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Winter Trees From Paper Snowflakes
These miniature winter trees are made from layers of simple cut paper snowflakes. They are an easy school or club project for children. You can make the snowflakes to the simple 12-branched design shown in these instructions, or assemble them from snowflakes cut to your own designs.
Gather the following items before you begin your snowflake tree project:
- Lightweight printer paper (20-pound)
- Brown kraft paper recycled from a grocery bag (for optional brown trunks)
- Sharp scissors
- PVA glue or a glue stick
The trick in making these trees is to use paper that folds well—20-pound paper is easier to cut through multiple folds than even slightly heavier 24-pound paper. Depending on the size of the tree you want to make, you will need two to three sheets of letter-sized paper for each tree.
This design is so simple the snowflakes can easily be adapted to fancier materials. Try using flocked paper, glitter wrapping paper, or recycled newspaper to create your own style. You can also change the paper you use for the tree trunks—brown craft paper is a classic choice.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Measure and Cut the Paper for the Trunk
To make the trunk for a miniature snowflake tree, you need to cut a triangle of fairly stiff paper. This example uses pieces of recycled brown kraft paper from a grocery bag, but a printer weight paper will work as well.
Set the Height of Your Snowflake Tree
The tallest side of the right-angle triangle determines the height of the snowflake tree. Paper snowflakes will be set along the trunk every 1/2 to 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters).
The bottom edge of the triangle will determine the taper of the tree trunk. The longer a triangle base you cut, the wider your tree trunk will be at the bottom.
If you're going to make a range of trees for a village scene, vary the height and width of the tree trunks to create a more interesting forest composition.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Roll and Glue the Trunk
To assemble the paper tree trunk, start at the right angle edge of your triangle and roll the paper as tightly as possible to the point on the lower edge of the triangle. The tighter you roll your trunk, the easier it will be to add the snowflakes.
When you have rolled across to the point of the triangle, keep the bottom edge square, and twist the top of the cone to tighten your roll. With the roll tightened, apply some PVA glue or a glue stick to the underside of the last couple of inches of the roll and glue the final point to hold it together.
If you want stiffer trees, you can apply glue along the upper and lower edges of as you roll. Try one roll to see how tight you can get it before you try gluing the trunk along both edges of the triangle. Remember, if you apply glue, you won't be able to tighten up the trunk merely by twisting the roll at the top.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Fold a Basic Six-Pointed Snowflake
To fold a 6- or 12-pointed base for paper snowflakes or stars, you need to start with a square of paper. You can either cut the measured squares for your snowflake tree or fold squares as you go.
Cutting Measured Squares
To measure the size of the snowflakes you need for your tree, first, measure how far up the trunk you want your branches to begin. Mark this point and decide how wide you want your branches to be. Measure from your mark up to the top of your trunk, marking the trunk roughly every 1/2 or 1 inch. Marks that are closer together will make for a more full tree.
The top snowflake will usually need to be 2 to 3 inches in diameter (5 to 7 centimeters).
The example trees feature squares that are around 1 inch longer on each side than the previous square for each snowflake. The top snowflake measures 2 inches across and the sizes increase as they go down. They have six to eight snowflakes, cut from two sheets of letter-sized printer paper.
With your measurements, decide how many snowflakes you need to get from your base snowflake to the top of your tree. Use the width of the base snowflake to determine how much smaller each snowflake should be in your series to evenly scale to the top 2- to 3-inch snowflake. This will give you measurements for a series of squares to use as the snowflake bases.
Folding Paper Squares
To fold paper squares, turn a piece of paper up on one corner so the sides are at 90 degrees to the rest of the paper. Next, crease the fold across the middle and then trim the square to shape. Check that the paper is square by folding the opposite corners together, and trim any excess after the second fold.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Finish the Folds
Folding the Points for Your Snowflake
Folding the points for your 6- or 12-sided snowflake is the trickiest part of this exercise. You can use the standard four folds if you wish, but your tree won't appear as rounded as it will with a six- or twelve-point star.
To fold the six points, leave your square of paper in a triangle and make sure you have a slight crease to mark the midline of the triangle under the point. Fold one of the corners up and across the point (one folds at 30 degrees on a protractor) then fold up the other corner so the free side of that corner matches the line of the previous corner fold. If you are folding these without measuring, you may have to fudge the sides back and forth a bit before you can match up all the edges as shown.
Once you have the edges matching properly, crease the folds—a bone folder will help you make great creases but it isn't a necessity. These two corners folded across the center point will give you a six-point star or snowflake.
To make a 12-point star or snowflake, you just have to fold the six-point in half once more. Finally, trim the top so all the edges are even, this will make sure your snowflake or star is roughly circular after you cut it to shape.
When you have your folds neatly creased, move on to the next step to see a suggested cutting pattern for a branched snowflake.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Accordion Fold the Snowflake Before Cutting
For complex cut paper snowflakes or stars, it pays to reset your folds into an accordion pleat once you have folded the main crease lines. This helps keep all the sides of the snowflake as even as possible, as they don't have to wrap over each other.
To fold the accordion pleats, unfold your first set of creases, and use the lines you made to bend the folds so they alternate back and forth. Now you should be able to cut your star or snowflake so the arm sections are very even.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Cut a Simple Branched Pattern
This snowflake style has sides that look like branches. You may find other patterns you like for your particular style. Any snowflake will work for making the trees, and they don't need to all be the same.
Start the Cuts
To begin cutting branched stars or snowflakes cut two V-shaped slits at the wide end of your folded paper as shown above. The distance you leave from the edge of the V to the fold of your snowflake edge will be half the width of each branch.
Once you have the two Vs cut on the outer edge of the snowflake, work down each side. Snipping free another branchlet angled to match the side of the V, keep the branchlets even with the other side. You can also make them alternate if you wish.
Cutting the Center Hole
To cut the hole for the tree trunk to pass through, clip a very small piece of the narrow pointed end of your folded paper. Don't make this a very large cut. If you do get too large a hole you can patch it closed with a scrap of paper set under the hole and then you can trim a new one.
Open your snowflakes/stars carefully. You can press them flat with a dry iron on a low setting.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Prepare a Graded Series of Snowflakes
To make a miniature snowflake tree, cut as many snowflakes as you will need to create the branched sections for your chosen size of the tree. Lay them out according to the size, you will need to begin with the largest snowflake.
If you want slightly-curled branches, gently guide a metal ruler or the side of a pair of scissors across the tips, taking care not to tear the ends.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Begin by taking the largest snowflake and slide it gently down the trunk from the top of the tree. Turn it gently as you go towards the mark you made when measuring the number of snowflakes you would need in step 4.
The snowflakes should hold in position with a friction fit. If you wish, you can apply a tiny amount of PVA glue or glue stick glue on the trunk at the base of each snowflake to hold them in place.
With the first snowflake secured at the base of your tree, add the next largest snowflake so it fits somewhere between 1/2 inch and 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) above the first. Keep adding the snowflakes in order until you reach the top flake.
For the top snowflake, you can set it down on the trunk like the other snowflakes or you can choose to glue it over the top of the tree which will disguise the twisted top end of the trunk.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Stabilize the Base
To secure the bottom of a miniature snowflake tree for a village scene, you can glue it permanently to a base and then add some snow.
For a more subtle look, you can hold the trees square by setting them into a blob of modeling clay. Use natural clay colors for your display like green to represent grass or needles, brown or grey of rocks, or white to look like a blanket of snow.
Trees with low branches that sweep the ground may not need to be stabilized as the bottom limbs may hold the tree upright.