I love paper snowflakes. No matter how many I make, I still never really know what it is going to look like when I unfold it. The best day of my winter break was cutting snowflakes while watching Pirates of the Caribbean with the girls (they made about 4 each...and I made 30). I think I'm an above average snowflake maker, and I attribute my snowflake making skills to this book:
I specifically remember the cover design--those clover shapes on the outer edge were very tricky
I got Rose Windows and How to Make Them for Christmas a very long time ago. Do you know how to make Rose Windows out of tissue paper? You basically layer 6+ colors of paper, strategically cut so that when lined up on top of each other they yield the pattern of the window. They are all folded to an eighth. The lighter colors have pretty minimal cuts, but the darker hues....pretty crazy stuff.
Mine are all gone. This is from novanatural, where you can still buy the book
Rose Windows were probably the first truly tedious craft I accomplished. Back in the stone ages, I had to trace all the templates, then cut all the layers of tissue. The level of detail was excruciating (I think I was in 5th grade....) and without all the fabulous offerings of a Michaels I used manicure scissors. I believe I only finished 2 or 3...the copying really got me. But the cutting, the importance of negative space and a general idea of what a certain cut will yield when unfolded have stayed with me.
The next pivotal change occurred in high school, when I finally changed to the 6 sided snowflake; for whatever reason, I had just folded into eighths and never really challenged it. The head of the English department had 2 daughters who were, apparently, really into paper snowflakes and he would make everyone try them in Senior English sometime around the holidays. His key tip was folding into sixths (you can see the instructable here), which is more scientifically (or popculturally?) accurate for snowflakes and avoids them looking too square. Folding into thirds is a little harder, since you are guessing where to fold, but it gets easier to eyeball with time. If you aren't great with angles and don't have a protractor, you can use this method from AlphaMom:
What I find interesting is that most people have a distinctive style. Last time I went home for the holidays, I noticed my sister Audrey's snowflakes. They were lovely but SO different from my own. I couldn't have copied them if I tried. Its like handwriting or doodling. I tend to stick with pretty straight lines for a geometric look but this year, I tried to branch out a little and mix in some curves (since I was making, like, a hundred of these things).
More doily than mine seem to go.....Oh Happy Day Giant Snowflakes (they use Butcher Paper)
I use standard printer paper but generally speaking, thinner is better so long as it isn't too fragile; good scissors are key. I've learned that printer paper is a little thick for younger kids, but I try to get the girls to power through. Coffee filters are a nice alternative. I have yet to iron my snowflakes flat, and just go over each fold to flatten it out. But I think I may iron them (the real sign of a paper snowflake psycho) if I complete my snowflake table covering.
It started as a plan for a runner (for a certain Frozen themed party that did not happen), but now I'm liking a full cover. I was thinking it would be fun for a casual dinner party, and you could just toss it at the end of the evening. Little bits of scotch tape on the underside will keep them together. Having laid this out a couple times now, I suggest starting in the middle of the table and working out.
Tablecloth or bare wood? I have a Navy dupioni one....
Hits and misses....with this many they don't all need to be perfect
I used to really hate all the snowflake templates that showed up on my Pinterest feed every winter (like this or this). Seemed like cheating. But upon reflection I think that if you are snowflake challenged, that is not a bad way to start. It is not so different from the rose windows book, so long as you eventually feel free to lose the templates and go out on your own. Making the same snowflake over and over again seems contrary to the activity.