Monday, December 10, 2012

A proper snowflake!

My paper snowflakes, made today; altered photo
Everyone else is posting about their nominations for the 2012 Art Ed Blogger of the Year, but since I wasn't nominated (sniff, sniff... sour grapes...) I'm going to post about something completely different - SNOWFLAKES!  (But I did take some time out first and vote for a few of you.)

Anyhow, I have a personal pet peeve: 8-pointed snowflakes. (Disclaimer: if you have recently posted a lesson or project with an 8-pointed snowflake, you are not alone; there have been many such posts recently.  It is not the intent of this post to criticize or belittle you.  Rather, my intent is to share information and raise awareness.)  Disclaimer done, now on to the lovely little snowflake!



The crystalline structure of snow is 6-pointed, so, while all snowflakes are unique, starting with a six sided radially symmetrical shape will make a world of difference in making a 'real' snowflake.  But you can't fold a square paper into six points, can you?  So instead we will begin with a circle. My students always made their circles by tracing the bottoms or tops of buckets, etc.  Thin paper, like computer paper works best for detailed cutting.

Fold the circles in 1/2, as shown in the photo above.  We call this the 'taco fold'. (But do not insert meat and cheese.)
 Find the center by gently folding in 1/2 again, but do not crease.  Pinch the center, and mark with a pencil.

Next you will need to fold the the taco shell into three equal triangles.  To be nice and perfect about this, you can put the center of a protractor on the center that you just marked on the folded paper, and then mark off at 60 and 120 degrees (photos below).  If you want, draw a pencil line from the center through the marks, as shown in the photo.  Or, you can just fold from the center, through your marks, and crease without the pencil lines.  If you don't  have a protractor, just 'eyeball it' to get equal triangles.  Once you've done it a few times you won't need the protractor at all.  I used it on only one of my snowflakes today.  I like to fold one triangle forward, and one back, to make for a nice crisp fold.  Press down well to crease. (Note: if you open it up, it should look like a 6-slice pizza.  If it doesn't, you've done something wrong.)
 You are ready to start cutting!  Make sure you have a nice pointy sharp scissors, not too big.  Blunt scissors will not work well.
 
By the way, blogger is not cooperating tonight, so please forgive the crazy formatting of the photos and text in this post.  It was important to get them into sequence, but it seems that blogger had something a little different in mind.  Hopefully you'll understand...


 The following photos are pairs of snowflakes, before and after unfolding.
Note the scoops cut on either side of the center point on the snowflake above (as indicated by my fingers).  They will form a lovely flower shape as you can see in the open snowflake. Also note that I cut the top edge so that it is no longer a circle.  It's important to change the upper edge shape or your snowflakes will all look like gears.
 
 In the snowflake above, you can see I have cut a little triangle out of the point at the center of the folded snowflake.  In the open snowflake, you can see (where I am pointing) that it will form a star.  I've done a much bigger version of the same thing on the snowflake below.  I've also made a lot of dramatic cuts down from the upper curved edge of the circle and in from the sides.
 Check out how I cut the point on the snowflake below.  Also note how much of the top of the triangle I removed. 
 The more paper you remove, and the less thick areas of paper you leave, the more lacy and delicate it will look, and it will look more like a 'real' snowflake. Cut away from all sides leaving narrow lines of paper.  I recommend cutting symmetrically from both sides of the folded triangle.
If you want, draw an object (preferably symmetrical)  that touches the sides and cut it out.  Great ideas for this could be the shape of a bell, an angel, a tree, or, as in my cuts below, a star and a snowman.
 
 
Below are a couple more interesting cuts.  Feel free to print any of these photos to help you get started.  I'm not worried about my snowflakes getting copied. 
 
 
 I thought I'd end with my attempt at a menorah (above).  It was too small a circle to be cut effectively, but you get the idea!  Happy Chanukah!

