Make Paper Gems for Valentine's Day - Tips for Success

Do you remember the tv show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? In all honesty, for years I'd steered clear of making these folded paper gems created by Kate Lilley of the wonderful site Mini-Eco, thinking they would be difficult. But perhaps last month's origami ornaments bolstered my confidence or maybe it was because I noticed an 11 year old had commented on Kate's post that he found them easy. Yes, that was it... if a 5th grader could make them, so could I!

Folded paper gems in red glass bowl

Surprise, surprise... these pretty gems practically fold themselves and are to make. In just an afternoon I had filled a bowl as a Valentine's Day decoration. While cutting and folding, I jotted down a few tips in case you too are on the fence about making a batch. There are five templates to choose from, each comes in two sizes... I tried all of the smaller ones and honestly can't choose a favorite.

Papers for Valentine's Day Crafting

The first thing I did was sort through my paper stash to pull out lightweight pink and red papers. Origami paper works perfectly, as does sculpture or scrapbook paper. I like the sheen of metallic paper too. Most were not full size sheets, so that led to two options - both work well:

1. Print a template on printer paper, cut it out and trace around it on paper of choice. Score lines, referring to printer paper template, fold, and glue.
2. Place printed template paper on top of paper of choice and score both sheets at once. Cut out the scored paper of choice version, fold, and glue.

Paper Gem Supplies

Supplies you'll need:
  • Printed templates
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick - I have new found appreciation for a simple glue stick - it truly did the job justice. (btw, these pics make it look like this post is sponsored by Scotch; definitely not the case)
  • Pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Scoring tool - bone folder (I used the tip of a slotted quilling tool)
  • Cutting mat (an old magazine works great as a cutting and gluing surface - just turn to a fresh page when it gets sticky) 
  • Tweezers - helpful to seal the last tab in place 
  • Additional paper craft products I recommend can be found in my Amazon shop.
Keep a damp cloth handy on which to wipe glue from fingers... the process is less frustrating when you aren't sticking to everything in sight!

Paper Gem Template with Supplies

Score with a metal edge ruler and bone folder if you have them. I used a plastic ruler and the tip of my slotted quilling tool as they were what I had on hand, but a metal edge helps to avoid slips and a bone folder is easier to grip. Speaking of hands, I found making these gems much more hand-friendly than origami. Two reasons: there are never more than two layers to press together and you'll be working with a light touch to not compress the shape.

Folded Paper Gem Ready to Glue

I think these gems would be pretty strung as a garland too, so I'm off to take more papers from flat to fabulous!

folded red paper gems displayed in glass bowl

P.S. To make the corrugated heart in the first photo, I folded a square of printer paper in half and used scallop-edge scissors to cut half of a heart shape, unfolded the paper, then ran it through my hand-held crimper.

All Things Paper is an Amazon and Etsy affiliate.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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