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Article: Popular Paper Crafts for Kids and Adults

Popular Paper Crafts for Kids and Adults

How wonderful is it that paper crafts have made a huge comeback this year! If you’re feeling like a digital detox or just a few hours away from your usual routine, then getting creative with paper crafts is a fantastic way to switch off and unwind. It’s an ‘in the moment’ and imaginative art form that appeals to all ages and, preparation-wise, can be relatively fuss-free – always a plus!

In this blog, we’ve gone on a hunt for the paper arts and crafts that are most popular right now – from paper mâché to quilling to origami to card making. A selection of our favourites lies ahead, so read on to discover the path to paper crafting fun!

Popular Paper Crafts for Kids and Adults

Paper Mâché

Paper mâché, from the French papier mâché (literally, ‘chewed up paper’!), might bring back memories of your primary school days, but there’s so much more fun waiting to be had! In fact, the number of inspiration projects lying ahead is only limited by your imagination! 

Paper Mache
Paper Mache
Credit: HGTV

First up, there’s the basic technique to get down pat, which isn’t hard. You’ll need flour, water, salt and strips of paper. (Newspaper works best and it’s cheap and a great way to recycle.) Check out this simple ‘how to’ guide by Epic Fantasy

Then it’s simply a matter of turning your mind to a product, like decorative bowls or faux plants, and finding a way to achieve the shape you’re after. We found it impossible to go past this wonderful little Nemo fish creation by Charisse Eaves.

Nemo Clown Fish

Finding Nemo was the absolute favourite childhood film of Bonbon Fusion founder Nick McLean and we watched it so many times back in the day that I can still hear Dory saying, ‘When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming!’

If you’re after a bright and happy addition to an empty shelf or TV cabinet, we highly recommend that you give this one a go! 

Paper Mâché Nemo Clown Fish

Paper Mâché Nemo Clown Fish

Credit: Whimsy Paper Mâché

The You Tube clip provides an easy-to-follow method, and the only caution is to ensure the balloon stays inflated during the initial steps (try inflating it just before you start). All up, you’ll need:

  • a balloon (any size you like)

  • newspaper strips (enough for ten coats)

  • home-made glue

  • cardboard (for fins & tail)

  • light grade sandpaper

  • arts and crafts primer and coloured paints, poly acrylic for sealing (readily available in store & online)

To create your very own pet Nemo, you’ll need to allow about three days, in order to let the coats of paper dry. 

Once you’ve prepared the glue and cut up the newspaper, it’s on to the construction of the body – blowing up the balloon and taping on the cardboard fins and tail. Then two to three coatings of paper, leave to dry overnight and repeat, then repeat again. 

Once completely dry, lightly sand little Nemo with light grade sandpaper, then paint with a primer, dry, paint all over with orange base colour, dry, pencil in stripes that you’ll paint white with a black outline, paint his happy face, dry, then seal with poly acrylic and voilà! (We know it sounds like a lot, but it’s really not! – just follow the tutorial!) 

Oh, and you can, of course, paint Nemo in any colours you’d like but I’m not really sure what he’d have to say about that! The traditional are the best!

So, if paper mâché is one of those DIY crafts that you know about but that’s fallen off your radar, then this might just be this season’s DIY fun activity for you!

Paper Quilling

Paper quilling is another really popular way to satisfy those crafty cravings. It’s super relaxing and a great way to reduce anxiety - you’ll find yourself fully absorbed in what you’re doing. Plus, it’s economical and easy to learn, so you’ll be an expert in an hour or two!

Paper Quilling

Paper Quilling

Credit: Ruth Jenkinson / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

For those of you, like us, who are new to the craft, here’s the rundown. The requisite materials are strips of paper, quick drying glue and a quilling tool (we call it the ‘Q tool’). And the technique involves rolling, coiling, crimping and fringing the paper strips with the Q tool before gluing them together into a particular pattern or design. Such fun!

You can buy Q tools in arts and crafts stores or simply use a long needle (we found one in Nana’s old sewing box) or a thin piece of metal. Some quillers also suggest a round toothpick. It just needs to be long enough to easily roll the paper strips. 

And when it comes to the paper, you can cut your own strips or, as Rebecca Ludens at the Spruce Crafts recommends, buy pre-cut bundles. These are generally fit-for purpose, colourful strips made from lightweight paper that’s perfect for rolling, gluing and attaching to your design.

The design is only limited by your imagination and there are lots of fantastic ideas online. We really like the very cute quilled photo frame over at Craft Bits

Paper Quilled Photo Frame

Muhaiminah Faiz at Craft Bits gives a step-by-step guide to creating this novel photo frame before embellishing it with gorgeous quilled paper flowers. A great DIY project for a special personalised gift (Mother’s Day coming up soon …). 

Paper Quilled Photo Frame

Paper Quilled Photo Frame

Credit: Craft Bits

In order to concentrate on the quilling, you might like to do a project hack and invest in a store-bought foam-board frame (who’s looking at us?!) In this case, once you have your frame at hand, start at Muhaiminah’s Step 4 and place your beautifully-crafted flowers around the four sides. 

