If Snowflakes Were Horses

We caught up with paper snowflake artist and author Marion Nichols to discuss her latest project, ‘100 Amazing Paper Animal Snowflakes’ — horse snowflake included, of course!

Marion Nichols has published an impressive ten collections of paper snowflakes. Her most recent work is 100 Amazing Paper Animal Snowflakes, published on October 15, 2015 through Quarry Books. Each snowflake template within the book is a work of art, using the image of an animal to create a unique design.

Marion, of course, included a horse in the collection:

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Courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group USA

We caught up Marion to discuss her creations, her artistic life and her horse background.

So how did you come up with the idea to use animals in snowflakes?

I was watching television one evening and cutting a regular paper snowflake — I can’t just sit there in front of the TV, I have to be creating something. I was watching an animal program, and looked at the animals and the snowflake and thought, “I bet I can do that.”

I started with a songbird, and went from there.  I’ve published 10 different snowflake books now.

You mentioned you work at the City Museum in St. Louis. What do you do there?

Definitely look up the City Museum as it’s very unique. Originally I was a volunteer there — I was the “hat lady,” and director of  the Art City section. Mr. Cassilly [museum mastermind and creator] noticed that people liked my little six sided snowflakes, so he built me a little six sided room where I cut snowflakes from recycled paper and tell stories. The museum gets on average about 4,000 visitors a day, so I meet lots of people. The tradition of cutting paper and telling stories is actually quite old; there are many cultures who historically blended these activities on a winter’s evening.

And why snowflakes in particular? How did you get into that art form?

Well, I always have to do something artistic with my hands. I like cutting paper — as I mentioned, every culture has a paper-cutting art form and tradition. Snowflakes aren’t just paper art, either — they are math and language lessons. They teach tessellations and fractals. They show both positive and negative space.

How do you design a snowflake, especially with a shape like an animal?

You can turn anything into a snowflake.  First you fold a six sided snowflake. Then, any shape I use has to fit in that triangle that results from that fold. I’ve found that I need a minimum of four points of contact on the edge of that triangle to keep the snowflake together.

And because we’re always curious… do you have any horse background?

Oh, we had an old racehorse when I was seven! I remember that he was pretty mean. He used to brush me off on trees, and he would hold his breath when you tried to tighten the girth. Needless to say I am not a horsewoman now.

Check out Marion’s animal snowflake book and order a copy! Winter’s not so bad when there’s a way to relate all that snow back to horses, and in a fun, hands-on way.

Go riding!

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