectors who discovered that I hadn’t loaded the rides properly on my card. When I got off the train, I went through the same process again and took a photo of the machine. Now I’m writing the manual for the machine, because the instructions provided are in Hebrew, rather verbose, and impossible to read in the dark…  🙂

Important note: The ride codes for Egged buses and the Light Rail changed on December 1. If you have  rides from before Dec. 1 on your Rav Kav card (code 2 for Jerusalem, code 3 for Maale Adumim/Jerusalem), you cannot use them for the Light Rail (this includes transferring, i.e., cartis ma’avar). You have to buy new rides (code 62) from the Egged bus driver or from the machines at the Light Rail stations. The price is 6.40 NIS per ride, regardless of whether you are riding on a bus or train. If you have both old and new rides on your card and you want to transfer between buses but not the Light Rail, tell the driver to use the old code 2 or code 3 rides (only for Egged buses), so that he doesn’t use the new code 62 rides (for buses and the Light Rail).

Don’t try boarding the Light Rail if you haven’t bought new tickets. The ticket inspectors are checking diligently and you are likely to be fined if you have not purchased a code 62 ride.

Buying Tickets from the Machine

You can pay for tickets with cash (exact change) or credit card. (Note: Mark says the machines do give change, so perhaps I got a machine that had run out of change.)
Tickets can be purchased as cardboard one-ride tickets (useful if you’re not a frequent rider or you’ve got a family with you) or loaded onto your Rav Kav card.

The machine is not a touch-screen. There are four buttons on the left side and four on the right, and it’s not always clear which buttons belong to which commands. There is a Cancel button under the screen (lower left corner of photo). You can choose an English, Hebrew, or Arabic interface (lower left button) but at some point the interface seems to revert to Hebrew. I haven’t used the machines enough times to confirm this.

There are two slots, one for the Rav Kav card and one for the credit card. Do not confuse them because they are the same size and there is no warning if you insert your Rav Kav in the wrong slot.

1. If you are loading rides on a Rav Kav card, insert the card in the slot on the right side of the screen (middle of photo above, below a little picture of the Rav Kav). The card slips into an external holder; it doesn’t slide into the machine. Press one of the two upper right buttons.

If you are not loading a Rav Kav card, press one of the two lower right buttons.

2. A notice appears telling you that a single ride is 6.40. This can be confusing if you want to purchase multiple rides. It’s not a selection option — it’s telling you the price of the ride. Press the upper left button beside the notice to continue. Rav Kav cards are personalized (anonymous Rav Kav cards have just been introduced). Miri says that if you are entitled to a discount (for example, senior citizen, child), those prices will show up when you purchase tickets.

3. Several ride options appear (1 ride, 3 rides, 5, 10, etc.– I’m relying on my memory). You get a discount if you buy a package of ten rides but only for Rav Kav. If you buy single-ride tickets, remember that they are good only for that day. So use them if you’re traveling with your family, etc. Press the button for the number of rides you want to purchase.

4. If you are paying with cash, insert the coins (exact change) in the slot to the right of the credit card slot (not visible in this photo). A counter will appear on the screen telling you how much you’ve paid and when you’ve reached the total.

If you inserted a Rav Kav card in step 1, the screen will tell you that the rides have been loaded on your card. If you did not insert a Rav Kav card, the cardboard tickets and a receipt will drop into a window below and you can collect them.

5. If you are paying with a credit card, insert it with the magnetic stripe facing down, and on the left side, in the slot (upper right area of photo). You will receive a receipt. The screen will tell you when you can remove your credit card and Rav Kav card.

Paying on the Light Rail

This is also not simple! Sorry, I don’t have a photo of the card reader/stamper but it’s the thing mounted on a pole near the door when you get on the train.

1. If you are using a Rav Kav, touch the Rav Kav against the front panel of the machine (there is a stylized drawing of a Rav Kav on the panel). Don’t try to insert your Rav Kav card into the slot on top because it won’t fit and you will feel very foolish…. If a ticket inspector appears, he will check your card with a portable card-reader to make sure that you paid. If you need to transfer to a bus, insert the card into the bus’s card-reader as usual.

2. If you are using a single-ride ticket, insert it into the slot on top (in the center of a big yellow circle). The machine will stamp it with the date and time. Keep the ticket because a ticket inspector might ask to see it. If you are transferring to a bus, show it to the driver. You can transfer within 90 minutes of the time stamped on the ticket.

Good luck and nesi’ah tovah!!! If you notice that I’ve made an error, please let me know and I’ll update this posting.

Hanukkah sameach to everyone.

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Puncetto Valsesiano: Part 9 – Diamond

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 17, 2011

For some reason, people seem find the diamond a tricky design. I think it’s because if you don’t realise that the rows are worked diagonally, you might be tempted to work back and forth horizontally, increasing at each side, then decreasing on each side. That would give anyone hives. Fortunately, the diamond is not all that difficult, especially when you see the thread path in the animation that follows.

