Guild of American Papercutters

Turning cut paper into art....

Papercutting Tips

The tips below are suggestions by our members for beginning and advanced papercutters.  If you are a following of the Guild's Facebook page, you will find many additional tips in the threaded conversations and "Files" section of the site.

Feel free to contact us with your additional suggestions!

Paper Tips

Paper Tearing
If you are having problems with your thin cut lines tearing, you might try starting with a slightly heavier weight of paper.

Acid Free Paper
Text-Weight Vellum Finish, Canson Mi-Teintes, 98 lb. text, 8.5 x 11 or 19 x 25; Large range of colors. Good for multi-color projects; not so good for adding wet media
Dick Blick: online at

Silhouette Paper
Deep black and matte, white on the reverse.
One UK Source -

Mat tips

Self-healing vs. glass:  most folks use self-healing mats and find them less slippery and kinder to knife blades.  Craft and sewing stores (e.g., Michael’s, JoAnns Fabric) usually carry self-healing mats and offer periodic discount coupons that make the mats quite affordable.

Self-healing mats:

  • Alvin
  • X-Acto – small mat nice for traveling
  • June Tailor board for quilting/cutting:  “it has fabric on one side and a cutting board on the other. It's so quilters can cut, flip it over and iron on the other side. But I use it for small cutting projects when I'm sitting in my recliner. It's not perfect, wouldn't use it for something big, but gives me the option of cutting while I'm in front of the TV.”
  • Olfrey
  • Martha Stewart
  • Staedtler/Helix: “I have a 12x18 that I get from them- holds up better than any other mat I have ever tried.”
  • Olfa 12” rotating mat:  “…it is great for small framed project that are intricate and you have to hit it from multiple directions. Use a 40% coupon at Michaels and it is a good deal.”
  • Fiskars 14x14 rotating mat
  • Basic Grey magnetic mat: “…comes with magnetic ruler and 8 little magnets that come in handy at various times.”

Framing Tips

Floating frames -- typically used to display a paper cutting between two sheets of glass, with no background, so as to make the paper cutting appear to float in the frame when it is mounted on the wall.  Another style of floated cut is to lay down multiple layers of a paper cutting inside a deeper shadow box style of frame. 

Double glass floating frames can be found at many frame and craft stores such as "Michael's" in the US and "Paper Panda" in the UK.  A great source for inexpensive shadow box frames is IKEA, specifically the "Ribba" style.  Shadow box frames will require an extra sheet of glass or acetate to "float" the layers of paper above one another and/or against a background.  Exploded view of the construction of a floated paper cutting in a shadow box.

Copyright ©2017 Guild of American Papercutters. All Rights Reserved.

The Guild is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The operation of the Guild of American Papercutters is accomplished entirely by volunteers, with no member or officer receiving any payment for their work.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software