By Christina VanGinkel
With paper crafts all the rage these days, and an admitted paper fanatic myself, I am always intrigued when I come across yet one more way to use the supplies I already possess. Paper Piecing is just such a hobby. It is actually a way to make objects to be used in other paper related crafts, such as card making and scrapbooking. To set the record straight as to what I am referring to herein as I talk about Paper Piecing, I am not talking about the craft that involves fabric, per se, but the craft that involves taking pieces of cut paper and piecing them together to make a single object.
To provide a more detailed explanation of what a paper piecing is, consider a piece of clipart that you might have on your computer. A funny picture of a dragon made up of several different colors, or a stunning flower design, with stem and petals, any general clipart picture. If you look at clipart picture that catches your fancy, you will realize that each are made up of many smaller sections of color. Paper Piecing is essentially when you take pieces of paper in assorted shapes and colors, and assemble them into what looks just like the clipart, except instead of being drawn, or just on the computer screen, you now have the embellishment right in front of you made up of the different pieces of paper, hence the name Paper Piecing.
Paper piecing has essentially been done by hand with scissors through the years, though some people now use cutting machines, such as the Wishblade, Craft ROBO, or Pazzles for creating the individual sections of paper. The pieces, no matter the manner in which they are cut though, will still need to be assembled by hand, to make the finished product itself. The machines can take the sometimes hand numbing chore of cutting lots of small, often intricate pieces, and make it as simple as finding the pattern you want to create, and choosing the colors of paper you wish to cut the pieces from.
As with any craft, there are always those who are looking for ways to impart their own style into the craft, and paper piecing is no exception. A trend with some crafts people is to make the edges of the paper rough, so that the finished piece has the appearance of being three dimensional, instead of just a flat piecing of paper. A good example of this is a bear I saw pieced together. Each individual piece of the bear, his head, body, and limbs, were all roughed on their edges, so when the parts were assembled, he looked like a fuzzy bear, instead of just a flat assembly.
Patterns are available free in many places online, and from alternative outlets, such as color books. Almost any color book picture can be used as a pattern for a paper piecing. Books on the subject are not abundant, and if you do come across a title that refers to paper piecing, chances are it actually is about quilt patterns made of paper and pieced together. One book that I have found is '202 Paper Piecing Patterns', by Annie Lang. If you want to see some fantastic paper piecing, be sure to check out this book. Some books on card making or scrapbooking may include sections on the craft, and offer tips for personalizing any pattern that you attempt. Supplies are abundant though, and can be found in any craft department that carries other paper crafting supplies. A good quality pair of scissors or a cutter is your main tool. Glues for affixing your pieces together should be acid free, archival safe, especially if you want your hard work to last longer than a short span of time. You can also use brads and eyelets to assemble paper pieced animals and people, allowing you to pose them after they are complete. With all the creative patterned papers now available, thanks to the surge in interest in other paper related crafts, mostly scrapbooking, there are also many patterned papers available to make any paper piecing you might attempt that much more interesting. Adding embellishments is also an option to give your finished pieces a unique flair.
If you are looking for a simple, yet enjoyable hobby, give paper piecing a try. It is perfect for all ages, young, and old alike. Be warned though, that like many of the crafts that involve paper, it can be addictive!