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How to Make German Crafts

Things You'll Need:

  • Paper--Black or White, Origami paper works well
  • Scissors or Exacto knife
  • Cutting mat

Germany is famous for the quality and detail of its traditional handicrafts. Traditional motifs that incorporate natural elements are still popular, adorning clocks, Christmas decorations (which are almost synonymous with German crafts), and even candy. Also,, while becoming proficient at any German handicraft (or Handarbeit) can take a lifetime, some paper crafts can be undertaken with only a few supplies and a few basic skills.

Scherenschnitte, or paper cutting, has a long history in German handicraft and remains popular. Anyone who has created a cutout chain of gingerbread men has seen Scherenschnitte at its most basic level. Traditional Scherenschnitte, however, can be extremely ornate and rich with silhouetted graphic elements such as scrollwork, vines, and people.


Choose a design. Look through books or on the Internet. Free templates are available at http://papercutting.blogspot.com/. Choose a simple design for your first project, and remember that this is essentially a silhouette. When evaluating ideas for your design, look for ideas that emphasize shape and line and not shading or color values.

Create a template by printing or tracing your design and cutting it out with scissors.

Prepare the Work Surface.Tape the cutout template to the Scherenschnitte paper. If you want to use a dark paper for your project, use a two-sided paper with a light side and tape the template to the back of the project. If you are using this method, and your project contains letters or numbers, remember to position the template backwards so that the final cut letters will read properly.

Cut the project. With your small scissors or Exacto knife work from the inside of the project to the edges, removing the paper according to your design.

Display your work. Folded Scherenschnitte makes beautiful inexpensive Christmas ornaments. Scherenschnitte projects can also be mounted on a contrasting background and framed to beautiful effect.


Start small. As with many handicrafts, the basics of Scherenschnitte are easy to learn, but intricate paper cutting takes practice. Also, use a good quality paper such as origami paper that cuts well.

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