Paper art and paper models have long been popular in both
Europe and Asia, but have not been as popular in the United States.
The exception, however, was the period between 1930 and 1945. Paper
was the primary material for toys during both the Great Depression (far
cheaper to produce and to sell) and during World War II (other materials
were sidetracked for the war effort). Not surprising, the 1930s saw
the introduction of cardboard board games (Monopoly), paper dolls (Shirley
Temple), and card models. The period is also notable because of the
rise of the paper toy printed on the backs of cereal boxes.
Paper modeling is a great way to introduce kids to scale
modeling without costing a fortune. For the sites listed below, you
will need a printer that can handle the occasional sheet of cardstock,
but you do not necessarily need a color printer. Some of the models
listed below have color patterns, but you can print in grayscale and
let the kids do the coloring. Paper modeling requires the following
For beginning modeling:
- A good pair of scissors (although standard safety scissors
with the rounded ends will work with the simpler models)
- A glue stick. Of the available glue sticks, the Melissa &
Doug sticks are probably the easiest for youngsters to use and
have a faster set rate. They are triangular and are easier for
small hands to grip and control.
- A set of crayons, colored pens, or pencils.
- White cardstock.
We carry the Melissa and Doug art supplies here at the Toy Station.
For more advanced modelers:
- A good hobby knife and #11 X-acto blades.
- A metal ruler or straight edge for more precise cuts
- A cutting pad (plastic or acrylic sheet that will save your table
top). A good source for a work area is a piece of plexiglass from
Lowes or Home Depot. They provide a clean work surface give a good
place for cutting out pieces and parts, and will save you kitchen
table from glue spots.
- A fast setting paper glue (Elmers will work, but it takes some
time to bond. Glue sticks have a rapid bond ratebut are more difficult
to control, especially on smaller pieces and parts in the model).
Check with your local art supply store (locally in the New River
Valley, talk to the folks at Mish Mish first--great store for modeling
supplies, including heavy guage papers).
- Toothpicks (The best way to spread a thin layer of glue. When
you are gluing paper models, make sure to not over glue. Too much
glue slows down the setting time, gummies up the model, and can
result in "slide"--where the paper parts don't stay in
the exact location where they need to be).
- Wax Paper (the best gluing mat).
- Colored pencils or pens.
- Higher grade art paper...10m or higher gauge. Personally, I like
the hot press papers. They make a nice model, are easier to color,
and react well to glue.
And now to the modeling sites.
Toymaker. (United States) One of our vendors and one our
favorites. In addition to her book of paper toys, she has also published
a wonderful collection of paper toys, including otter paperdolls on
Strut and Girder Type Paper Construction Set (very cool
and does work...although the full set requires a pack of office paper,
24 lb works better than 20 lb, and a couple of ink cartridges) , compliments
Park . The paper projects
are compliments of Canon. Stock up on color ink and white glue. The
projects can be done using standard office paper (24 lb preferable,
20 lb okay). The instructions are written in Japanese, so the projects
will probably require help from either parents or grandparents, but
the quality of design is excellent and most of the projects can be
constructed by looking at the images of the constructed models.
Paper projects hint: Pick up a box of plain toothpicks
the next time you are at the store. You can control the amount
of glue on the tabs by putting a drop of glue on a toothpick and
using the toothpick to spread it evenly on the tab. It solves
the problem of oozing glue when you attach tab A to tab B. A side
note: the same is true if you are building miniatures or a furniture
kit. Glue is easier to work with if you control the flow at the
beginning rather than trying to remove it after it is on the intended
(or unintended surfaces).
Carousel Not to be outdone, Epson also provides free paper
models and toys. The site highlights Epson Aquastation, including
fish models, dioramas, and other cool stuff. As with the Canon site,
the instructions are in Japanese, so there may be some guesswork involved.
Sheep from Rob Ives and Flying Pig, an English company.
Very cool paper animated kits. You will need to use a sharp knife
(preferably a #10 x-acto or another hobby knife) and cardstock for
the projects from Flying Pig, which means that the projects are not
ideal for younger children working alone.
Fokker D.VII. (United States) A model from Fiddler's Green.
While we don't typically do airplane models at the depot, the Fokker
D.VII is an exception (a fondness for Snoopy and the Red Baron). The
instructions are in English and fairly easy to follow.
Other Cool Companies: