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Paper-Cutout Cards

These beautifully rendered paper cutouts require only patience, concentration, and a careful hand to make. The materials required for even the most elaborate cutouts are simple and inexpensive -- paper and pencil, scissors and knife.

Photography: Luis Bruno

Source: Martha Stewart


We used two main cutting techniques to produce our designs. One is to cut a single shape, often drawn along one continuous line, from unfolded paper (like a silhouette); the other method is to cut one or more designs from folded paper, resulting in double images or repeating patterns.


  • Sharp pair of embroidery or cuticle scissors

  • Pencil 

  • Utility knife with replacement blades

  • Transfer paper 

  • Fine-tipped brush

  • Self-healing cutting mat


  1. To start, use transfer paper to trace the templates, which will keep the design right-facing. For cutting designs from folding paper, do not fold the paper more than two or three times. Score creases with a bone folder for precision. Before you begin to cut, secure the edges of the folds with paper clips, or staple the folds together outside the borders of the design.

  2. Paper is easiest to handle if you begin cutting from the center and work your way out to the edges. Pierce the paper with scissor tips or a pin to gain entry into small spaces. A utility knife is ideal for cutting curved shapes, and central and small areas. Rest paper on a self-healing cutting mat, and apply steady downward pressure on the blade. Guide the knife toward you, holding the paper taut with your free hand. Scissors are best for large shapes and outer edges.

  3. Once you have begun to cut on a fold, never open the paper to check your progress; it is nearly impossible to realign it, and the symmetry of your design will be spoiled. To eliminate the chance of a tear, you'll need to change knife blades whenever the paper starts to pull as you try to cut.

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