Guild of American Papercutters

 founded 1988

Papercutting Tips

The tips below are suggestions by our members for beginning and advanced papercutters.  If you are a follower 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!


Papercutters use many different types of glue.  Glue sticks may be used for large areas, while fine point applicators may be used to apply liquid glue in precise, small quantities.  Another important glue quality is whether it sticks permanently almost immediately or allows for some re-positioning of the work being glued after application.  Some artists may want all areas of a work glued down tightly, while others, depending on the effect they wish to achieve, may only apply enough glue to hold a work in place.  All glues used should be acid free, archival quality.

"GLUE TIPS" is a recent addition to GAP's resources page.  Below are listed links to glues recommended by some of our members.  We welcome additional suggestions. 

The following link offers examples of polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and neutral PH adhesives:

The following links relate to fine point applicators, with glue included or supplied as desired by the artist:

One example of an acid free glue stick:

NOTE:  Purchases made from can help to support GAP through Amazon Smile.

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.

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