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Creating layered paper projects and shadow boxes out of cardstock with your Cricut is one of the most popular Cricut projects! We’re sharing a ton of tips, tricks and ideas so that you’ll be making 3d layered paper art with your Cricut like a pro! Includes over 50 layered paper project SVGs!
Hi Crafty Friends!
One of my very favorite things about my Cricut is that I could easily craft with it for the rest of my life and never run out of new things to make with it. Cricut machines are just so much fun!
I’m constantly learning, experimenting, trying new materials and having fun with my cutting machines!
Recently, the amazing crafters in my Cricut Facebook Group started sharing their incredible layered paper projects! I was blown away by how beautiful they were.
Besides cards, I haven’t been a huge paper crafter, so I was really excited to start experimenting with cardstock and my Cricut and see what I could make.
It didn’t take long and I was hooked! Here are the projects that I made in just the first few weeks of experimenting making Cricut shadow boxes and 3D layered paper projects.
They were all so fun to make, and relatively simple to accomplish. I also love that the supplies that you need to make them are low cost and easy to source.
They make great gifts. I’ve started using them in place of greeting cards! Add an extra solid layer on the back and write your message inside! They also make stunning home decor pieces!
In this post I’m going to share tips, tricks, supply lists and links to my favorite 3d shadowbox SVG files! I’m also sharing a tutorial for how to make one of these projects step by step. Ready to learn? Let’s get started!
Cricut 3d Paper Art Supplies
One of my favorite things about creating layered paper projects is that the supplies you need are so easy to find. In fact, many of them are purchases you probably already have in your craftroom, or you can pick up at the dollar store, Amazon or local craft shop. Here are my recommendations.
What You Need To Get Started:
Cricut products for 3d paper projects:
-Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore: Why no Cricut Joy? While technically you could make teeny, tiny versions of these layered projects with your Cricut Joy, I find that the majority of the cut files have very fine details. The smaller or finer those details get, the more likely you are to experience ripping and tearing of your paper.
-Cricut LightGrip Cutting Mat: I suggest using new/newish, clean mats for these projects. You want to make sure that your cardstock is firmly adhering to the mat and that there are no areas where the paper lifts off your mat. If your cardstock lifts, you are more likely to experience a tear.
-Cricut Premium Fine Point Blade: Again, the newer and sharper the better. A dull blade will cause your paper to tear.
-Cricut Brayer tool: You roll your brayer over your cardstock to help make sure every inch of it is adhered to the cutting mat. Especially handy to prolong the usr of your mats as they start to get a bit older and loose some of their stick.
-Cricut Scraper tool: It’s very important to make sure that every last bit of cardstock is removed from your mat before you put the next piece of cardstock down. A scraper will help you remove all of those bits of cardstock in one fell swoop.
Paper for Cricut layered paper projects:
Finding your favorite brands of cardstock is where a lot of the fun comes in. They come in so many colors, weights and textures. I have found the most luck using a 65lb to 100lb paper.
-Recollections Cardstock: If you prefer a smooth cardstock I love Recollections 8.5X11 65lb cardstock. It comes in so many fun colors and cuts really nicely. I love buying big rainbow packs so that I have a huge assortment of colors on hand at all times.
–Dollarama Studio “Construction Paper”: For getting practice and discovering if this is the hobby for you I found Dollarama Studio paper is a favorite. It comes in a pack of 48 sheets in 12 colors for $4. It’s labeled as “Construction Paper” but has the same texture and a similar weight to Recollections Cardstock.
Glue and adhesive for Cricut layered paper designs:
The type of adhesive you use is another area where you will have fun experimenting.
–Foam Adhesive: For adding depth to your projects you will want to use foam pads between your layers of paper. These are two sided and have adhesive on both sides. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I personally use a mixture of foam squares, foam tape strips and foam dots. Between those three and a pair of scissors I find that I can make my adhesive as big or small as I need it. I have found foam adhesive at the dollar store, craft stores and Michaels.
All four of the above projects were created using foam adhesive. The heart design involved cutting the foam adhesive into very small pieces.
–Spray Adhesive: For a flat, very intricate project, like the below anatomical heart project, you will want to use a spray adhesive. This helps you easily cover the entire surface with glue making it possible to stick together areas that are too intricate for foam dots.