Oh - one more thing (there's always something else, isn't there?).  You may notice from my demo photos that I am left-handed.   I struggled with cutting as a child, and my mom got me paper dolls to encourage me to cut more.  (And of course I designed all my own clothes for them.)  My point is, don't give up on your lefty students, and please, reconsider those lefty scissors.  It is, sadly for us lefties, a right-handed world, from the soup ladle (we have to pour out of them backwards) to the  hand mixer and the iron (the cord comes from the wrong side), we need to adapt.  Leftie scissors didn't exist when I was a kid, and frankly, I'm still not sure they should.  There's some weird flaw about the way we hold leftie scissors; they just don't cut as well.  If you can get your lefties to cut with their right hand, they'll be better off.  After all, they will use the computer mouse with the right, shift their car with their right, and cut their meat with their right hand, so why not also use a scissors right-handed?   Plus, if we lefties ever find ourselves without the use of our left hand (due to injury, stroke, etc), we generally will function better with our right hand that a right-handed person will do with their left.  We lefties are very ambidextrous!  Left on!!!

28 comments:

  1. These are awesome! Great pointers! I was thinking of doing a snowflake project with my kindergartners since they seem a little more advanced this years with scissors. I was going to use coffee filters instead of paper since I'm thinking those may be easier to cut...what do you think?

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    1. Oh my, I've never done snowflakes with kindergarten,and I don't think I would, at least not using my snowflake instructions. But I do think coffee filters are worth a shot if you are working with older kids. I haven't ever tried it. I think they'd be nice and strong, but I'm not sure if they will hold a crisp fold, and because of their 'mushy' texture might be a little harder to get intricate cuts.

      But I have done symmetrical cutting with the kinders - just with paper folded in 1/2. Do you think they'll be able to keep the paper folded and cut through multiple layers for snowflakes? Anyhow, if you try it, write back and let us all know if it was a success! Maybe I don't have enough confidence in the wee ones?

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    2. I have done snowflakes with young children; I just cut and folded all of the circles ahead of time. It took a lot of time, but it was worth it. Also, if the students draw before they cut, it will be easier for them. I.e., if you draw a triangle on the left, draw a triangle on the right. I still think that kindergarten is a little young, but maybe not 1st or 2nd.

      Also, I did recently post about 8-pointed snowflakes....but they were abstract artistic ones, not real ones (http://missyoungsartroom.blogspot.com/2012/12/reverse-snowflakes.html). I had a good reason to use a square paper on that one! And, it was just a time filler, not a real lesson. You are going to see some beautiful six-pointed snowflakes from my 4th graders in a week or two!

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    3. ooh, I do 6 sided with my kinders! They are always beautiful!! I have a few tricks up my sleeve, though: I fold all (120+) snowflakes out of 9" tracing paper squares. (less bulky and easier to cut) I do a few here and there during preps or quiet moments.. We spend a class working on scissor skills and taking copy paper and folding, cutting on a fold, using the strongest part of the scissors, etc. and "seeing what happens" and talking a bit about symmetry. The next class I pass out the folded "cones" and I have a mnemonic story about a polar bear finding an ice cream cone that (99%) never fails. Some kids need a little assistance, but I have done it with some pretty big (28, 28, 27 and 30! :-( Kinders in classes this year).
      I have 12x12" blue construction papers cut, sometimes I write their names, sometimes they do, we scribble a blob of glue stick in the middle the size of their snowflakes and gently press the flake down. Then decorate with white crayons.
      I fold with a clay tool in place of a bone folder, I have used a protractor at times but have gotten really good at eyeballing the angles. If anyone wants more details , LMK. I agree 100% on the 8-sided snowflakes!

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    4. Ingrid, what do you mean by a 'bone folder'? For younger kids, certainly the idea of giving them pre-folded paper would work well. I'm assuming the polar bear takes bites out of his ice cream to create the snowflake cuts? Sound cute.

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    5. Phyl,
      http://blog.paper-source.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/bone-folder-crease1.jpg
      I hope that link works to an image. Basically, a good creasing tool. When you're folding a ton it speeds things up! I just use whatever clay tool is apx the same shape.
      Yes, the polar takes a big messy, wiggly, polar-bear bite out of the top, in search of some flavor, then the bottom (starburst in the middle), then shares the sides with various friends who are slightly germ-phobic and make sure no bites touch another bite! Ha! Makes no sense, but the kids get into it- kids suggest different shapes for different animals- I've gotten rounded 'seal' bites, triangle 'bird' bites, and tiny 'snow-ant' (?!??) bites. Kids are great at playing along.
      The oohs and ahs as they open them are always so fun! Tracing paper works great, it is so much easier for K's to cut.