For the flower creation, we recommend the Crafty Tube three-minute tutorial. After making a few, you’ll find you get into a rhythm, zone out into mindfulness, and soon have lots of bright colourful petals spread before you. 

As final extra touches, try adding faux pearl beads at the centre of the flowers and filling the small gaps with loose quilled circles. And there you have it, a floral delight!

Origami

If the word ‘origami’ conjures up nothing more exciting than a paper crane, then you’re in for a treat! There’s such a wealth of easily-accessible creation projects out there featuring this paper folding technique as the star of the show!

 

Origami Animals

Origami Animals

Credit: BBC Goodfood

Once a craft practised exclusively by the elite, origami increased rapidly in popularity when paper became a more affordable craft supply. Yet, to this day, there remains something enchanting about this time-honoured practice, forming part, as it does, of a rich cultural tradition originating in Japan. Word has it that if a person folds a thousand paper cranes (you were right to conjure up cranes!), then they’ll be granted one special wish.  

 

Feel free to take up this thousand crane challenge and good luck beating the current world record time of nine hours 31 minutes 13 seconds, set by Evelyne Chia of the UK in 2021. Evelyne’s wish was to raise money for the National Health Service (and she did –£2310!); what would yours be ? 

As for us, we took an easier path and opted for a set of delightful coasters.

Origami Coasters

All that’s required to create the eye-catching coasters designed by Emma at Gathering Beauty are four pieces of paper per coaster, some careful folding and about half an hour of your free time. Such a deceptively simple and budget-friendly DIY project that will add a splash of colour to your next picnic or outdoor table. 

Origami Coasters

Origami Coasters

Credit: Gathering Beauty

You can cut your own squares from thin paper, such as the pages of discarded magazines, books or maps, just ensuring you make the edges very straight. Or, for a reasonable price, invest in a set of traditional origami sheets, which are sure to spoil you for design and colour choice!

Then, it’s a nine-step process, which, thanks to crafter Emma, couldn’t be clearer! Follow the steps here or hop over to the video for a quick tutorial. 

As a final step, a sealer, such as Mod Podge, will help preserve the lifespan of the coasters. But we think they look just great au naturel!

Card Making

A trip to any local handcraft or open-air market shows how popular handmade cards have become. No offense to Hallmark™, but there’s no comparison between a stock-standard greeting card and a beautiful card made by hand with love and care. And that sense of anticipation when you receive mail from that friend or family member who always goes out of their way to make or choose a card just for you (looking at you, Aunty Pam!). 

Card Making

Card Making

Credit: Paper Mill Direct

There are lots of clever techniques to choose from if card making takes your fancy. Just run your eye over these suggestions by Hilary Pullen at Craft World – 

  • Die cutting where you bypass a knife or scissors and use a machine to create shapes and designs

  • Embellishing or adding items to the card, such as small paper flowers, sequins or coloured gems or beads (try a good bead shop for an amazing selection) 

  • Embossing to give the card extra dimension and interest through a raised design or text

  • Foiling to add a metallic finish to the card’s design, using foil sheets, heat and pressure

  • Fussy cutting (love this term!) where you cut out a design from patterned paper or a stamped image

  • Ink blending - using a blending tool to combine different coloured inks and create a seamless change from one colour to the next

  • Punching where you use a crafter’s paper punch to create an array of shapes and sometimes intricate designs, such as circles, rectangular gift tags and petalled flowers

  • Stamping with a raised design suitable for imprinting onto your card or paper (and you can make your own stamps – try these!)

Butterfly Pop-up Birthday Card

When you first look at the finished product, you might think the pop-up birthday card by Mukta Art and Craft is very difficult to create. If so, you’re in for a nice surprise! By following Mukta’s step-by step tutorial, you’ll have your own butterfly card ready for that special occasion in no time. 

You’ll need to select some paper suitable for a particular event, such as Mother’s Day, and then get underway with folding, gluing, drawing, cutting out and paper punching. One thing we found really helpful is that the exact paper measurements are provided, so there’s zero guesswork involved! The butterflies are easy if you follow the leader and maybe have a few practice turns 😊! And once you’ve created the basic structure, you can write your own greeting and add some sparkles and glitter to give your card that extra special personal touch!

Butterfly Pop-up Card

Butterfly Pop-up Card

Credit: Mukta Art & Craft

§§§§§§§§

Through making crackers as we do here at Bonbon Fusion, paper crafting is a skill we’ve come to master. When we started out, however, we were pretty much novices … This is what Nick McLean, in the Q&A with the company founder, has to say on the matter – 

When we first started the company, I knew a bit about 3D printing and was pretty confident that it was the perfect method to kick-start the company. At the time, I remember thinking, “I can design parts and print them in my house before packaging them inside Christmas crackers and it will be fairly straightforward. Right?”

Maybe we were a little naïve about the simplicity of the process, especially considering that, when we registered the business, I had never owned a 3D printer and neither mum nor I had produced a Christmas cracker!

So, we speak from personal experience when we say how rewarding – not to mention how much fun! –  it is to turn to paper crafting as a wonderful way to produce something original and from the heart.

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