–Glue Dots: The final type of adhesive I use for my designs is glue dots. I usually have these on hand in my craft room in a variety of sizes. I love using them for creating the shadowboxes that I put my designs in.
Other supplies for layered paper projects:
Here are a few optional supplies you may want to have on hand for your projects.
–Scissors: These come in handy when you need to cut your foam adhesive into smaller sizes.
–Fairy lights: Many people like to light up their shadowbox projects. Battery operated fairy lights are an easy way to do this.
–Scoring Wheel or Scoring Stylus: If you are making your own shadowboxes these will come in handy for scoring all the lines for where you fold.
–Cricut Spatula Tool: I always forget to use mine, but have been told by many crafters that it really helps for lifting cut paper pieces off of your cutting mat.
-Cricut Weeding Tools: These can come in handy for popping small pieces out of your cardstock. You could also use a craft knife or x-acto knife.
–Cricut Adhesive Vinyl and Transfer Tape: Some shadow boxes will have vinyl designs that you add to your shadowbox layers for an extra embellishment (like the “Teachers Change The World” shadowbox I made.) You will want to have vinyl and transfer tape on hand for this. I used glitter vinyl for my project to add an extra sparkle.
Layered Paper Art Tips and Tricks
Now that you’ve collected all of your supplies, let’s go over some best practices so that you are successful with your layered paper projects from the very beginning.
Tip 1- Have a “paper only” cutting blade: Many crafters have different scissors for different types of cutting materials. For example I wouldn’t dream of using my fabric scissors to cut paper! The same can be said for Cricut cutting blades.
I have one blade that is for paper and another that is for vinyl and HTV. I find that a blade that has been used for vinyl can develop a sticky residue which can cause tears to the paper. I personally tell my blades apart by having them in different colors of housing, but you can also put a drop of nail polish on them to be able to tell them apart.
Tip 2- Check your blade between each cut: The more intricate your designs become, the more likely you are to get small bits of paper stuck in your blade which will result in tears. I remove the blade housing from my Cricut between each cut and carefully check to see if there is any paper stuck housing by lightly pressing the plunger at the top of the housing, revealing the blade.
Tip 3- Use a clean, sticky Cricut LightGrip Cutting Mat: The blue LightGrip mat is what works the best for cardstock. You want to make sure your mat is clean of any debris. Use the scraper tool to scrape away any leftover paper bits. If you have any leftover pieces of paper on your mat, and put a new piece of paper overtop it will create a bump which can result in your paper tearing or miscutting.
Tip 4- Bray your paper to the mat: Roll a brayer tool over your paper once applied it to the mat. This will help to ensure that every square inch of your paper is adhered to the mat and that no areas lift while cutting.
Tip 5- Roll/bend your mat slightly to release the paper: Never peel your paper off the mat. This will result in the paper curling. Instead, gently roll or curl your mat so that the paper pops off of the mat. You will need to work very slowly with intricate cuts to avoid your paper from tearing.
Tip 6- Mirror your design: This tip comes from Vera at Chipola Studios. She says “When cutting a cardstock I like to use the “mirror” mode “on”. Usually the side that faces the mat gets a smoother cut. This side will be shown to the viewer.”
Tip 7- Start with easy designs and work your way up to more complicated: I love designs that are really easy to line up like the designs at Chipola Studios. All of her designs have square edges so all you have to do is line up the squares and your designs are perfectly aligned.
Tip 8- Line up your design before attaching them all together: I suggest that you always lay out your design on your work surface before starting to glue the layers together. Stack it up, make sure all your pieces are there and that they are all turned in the correct direction before starting to adhere them to each other.
Tip 9- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: This saying is especially true with really intricate cuts. Sometimes they just don’t want to cut properly the first (second, third or fourth) time around. If you are experiencing tearing I always suggest trying a new mat and trying a new cutting blade. If that doesn’t work consider making your design larger. If that still doesn’t work you might want to try it with a different kind of paper.
Tip 10- Have fun! Crafting should be fun. If you aren’t having fun, then it’s not worth doing.
Cricut 3d Shadow Box Project Step By Step Tutorial
- Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore
- Cricut LightGrip Cutting Mat
- Cricut Fine Point Blade
- Cricut Brayer Tool
- Cricut Scraper Tool
- Adhesive of choice (check out my suggestions in the supplies section above)
Step 1: Upload your design to Cricut Design Space or choose a design from within Design Space. Insert images onto your canvas. Hint: Search “Mandala” in Cricut Access for some layered project ideas.