Puncetto Valsesiano: Part 9 - Diamond

Diamond

The sample is worked on 10 loops (= 11 knots). The actual number is irrelevant because the diamond itself occupies a space that is 2 squares wide and 2 squares high. I am using a 3-knot square as my base, so this diamond covers 6 loops (= 7 knots).

Abbreviations: L to R: Left to Right. R to L: Right to Left

  1. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. Repeat. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. This forms the lower left block of the sample.
  2. Skip 2 loops of the base row of loops and make a knot in the the 3rd loop, leaving enough thread to form the diagonal side of the triangular space on the lower left side of the diamond.
  3. Skip 2 loops of the base row and make a knot in the 3rd loop, leaving enough thread to form the diagonal side and the right vertical side of the triangular space on the lower right side of the diamond. You are read to start the lower right block of the sample.
  4. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops and 1 knot on the vertical thread. Repeat. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. This forms the lower right block of the sample.
  5. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops.
  6. Start working the diamond. R to L: Make 5 knots on the right diagonal thread and 1 knot on the left diagonal thread. L to R: Make 4 knots in 4 loops. R to L: Make 4 knots in 4 loops and 1 knot on the left diagonal thread. Repeat the last two rows 3 times. You have finished the diamond. Continuing R to L: Make 2 knots on 2 loops (over top of the lower left block).
  7. Start the upper left block.  L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. Repeat. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. This forms the upper left block of the sample.
  8. Make a knot in the top loop of the diamond, leaving enough thread to form the top edge of the triangular space on the upper left side of the diamond. Make a knot on the first loop of the lower right block, leaving enough thread to form the top edge and right side of the triangular space on the upper right side of the diamond. Work the upper right block: L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops and 1 knot on the vertical thread. Repeat. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops.
  9. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. Make 3 knots on the thread over the right triangular space. Make 3 knots on the thread over the left triangular space. Make 2 knots in 2 loops (over top of  upper right block).

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Puncetto Valsesiano: Part 8 – Web

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 3, 2011

The Web pattern is a fairly common filling stitch with many variations.

I’m getting faster at working with Flash but this animation took longer than I expected. It had so many frames (over 800 hand-drawn keyframes!) that my computer began to slow down.

Puncetto Valsesiano: Web

Puncetto Valsesiano: Part 8 - Web

Web

This sample is worked on a base of 11 knots (10 loops) but the base doesn’t matter because the web itself is two squares high and two squares wide. You can work a web between vertical bars, solid squares, and as a filling, as shown in the drawing above.

Abbreviations: L to R (Working from left to right); R to L (working from right to left). Remember that the work is not turned.

  1. L to R: Make 2 knots on 2 loops.
  2. L to R: Skip 2 loops and make a knot in the third loop, leaving enough thread to form a diagonal side and an upright side of the left triangular space.
  3. Working upwards, make 3 knots on the loop you just formed.
  4. L to R: Skip 2 loops and make a knot in the third loop, leaving enough thread to form a diagonal side of the second triangular space.
  5. L to R: Make 2 knots in the last 2 loops of the row. R to L: Make 2 knots in the two loops you just formed.
  6. R to L: Make 4 knots on the first diagonal thread. Make 4 knots on the second diagonal thread and 2 knots in the loops. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. R toL: Make 2 knots in two loops.
  7. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops, leave a space of thread to form the horizontal bar of a triangular space and make a knot in the top loop of the left diagonal thread. Make a knot in the loop between the diagonal threads. Make a knot in the top loop of the right diagonal thread. Leave a space of thread and make a knot in the loop just beside the number “6”. L to R: Make 2 knots in the next 2 loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops.
  8. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops, 2 knots on the horizontal thread over the right triangular space, 2 knots in 2 loops, 2 knots on the horizontal thread over the left triangular space, and 2 knots in two loops.
  9. L to R: Make 2 knots in two loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. Repeat these 2 rows.
  10. Leave enough thread to form the diagonal of a triangular space, skip 2 loops and make a knot in the center loop.
  11. Leave enough thread to form the diagonal and the upright bar of a triangular space, skip 2 loops and make a knot in the third loop.
  12. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops. Repeat these 2 rows. L to R: Make 2 knots in 2 loops.
  13. R to L: Make 2 knots in 2 loops, 4 knots on the diagonal thread of the right triangular space, 4 knots on the diagonal thread of the left triangular space, and 2 knots in 2 loops.
  14. L to R: Make 2 knots on two loops, leave enough thread to form the horizontal bar and upright bar of a triangular space, and make a knot in the central loop of the row below.
  15. Working upwards, make 3 knots on the upright bar between the triangular spaces. Leave enough thread to form the upright of a triangular space and make a knot in the top loop of the right diagonal thread. Make 2 knots in 2 loops.
  16. R to L: Make knots in all the loops.

