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Papel Picado

Perforated paper is a traditional folk art decoration used to decorate for celebratory occasions in Mexico and Central and South America. Celebrate today by making your own banner.

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  • Light weight paper cut to 10”x10”. Tissue, crepe, and oragami-like paper work well, but you can also use thin paper from magazines. The panel can be smaller but 10”x10” works well for cutting areas with scissors and for visibility.

  • Scissors (a hole puncher is also good for making circles)

  • Craft glue 

  • String or chord. For a 5 panel banner, a 80” long string allows 1” between panels and 12” at each end for tying. 


  1. Fold your 10”x10” paper in half to 5”x10” then fold to 2-1/2”x10” and again to 1/-1/4”x10”. With each fold, carefully match the corners. Trim a curved or angled shape at the short end. 

  2. Unfold the paper back to 10”x10” and fold the top edge of the paper 1/2” down.This top section of the panel is where the paper will fold over onto a banner string and be secured with glue.

  3. Fold the paper again to set it up fo the inner panel design. Fold the panel to 5”x9-1/2”, fold the top down to 1/2” above the base. Fold the paper into a triangle by folding each of the two top edges to meet the lower edges.

  4. Cut out the shapes through both thickness of paper. This will give you a symmetrical design. Diamonds, half circles and triangles and narrow rectangles work well. It’s important to consider the paper vs cut and empty (positive vs negative) spaces. Having a good balance will give your piece physical strength and visual balance.

  5. To create a banner, glue a string to the top of the panel. Lay the panel flat on a surface and set the string in the 1/2” crease. Apply glue to the top 1/2”, smooth is across the surface and fold over the string. Add your next panel to the string, leaving a minimum of 1” between the panels.

Important: like snowflakes, no two papel picados are the same. There are lots of different ways to fold and cut - have fun experimening! Try creating papel picado flags!



Papel picados frequently have themes or tell stories with their designs. Be inspired by things you care about and the world around you. Common themes include birds and floral designs.You can design templates to make multiples panels of the same design. 

  1. Cut a 5”x10” regular thickness piece of paper for the template design.

  2. Draw a horizontal line 1” from the top to mark the TOP area that will be secured to the banner string and should not be cut.

  3. Draw a design as solid shapes, keeping in mind that it will be symmetrical and mirrored for the papel picado. Make the shapes large enough that you can cut them out with a scissors and leave enough space between the shapes so the paper wont get too flimsy when it is cut. If you have a hole puncher, you can incorporate small circles in your design.

  4. To make your papel picado, fold a 10”x10” piece tissue paper in half. Place the template over it and cut out the design. 

  5. To make the banner, create several panels. Lay the a panel flat and place the string at the 1/2” fold at the top. Apply glue to the top 1/2” and spread it around gently. Fold the 1/2” top over to secure the string. Space panels at least 1” apart.

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"My work represents an awakening and admiration for Culture and tradition with a modern twist, an appreciation of paper, with all its complexities, simplicities and versatility.

Since the beginning of my journey with Papel Picado, I focused on transforming the indigenous craft into an innovative modern Mexican-American art. I focused in the re-introduction of a traditional, beautiful, ancient, dying art.  In order to reach out to a vast audience, I set out to produce work relating to modern day themes and topics that affects humanity.  


My work represents my personal struggles and reflections with politics, cultural awareness and simply growing up Mexican American. All my paper cuts are never quite pre-planned or pre-illustrated, I simply improve the cut where my hand drives me.

My goal as an artist is to continue creating bridges with Papel Picado that connect us all through appreciation of culture awareness and the preservation of indigenous people and their art." 

10"x10" tissue paper is shown for this project, but you can modify the size

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