The ability to shape three dimensional shapes using paper and card is fun and one
of the most widely used materials in arts and crafts. This introduction to paper crafts provides types,
accessories and the many uses this material lends itself to a wide range of techniques. Since paper can be
glued, cut, molded, stitched, folded and layered, there are so many options to explore.
Some cultures can be associated with paper crafts such as Japan or China. In both cultures a form of folding
paper became a popular craft and art form. Origami (Japanese culture) and Zhezhi (Chinese culture) are specific
paper folding techniques which have evolved and become popular for generations.
You can see beautiful forms of nature such as flowers, leaves and trees from this Eastern culture of paper
crafting. Paper dates back as far as the third millennium B.C. having originated in Egypt where the material was
created by beating reeds into rectangular forms for road maps and scrolls.
Today we see the use of paper crafts in classrooms with children. Since it is a fairly inexpensive medium and
easy to work with, many teachers utilize paper crafts in art education.
Paper making is a popular craft. An artist can enhance the beauty of paper by producing patterns which involve
marbling or embossing. Another technique called Iris folding involves folding small strips of colored paper to form
shapes, pictures and designs. Generally the shape in the center mimics an iris.
There are several techniques for paper folding crafts to make art. The most popular are origami and pop up
books. These involve an elaborate transformation of a flat piece of paper into something more sculptural or 3
dimensional. Origami does not however utilize cutting or glue but rather creates intricate designs through many
folding methods. Greeting cards which involve pop ups and intricate shapes are included in this category.
In western culture cutting paper to create new and vast concepts and art is
popular among children and adults. Paper cutting can be traced back to the 6th century in China. This involves
cutting and shaping paper into many designs. Decoupage is also within this category as a method for cutting
and gluing colored paper into a combination.
Paint, gold leaf, embellishments can also be added for enhanced décor. You can see this form of art on small
boxes or furniture accents. The layers are sealed with special varnishes which are designed to create the look of
inlay or painting techniques.
Collage is from the French term `a coller, which means “to glue”. Generally this technique is used in visual
arts and uses many different forms and materials. Collage can include newspaper, ribbons, bits of paper, found
objects, clippings and handmade papers.
Many artists also add texts or other artwork. The popularity of collage heightened in the early 20th century by
famous artists such as Picasso and Braque. Modern day card making and even scrapbooking incorporate forms of
collage and the concept of gluing various items onto paper.
Many people think of paper mache when considering paper crafts. This originated in the mid 19th century as a
method for binding books. The concept expanded into various shapes, designs and sculptures which involve paper,
paste and molding elements to create 3 dimensional shapes.
By having an introduction to paper crafts, you can begin to explore the many intricate art forms created by many
artists and individuals today. Items such as scrapbooks, greeting cards and school art projects all incorporate
these various methods for using paper in crafts.