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Puncetto Valsesiano: Part 7 – Open Squares

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 31, 2011

I’m trying something a bit different. I’ve been so busy with work and other projects that I’ve been neglecting the Puncetto tutorials. Since I’m taking a course in Flash, I decided to try using its vector drawing tools and animation to replace the multiple photographs/drawings that have accompanied the earlier tutorials. Since this is a Flash .fla converted to .mov and uploaded to YouTube, I can’t add controls so that you stop/start the video, other than the ones that YouTube uses, so I recommend that you get used to pausing/playing the video. Otherwise it runs through very quickly. If you find it too fast, I can try to slow down the frame rate in the future.

At this point I won’t be making cosmetic changes. It’s done with frame-by-frame animation, by drawing the figure, erasing a bit at a time, and then reversing the frames (a mere 450 frames!). The tail-knot animation was also done frame by frame because shape tweening doesn’t do knots very well.

I will, of course, continue to include written instructions so that these can be saved and printed out. Since this is an experiment, I would appreciate feedback!

Open Squares

This is not an easy motif but it’s a natural progression from the earlier Squares and Bars tutorial. These little squares are usually worked in groups of four or nine squares. The basic principle is the same. You create the open squares and then finish with the knots  around the outside edge. In older patterns you often find these made by the dozen and inserted into a design, tipped on one corner like a diamond. I should tell you that making even squares is tricky because the first knots slide around on the thread. That’s why I included step 4, where you anchor the tail of the thread by tying it down, to keep the knot (#3) from sliding all over the place.

Here’s a drawing of what a finished 4-square unit looks like:

Puncetto Valsesiano: Open Squares

Instructions:

Note: The working order of squares is bottom left, bottom right, top left, and top right.

  1. Make the first knot on the thread tail so that it forms a square. (If you are a beginner, you might find it easier to form the square by shaping it around a narrow pencil.)
  2. Make 3 knots on the loop you just formed, so that you are working up the right side of the bottom left square.
  3. Make another knot on the thread tail to form the bottom right square.
  4. At this point you will find that the 2 knots on the tail slide around a lot. You will find it much easier to work the rest of the motif if you anchor the thread tail by threading it into a needle and working a knot in the corner. That’s the squiggly tail animation you see at this point.
  5. Make 3 knots on the loop you just formed, so that you are working up the right side of the bottom right square.
  6. Working from right to left, make 3 knots on the top of the bottom right square, then 3 knots on the top of the bottom left square.
  7. Make a knot on the third (middle) loop of the previous row, so that it forms the top left square.
  8. Make 3 knots on the loop you just formed, so that you are working up the right side of the top left square.
  9. Make another knot on the last loop of the row below, so that it forms the top right square.
  10. Make 3 knots on the loop you just formed, so that you are working up the right side of the top right square.
  11. Working from right to left, make 3 knots on the top of the top right square, then 3 knots on the top of the top left square.
  12. Working from top to bottom, make 3 knots in each square.
  13. Working from right to left (you will be holding the motif upside-down), make three knots in each square.

Posted in Crafts, Puncetto Valsesiano, tutorial, videos | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Paper-Cutting Tutorial: Hanukkah Lamp

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 1, 2010

Paper Cutting: Hanukkah Lamp

My only qualification for writing a tutorial on the art of paper-cutting is that I consider myself a beginner and the learning process is fairly fresh in my mind! Since Hanukkah starts tonight, I thought a Hanukkah lamp would be an appropriate subject.

One of the biggest hurdles, I find, is drafting the actual design for cutting. If you’re a natural artist and can sketch anything you like, then skip the main part of the tutorial and go straight to the cutting tips. If you’re not sure of your drawing abilities, this tutorial will show you how to turn a photograph into a paper-cutting.

The image I used is an 1873 silver Hanukkah lamp from the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague. It was lent to the White House for Hanukkah, 2009. I chose this design because the photo was clear and the design seemed suitable. You’ll have to judge your own tolerance for fiddly details!

Materials

  • Photograph (digital image)
  • Xacto knife With No. 11 blades
  • Self-healing cutting mat, 18 x 24 inches (this is a good size because the corners of a small mat can snag the edges of the cuts when you are turning the paper)
  • Paper for cutting (I used ordinary printer paper. You can use something else as long as it’s not too thick or delicate)
  • Stapler
  • Staple remover
  • Pencil with hard lead (e.g., 2H or 3H, so that the lines don’t smear)
  • Tracing paper (tracing paper comes in different weights. A thin weight is easier to see through)
  • Paper for backing
  • Glue stick
  • MagEyes with #7 (2.75X) lens (optional, but they make a big difference)

Steps

1. Insert the photo file into an MS Word document. (I chose Word because it’s readily available and allows you to resize the photo. Also, Word compresses graphics, which will make it easier to print than if you were using a graphics program like Photoshop or a photo-editing program like Picasa.)

