Planning a party or special gathering? Take your table decor up a notch with a paper-cut menu tent that’s both practical and fashionable. In the step-by-step tutorial below, artist Paige E. Martin shows you how to add extra dimension to a menu tent with easy paper cutouts and collaged papers. Whether you’re creating for a birthday party, backyard barbecue, Halloween party, tailgate, Thanksgiving dinner, wedding, or other upcoming occasion, this tutorial gives you all the know-how you need to create menu tents for any style and theme! This project first appeared in our Paper Art 2014 special magazine issue.
Paper-Cut Menu Tent by Paige E. Martin
Some of the most intriguing paper-cut designs are dimensional. My favorite method for adding dimension involves layering cut paper with mounting tape, instantly enhancing the design by adding shadows. Use this technique to create a custom motif that you can add to a welcome sign, menu display, thank-you notes, and more. This project is for a menu tent decorated with leaf shapes, featuring chalkboard paper that allows you to write notes with ease.
- Paper, heavy-weight, 4 sheets including a 20″ x 9 1/2″ sheet (I glued together 2 pieces of cardstock from French Paper Company for my large sheet.)
- Ruler, metal edge
- Craft knife
- Cutting mat
- Foam mounting tape (I used industrial-strength foam mounting tape from Uline®)
- Chalkboard paper
- Decorative papers
- Tape, double-sided
- Scrap paper
1. Create a unique template. Simple designs will make the cutting process easier. I created leaves in various sizes. (FIGURE 1)
2. Mark the halfway point on the back side of the large piece of cardstock to determine the front and back panels. Fold the cardstock in half.
3. On the back side of one panel, measure and mark the chalkboard area to your desired size.
4. Measure and mark a border of at least 1/4″ on the outside of the chalkboard area and on the edges of the front panel.
5. Trace your design templates in the space between the borders. Be aware that designs that are too close together can reduce the strength of the paper once cut, making the project more difficult to assemble. (FIGURE 2)
6. Note the areas where the designs cross into the 1/4″ borders. Erase any designs that are within the marked borders, or outline the areas of the designs that will be cut using a pen that will not bleed through the paper.
7. Using the craft knife, carefully cut out the designs, making sure not to cut beyond the borders. Cut slowly and turn the paper as you work, periodically removing the loose cut shapes. If a cut shape cannot be easily removed, recut the outline. Periodically flip the menu over and look at your cuts. Once finished, clean up any paper tufts.
8. Cut out the chalkboard area, cutting against the ruler if needed. (FIGURE 3)
NOTE: When creating paper cuts it is best to cut small shapes first as it reduces the likelihood of the paper tearing or creasing as you work.
9. Add foam mounting tape to the back of the front panel around your designs and on the 1/4″ borders. As you add the mounting tape, flip your work over and note areas where the paper is weak and needs support. Use a craft knife to cut the foam tape into smaller strips or thin pieces to fit in these areas. (FIGURE 4)
10. Cut the chalkboard paper slightly larger than the opening. Remove the backing from the mounting tape and adhere the chalkboard paper, making sure it’s taut.
11. Audition and then adhere the decorative papers underneath the cut shapes. (FIGURE 5) I created decorative papers by gluing patterned tissue to scraps of paper and painting book pages.
12. Cut 2 pieces of cardstock to the dimensions of the front and back panels, cutting the height 1/4″ – 1/2″ shorter. Apply double-sided tape to the back of the front and back panels. Adhere the cardstock to the panels to reinforce the menu, aligning the cardstock with the outer edges.
13. Stand the menu tent on a table and decide how tall it should be. Turn the menu tent to its side and measure the base of the triangle. Add 4″ to that measurement and cut a piece of cardstock to size to create the stand. Cut the width of the stand roughly 3″ smaller than your panel width. My stand was 12″ x 6 1/2″.
14. Measure and mark 2″ down on either end of the stand and fold at these marks.
15. On a scrap of paper as wide as the panel and a third of the height, cut a semi-circle in the middle using the craft knife. This will be the slot for the stand to rest in.
16. Using double-sided tape, adhere a folded end of the stand to the back side of the front panel.
17. Place double-sided tape around the outer edges of the paper with the semi-circle and adhere it to the other panel with the slot pointing out. (FIGURE 6)
18. Write your menu, slip the loose end of the stand into the semi-circle slot, and enjoy your gathering! Consider saving any intact shapes to use as table decorations. (FIGURE 7)
A paper-cut tent also makes a great addition to art booths! Check out our editorial director Jeannine Stein’s latest Studio Saturday blog for tips for selling at art and craft fairs, including how to prepare, booth design, selling techniques, and more.
Formerly the Assistant Editor of Special Projects for Cloth Paper Scissors and Content Producer of The Mixed-Media Workshop, Paige E. Martin is an avid bookmaking and paper-cut artist. Check out her Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop on bookbinding, and visit her website for more about her artwork: paigespaper.com.