Step 2: Size your design by clicking on the design and using the arrows that appear in the bottom right hand corner or by using the sizing tool in the toolbar.
Step 3: Click “Make It”. Mirror each cutting mat (if following Vera from Chipolla’s tip above). In the dropdown menu under each cutting mat select the size of paper you are using. Click continue and then select the type of paper you are using.
Step 5: Load your cutting mat into your cutting machine. Follow the instructions on the screen to cut each color/layer of your design.
To remove the cardstock from the cutting mat, make sure you roll/gently bend your mat so that the paper pops off, instead of pulling your paper off of the mat. This will help you avoid getting curled paper.
Step 6: Lay out your layers on your cutting mat so that they are all lined up in the correct order.
Step 7: Use the adhesive of your choice to attach each layer of your project to the next layer making sure that each layer is properly aligned.
Step 8: Once all of your layers are attached to each other, pop it in a shadowbox or display it in your choice of ways!
Print these instructions for later:
Cricut 3d Shadowbox Project Step By Step Instructions
- Upload your design to Design Space or choose a design from within Design Space. Insert onto your canvas.
- Size your design by clicking on the design and using the arrows that appear in the bottom right hand corner or by using the sizing tool in the toolbar.
- Click “Make It”. Mirror each cutting mat (if following Vera from Chipolla’s tip above). In the dropdown menu under each cutting mat select the size of paper you are using. Click continue and then select the type of paper you are using.
- Load your paper onto your FineGrip cutting mat. Roll your brayer overtop to push it onto your cutting mat.
- Load your cutting mat into your Cricut. Follow the instructions on the screen to cut each color/layer of your design. To remove the cardstock from the cutting mat, make sure you roll/gently bend your mat so that the paper pops off, instead of pulling your paper off of the mat. This will help you avoid getting curled paper.
- Lay out your layers on your cutting mat so that they are all lined up in the correct order.
- Use the adhesive of your choice to attach each layer of your project to the next layer making sure that each layer is properly aligned.
- Once all of your layers are attached to each other, pop it in a shadowbox or display it in your choice of ways!
Over 50 3D Layered Paper Projects and Shadow Box Ideas
You’ve got your supply list, your tips and tricks and instructions for creating and assembling your projects! Now comes the best part!!! Picking your projects!
Before we get started I want to share with you two cut files that I think are a must to help you save money if you are planning on doing lots of shadow box projects.
First is this amazing Cardstock Shadow Box Frame SVG. This cut file and accompanying instructions allow you to make shadow boxes in a variety of sizes out of kraft board or cardstock to display your projects in. All of my shadow boxes in the images in this post are made with this cut file.
Next is this Spacers Cut File. This allows you to make spacers using your Cricut to help add depth to your shadow box designs. This will help your designs really pop!
Now onto the super fun cut files! I’m sharing with you over 50 layered paper project ideas below. Starting with 5 projects that are super simple for beginners.
I’m suggesting designs from Chipola 3D Artwork for the beginner projects because I have tested many of them myself, know they are quality cut files and I love that Vera includes instructions with each of her cut files on now to assemble them.
5 Layered Paper Projects That Are Perfect For Beginners
These cut files all come with written instructions, edges that line up perfects and only have a handful of layers each.
35 3d Shadow Box Ideas:
Shadow box SVGs are a wonderful way for crafters to get their toes wet doing layered designs. The majority of shadow box SVGs have square edges that line up on every layers of the cut file. This makes them very easy to assemble.
Here are 35 designs that I love, that I think you will love too!
20 3d Layered Paper Project Ideas:
No shadow boxes required for these gorgeous 3d layered paper projects! If you are up for a bit more of a challenge then these cut files are for you. These cut files are more advanced because most of them don’t have the square edges that line up easily the way that Shadow Box SVGs have.
Looking for more Cricut fun?
Need advice on how to upload Cricut cut file including PNG files, JPG files, DXF files and other digital file types to Cricut Design Space? Make sure you check out our Cricut Basics- How To Upload Images To Cricut Design Space article here.
If you are looking for more free design resources make sure you check out my post on 75+ Places To Download Free SVG Files.
If you liked this post, I think you’ll also like these Cricut Basics posts.
Tell me… What other questions do you have about layered paper projects?