Quick and Sophisticated Paper Art Silhouette Ornaments

Have you ever made a cootie catcher? A cootie catcher is a piece of paper folded in such a way that you can put your thumbs and index fingers inside and open and close the paper “box” in two directions. Numbers are written on the top and “fortunes” and the like are written under the flaps of the numbers.

paper art silhouette ornament
These paper art silhouette ornaments by Sharyn Sowell
look complex, but they’re actually easy to make.

For the most part, cootie catchers provide giggles for adolescent girls. But it turns out the basic cootie catcher construct can be the basis for paper art silhouette ornaments. These ornaments (which can also be used as gift toppers and card embellishments) turn kids’ amusement into sophisticated handmade paper crafts.

I first saw these silhouette ornaments, by Sharyn Sowell, in Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts 2010-2011. Their appeal still enchants me-as creative paper crafts and as last-minute gifts. Here’s an abbreviated version of the instructions.

Make the Shadow Box

1. Cut a 7″ square of paper.

2. Line the edge of the ruler diagonally across the square and draw the tip of the bone folder along the edge of the ruler to make a score line. Repeat in the other direction, creating an X with the fold lines.

3. Fold the new corners up to meet at the center, making a smaller square.

4. Flip the paper over and fold the corners up to meet at the center.

5. Now fold the tips back toward the outside edge. This fold is to lift the paper and bring dimension to the ornament. You can get different looks depending on how far you choose to fold the paper back.

6. Flip the paper over to the front side and fold the tips at the middle back toward the outside edge. You can trim them, curl them back, add decorative paper to them, or leave them as is.

7. Use rubber stamps, glitter, calligraphy, collage, or anything else that ignites your imagination to decorate the ornament. Snip bits off with fancy scissors; add scraps to vary the shape. Decorate this little canvas as simply or lavishly as you like. Give it your own vibe.

Make The Silhouettes

1. Take a profile photo of a person or a pet. Or, use a copyright-free profile of a favorite animal. Print the photo so the head and shoulders are approximately 1½” x 2″.

2. Print the photo on inexpensive copy paper as it will be thrown away.

3. Use a paper clip to secure the photo to the piece of paper you’ve chosen for the ornament. You’ll want lightweight opaque paper; scraps are perfect.

4. Using small, sharp scissors, carefully cut the profile image from the stacked photo and paper. Remove the photo and paper clip.

5. Cut a 3½” square of cardstock and adhere the silhouette with a tiny amount of glue. Be careful not to get glue on the front of the silhouette.


paper art deer ornament
If you don’t have a profile picture of a person, use the silhouette of an animal.

Assemble the Ornament

1. Lift 1 or more of the front folds carefully and tuck the silhouette into the shadow box. If you want, you can place a gift card, folded money, a thin piece of candy, or some other little treasure behind the silhouette.

2. Fold the flaps back into place. There is no need for glue because the flaps will hold the silhouette nicely.

At this point, you can mount the silhouettes on card stock and frame them or use them as the focal point for handmade cards. Or, you can continue to the next step  for making an ornament.

3. Snip off a piece of wire. A generous basic loop can be fashioned from a piece roughly 6″ long, but you can shorten or lengthen it as you like. Bend a tight curl on one end of the wire with the pliers. Poke a hole in the paper and insert the wire under one of the folds of the ornament. Pull the wire through, and bend it into a curve or curl.

4. If desired, decorate another 3½” square of paper as you like and glue it to the back of the ornament.

How easy is that? These silhouette ornaments are just one of many creative paper crafts, fabric crafts, and mixed-media projects in Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts 2010-2011. Many of these projects can be create in a short period of time, making them perfect last-minute gifts and home décor.

Download these issues now, and you’ll have all your handmade gifts done in no-time.

P.S. Did you make coote-catchers as a kid? Did you call them something else? Relate your story below.


3D Art and Assemblage, Blog, Easy Gifts to Make, Mixed-Media Techniques, Paper Art and Zen Doodle


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.