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 1

2. Print the page (yes, I know I need to replace my toner cartridge).

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 2

3. Staple thin tracing paper to one half of the design.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 3

4. With a sharp, hard-lead pencil, trace the outlines of the design. Remember that you don’t have to reproduce the design slavishly. If some parts are too fiddly to cut, feel free to simplify. Where there are areas of overlap, for example, between the oil cups and the back plate, you’ll have to figure out how to interpret the design. The design must remain interconnected so that pieces don’t fall apart, unless you plan to glue them in later.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 4

5. Carefully remove the tracing from the printed sheet with the staple remover.

6. Fold your paper-cutting paper in half.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 5

7. Staple the tracing to the folded white paper, aligning the fold line and the edge of the tracing.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 6

8. Cut the small bits first. On the right side of the photo you see my MagEyes. I strongly recommend getting a pair because they really reduce the eye strain and make it much easier to see fine details.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 7

9. Lattice-work is easier to cut if you draw the criss-crossing lines as bars and then cut out the spaces between the bars. You get a more accurate representation that way. The blobby finials at the top were turned into fleur-de-lis because it was easier for me to cut them.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 8

10. Carefully cut out the design, working from small pieces to larger areas. Occasionally turn your work over to check the accuracy of your cuts.

Paper-Cutting Tutorial 9

11. If parts of your design are asymmetrical (e.g., the shamash or lamp on the left side), leave that area uncut. You will work it after the symmetrical part has been unfolded.

12. When you are finished cutting the symmetrical parts of the design, carefully unfold and flatten the piece.

13. Cut asymmetrical design elements.

14. You’re not finished yet! Go over the design carefully and neaten the edges, cutting wispy bits away, straightening corners, and refining curves.

15. Use glue stick to glue the cutting to a background paper or card stock. Don’t try to apply glue to the entire cutting. A dab in each corner will be sufficient. Note: I recommend that you wait a few hours or a day before mounting your paper-cutting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mounted a piece and then noticed something that I wanted to fix, after it was already glued to the backing.

16. Last but not least: Sign and date your work.

Cutting Tips

  • Before you dive in, make some practice cuts on a folded piece of paper. Curves will be harder than straight lines but eventually you’ll get the hang of it.
  • Cutting a double thickness of paper requires a bit more force than a single layer, but avoid pressing too hard with the knife. Beginners tend to use too much pressure, causing the blade to sink into the cutting mat. This creates drag on the blade and makes cutting curves a lot harder. Try to use just enough pressure to cut through all the layers of paper without sinking the tip of the blade into the mat. Remember that you’re not carving a linoleum block!
  • Each time you cut out a small piece, gently poke it out of the folded paper. I use the knife tip to pin the cut-out bit to the mat, while gently lifting the folded paper. It should make a satisfying little popping sound if your cuts are clean and meet at the corners. If you encounter any resistance at all, stop. This usually means that some of the cuts don’t meet at the corners. Turn over the folded paper and cut from the other side. Do not use force to separate the cut-out because you may tear the paper or leave feathery little fibers at the corners.
  • After you have poked the cut-out piece, sweep it out of the way. You must poke these bits out so that they don’t get caught between the paper layers and interfere with the cutting. If a piece does slip between the layers, gently open the layers and shake it out. Every now and then, stop to brush the cut bits into a wastepaper basket. This is a very messy craft!
  • If you are cutting lots of similar motifs like the candle flames, do each part assembly-line style. I cut the central flame for each candle, followed by the left part and the right part. This makes repeated motifs more consistent.
  • If you mess up a part of the design, considering cutting it out or changing your design on the fly. I frequently change my mind about a design while I’m cutting it.
  • Repeated rectangles: Cut all the straight parallel lines in one direction first. Turn the cutting 90 degrees and cut the straight parallel lines perpendicular to the first set of lines. If you’re not sure whether your cuts are meeting at the corners, turn the design over and go over the corners from the back side.
  • Curves: Work slowly with the knife (don’t press too hard!) and anchor the paper close to the curve with the fingernail of your left index finger. This will reduce the chances of the paper tearing or stretching (paper is surprisingly stretchy).
  • Long, skinny shapes: Cut the long sides first, without cutting the ends. Then cut the ends.
  • Corners: Generally, it’s easier to start at the corner and work outwards.
  • Intricate edges: For designs like the fleur-de-lis finials, cut them at an early stage without cutting away the entire background. Leaving the background attached gives you a more stable piece to work with. When it’s time to cut away the background, you’ll only have to cut the simpler curves and edges.

Good luck! If I’ve forgotten anything, please tell me.

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