If October is orange, November in Britain is most definitely grey. Outside the sky is grey, the morning fog is grey, and inside, I feel grey. I have to remind myself that grey is a tone not a state of mind. In fact grey is a whole spectrum of tonal colour from the most delicate pearlescence through polished concrete, platinum, gun metal and charcoal. Grey exists in an achromatic world and its tonalities have captured history since the invention of the camera obscura.
As I watch the colours fade from the seasonal pallet I wait patiently for the glittering signifiers that winter is here. Winter brings with it the shiny finale to the seasonal calendar with crisp frosty mornings, freezing cold mists, cracked puddles of ice and the hushed quiet of pure white snow scapes.
Winter has it’s own exquisite beauty and the excitement of the first winter snowfall is magical for a brief moment in time. So this month I shall celebrate winter, that huge exclamation mark after the sentence that is November. This year I will shake the icy fingers of Jack Frost, accept his frozen gifts with grace and wait for the first snowflakes to fall…..
In a cloud, a water droplet freezes and takes on a six fold crystalline formation. It shoots out six radials and starts to travel through the cloud. As it travels it bumps into other particles, it moves through different temperatures and humidity’s continuously melting and reforming into complex asymmetrical shapes.
The radials, or arms, each form independently and most snowflakes are visibly irregular; it is estimated that less than 0.01% of snowflakes are perfectly symmetrical. In contrast, it is almost impossible to find an image of an asymmetrical snowflake. It seems that even a snowflake can’t escape our prejudice against perceived imperfection – regular ones look nicer in photos.
It is well documented that it is almost impossible to find two identical snowflakes. In the late 19th century Wilson Alwyn Bently searched for two icy twins as he documented images of over 5000 snowflakes, captured under a microscope. Images from Snowflake Bently.com
There is something very compelling about the imperfect uniqueness of a single snowflake that makes it the perfect motif for home-made Christmas decorations, and the starting point for a new crochet project. Paper cutting is perhaps, unlike bronze sculpture, abstract expressionism and landscape painting, not perceived to be a proper, grown up, artistic endeavour.
So here’s my advise, if you are on the receiving end of withering looks, patronising glances and quiet tutting when you pick up your paper scissors, consider what Henry Matisse, Rob Ryan or Tord Boontje might have to say, then snip away and watch the confetti fall. Image 1. Image 2. Image 3
How To Make a Paper Cut-Out Snow Flake.
I used large A3 sized sheets of paper, but A4 sized printer paper would be fine. First fold in half lengthwise and mark the central point on the folded edge with a small crease. With the folded edge at the bottom fold both edges in so that they are overlapping (see photos) and your paper is folded into 3 equal potions. Fold again bringing all the folded edges together. Crease well. Cut off the untidy bits at the top of your folded ‘dart’.
Now draw your design on the paper. This might take some planning. The most important thing is that your design touches both folded edges and also runs continuously from top to bottom. It might help to shade in the areas you are going to cut away. Then snip with a sharp pair of scissors (I used nail scissors) and unfold. Give it a press – and your done! I have to admit to getting rather obsessed by the paper cutting. but I did manage to create some crochet snowflakes too! We’re going to be making some gorgeous crochet snowflakes at our Christmas Crochet Workshops, along with some other rather cute little seasonal decorations – but if you can’t join us we’ll include a couple of patterns in our next issue of The Mercerie Post which will be out very soon.