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  2. This made me smile. And you WERE nominated, just not a finalist. I saw someone nominate you in the comments on AOE. :)

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    1. Always like to make people smile! Thanks!

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  3. Happy Hannukah, Phyl! The snowflakes are beautiful!

    :)Pat

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    1. Thanks, Pat. I know this is a tough season for you this year. Sending good vibes your way!

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  4. So thorough! I'll be sure to give this a try in our winter, thanks Phyl : )

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    1. Ah, that's right; you're currently heading into summer, right?

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    2. Yes, some hot days recently. Most of the kids around here are lucky enough to be able to walk to beach after school! And just 4 days until the Summer holidays : )

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  5. These are lovely! I think our new house could use a few of these. And yes, I nominated you and I doubt I was the only one. I was very surprised and disappointed when I saw that you weren't a finalist! Yours is the first blog I check each day!

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    1. Thanks, Mrs.Connell!
      I was really just kidding about the sour grapes - I know in my heart that I met all of the criteria for being a finalist. Besides, I'm in very good company- some of my favorite bloggers were not included: the amazing Cassie Stevens (the penultimate art teacher!), Sharpiewoman (my kindred spirit), Painting with Brains (a high school art teacher with a sharp wit and an intriguing blog), Christie at Fine Lines (a thoughtful blogger with wonderful art lessons posted regularly) etc. You get the idea! Besides, by not being included as a finalist, I didn't have to waste a post soliciting votes. Instead I got to write about snowflakes! Now if there was a big cash prize, or perhaps a flat screen TV or a digital SLR or a new iPhone, then you would have seen me campaigning big-time...

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  6. You are one EXPERT snowflake cutter!!!! Love that snowman!!

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  7. Hi Phyl

    Love them all, including the menorah (I have never seen a Chanukah snowflake!). Thanks for the super photos and examples.

    Rina

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  8. Nice! Love all the photos especially.

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  9. Perfect timing! I kept making and hating square snowflakes. Your way is so easy the kids are in heaven! Thanks again!

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  10. Happy Chanukah, Phyl. Paper snowflakes are the only kind of flakes we're seeing around here, but hoping for some real ones soon. I fold my papers a little differently, but get a similar result. I fold a whole piece of copy paper in half (hamburger fold), then follow your steps to fold into thirds, and chop off the end. Similar six sided flake, but more of a hexagon than a round.
    I also iron my snowflakes to flatten them...Is that weird?
    I don't like the folds.

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    1. Ha ha ha ... Weird, yes, but awesome! why didn't I think of that? And I agree, some real snow would be very nice. And your fold is fine - I always encourage cutting away the roundness anyhow so they don't look like clock gears.

      I was in my old school yesterday, subbing, and I brought in all the snowflakes I had made to give to the 5th grade teacher across the hall. She's been having me teach her kids snowflakes during recess time for years, and was frustrated without my help! She was so excited to get a bagful of paper snowflakes.

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  11. I'm going to make them with a few classes next week, Phyl.
    I'm hoping to gather a bunch together to run through the laminating machine...we have one with a large bed, then will trim the sheet to fit the front doors.

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  12. Oh you have really raised the bar on snowflake cutting with this post! Love the tutorial and I love cutting snowflakes.
    Maybe if we cut enough of them we'll get a snow day this week! Wouldn't that be nice!

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  13. nice! www.pekearteleno.blogspot.com
    have a look at it

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  14. Hi my blog Sutka and Art Education but no one would see it because I have 2 followers. But I thought I'd try to get the word out via you.
    Connecitut PTSA
    60 Connolly Parkway
    Buliding 12, Suit 103
    Hamden , CT 06514

    is collecting snowflakes to make the new school for Sandy Hook a winter Wonderland. The email I got send them by Jan 12, 2013.

    Allison at Sutka and Art Education

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    1. I heard something about the 'snowflakes and spring flowers for Sandy Hook' as well, can you tell any more about it?
      Thank you

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    2. Here's a link with the info re: snowflakes for Sandy Hook -
      http://www.ctpta.org/SANDY-HOOK-FUND.html

      Making and mailing snowflakes seems like a wonderfully easy thing to do. The link (from the CT PTA) says "Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school."

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