On a recent bad weather day the kids and I sat down to tackle paper weaving. It’s exactly what it sounds like, making pictures by weaving strips of paper in and out of another piece of paper. It’s cheap, fun and easy!
You can weave any type of pattern you like, but pixel art type things work really well. Which is great news for me because the kids need a lot of encouragement to try crafts so incorporating gaming related stuff is a handy way to entice them.
One of the designs we made was a Minecraft pumpkin, and I’m going to show you how we did it. Are you ready? Can you feel the excitement? Let’s weave, people!
What You’ll Need
- Coloured paper, preferably heavier stock than regular paper but not as thick as cardboard. For the pumpkin you'll need one sheet each of orange and black/brown.
- Craft knife
- Graphing paper
- Picture of a Minecraft pumpkin
Step 1: Plan your design
Mark out a 16 x 16 grid of squares on your graphing paper (you could also use regular paper if you’re good at drawing straight lines). If you want to make things easier and more fun later on, number the grid like a game of Battleship with letters across the top and numbers down the left-hand side.
Next you're going to colour in the grid squares where the pumpkin's eyes and mouth will be. This will show you where the black woven strips will need to be on top of the the orange paper (the squares you don't colour show where the strips will be hidden behind the orange paper).
You can turn this part into a game of Battleship...
- Get the kids to call out coordinates on their grid, like G5
- If that’s one of the squares they need to colour in, yell DIRECT HIT!
- If it’s not one of the squares they need to colour in, yell MISS or make the shape of an L on your forehead depending on your style of parenting
When you're done you’ll end up with something that looks like this:
If you want to skip this step altogether, I’ve made one for you to print.
Step 2: Cut vertical slots in the base paper
For the Minecraft pumpkin, the base paper is the orange piece.
Using the ruler, draw a line across the narrow side of the paper about two inches from the top of the page. Draw another one about two inches from the bottom. Mark off every 0.5 inch across each of those two lines, and draw lines between the top and bottom to connect them up. You'll need these vertical lines to be at least 6 inches long to fit the pumpkin design. The exact measurements will depend on the size of your page, but these rough dimensions will work for both A4 and Letter sized paper:
Cut the vertical lines using the craft knife to make slots in the paper.
If you want to use Battleship coordinates to make the weaving easier, lightly mark these along the top and side of your orange paper just as you did on the grid paper when you were planning the design.
Step 3: Cut your weaving strips
For the Minecraft pumpkin, the weaving strips are made from the black paper.
Cut the paper into a dozen strips which are 0.5 inch wide and the length of the narrow edge of the paper. I used a paper trimming tool for this, but scissors would work too.
This is the least fun part of paper weaving, so I recommend going “wheeeeee” as you cut to help maintain enthusiasm at this point.
Step 4: Weave! Weave like the wind!
Okay so now you’re ready to put this bad boy together.
Slide one of the black strips underneath the orange paper. Now refer to the design you made earlier, see how the first black square is at E3?
That’s the slot where you want to poke the black strip up through the orange paper. The square at F3 is black too, so move it across one more slot before sliding it back under. Keep moving the black strip along under the orange piece until you get to K3 and pop that sucker back up on top for one square, then back under until the end of the row.
Next row! Grab another black strip and slip it behind the orange paper, just below the first row. Bring it up through the E3 slot again, but this time you want to bring it across the top for three squares before popping it back under. Got the idea?
Over, under, over, under. That’s all there is to it.
We messed up the second eye a little but kept going, for we are troopers.
Continue on this way, following your design as you go and taping the strips on the back to help keep it all nice and neat. Sing along to the tune of Rawhide. Weaving weaving weaving, keep that paper weaving...
Step 5: Admire your skill
Hooray, you made a pumpkin!
We had fun weaving other kinds of pixel art too...
Why not try a Creeper face, like this person who made it into gift wrap!