The world at your fingertips: a papercraft challenge

Test your creative skills and celebrate cities of special significance with a Canon PIXMA printer and Creative Park.
Crafter Paula Milner and her husband Dan holding papercraft models of a Japanese castle and Big Ben built from Canon Creative Park templates.

Which once-in-a-lifetime travel moments have filled you with joy? From overseas work placements and cultural adventures with friends to fun family holidays and solo city breaks, memories formed when visiting beautiful parts of the world are all part of the fun. But the best experiences don't end when you return home.

You might have thought papercrafting is just for children, but there are also an array of more challenging designs on Canon Creative Park, including templates of the world's most famous landmarks.

These papercraft buildings would be ideal for a location-themed party or celebration that calls for unique decorations, or could form part of a themed display at home to mark a significant trip. Spending time cutting and crafting is also a great mindfulness activity. Combine it with a traditional feast from the country and local music, and the activity can take on a whole new life.

A crafty couple challenge

Crafter Paula Milner and her husband Dan building Canon Creative Park papercraft templates.

Crafter Paula Milner and her husband Dan have found that papercrafting together is a great way to relax.

Professional crafter Paula Milner, known as The Crafty Lass, and her husband Dan, a Formula One engineer, took on the challenge of making their own favourite iconic landmarks with a Canon PIXMA TS7450a Series printer. Paula has been interested in craft since she was a child, but it was their wedding that boosted her passion for creating. She spent a year hand-making everything for the event, from napkin holders and bunting to hundreds of fabric flowers for the aisle and table decorations. She now designs fabric and runs craft workshops and events.

"Dan is very creative as well and if you give him a project to do, he really enjoys it," says Paula.

"Life can be so busy," Dan adds. "It can be hard to make the time to switch off, especially with two children. This craft activity gave us the opportunity to do just that."

If you'd like to give yourself a challenge and build your own architectural wonders, here's what you'll need, plus some tips and advice from Paula and Dan.

A monitor showing the instructions for building a Canon Creative Park template of a Japanese castle.

Canon Creative Park not only features papercraft projects, but also pop-up cards, greeting cards, calendars and wall decorations. Each template, from the simple to the more advanced, comes with its own set of instructions so you can create something beautiful whatever your skill level.

Pick your favourite travel moment

A laptop screen showing a template of a Dutch windmill available to download from the Canon Creative Park website.

As well as Big Ben, Paula also chose to build a Dutch windmill to remember her travels. "I only lived in Amsterdam for a short time, but it was long enough to make a significant impact," she reminisces. "I just love the culture. My mum also lived in Amsterdam when she was younger, so it meant a lot to make this windmill."

A man holds and admires an assembled Canon Creative Park template of Nagoya Castle in Japan.

Dan chose the historic Nagoya Castle for this challenge, but there are other Japanese monuments to choose from, including Matsuyama Castle, Matsumoto Castle, Shuri Castle and even a mini version of the National Museum of Western Art.

Paula and Dan opted to recreate landmark buildings that they had a personal connection with. Paula chose London's Big Ben, and a windmill to represent the Netherlands as she once lived in Amsterdam. "Big Ben feels massively British and iconic, and I recently took our son Freddie to see it, so it felt even more special to share such a beautiful building together. When I had built it, he knew what it was and it reminded him of our fun day trip to London," says Paula.

Dan chose a Japanese castle after having worked in the country, coincidentally while Paula was living in Amsterdam. "Japan holds a special place in my heart," he explains. "Early in my career, I was lucky enough to have two secondments there for work, and I fell in love with the culture and the ambience," he says. "Spending time walking around parks during cherry blossom season and visiting historic sites, such as Nikko, are memories that will stay with me forever."

Select your landmark building

A Canon Creative Park template of Big Ben emerges from a Canon PIXMA printer.

Big Ben isn't the only London landmark on Creative Park – there's a template for Tower Bridge as well. To bring your country of choice to life with simpler designs, why not opt for flowers or animals that represent the area too?

With so many free templates to choose from, you're bound to find a landmark that has meaning for you. From Rome's Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to Barcelona's Sagrada Familia and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there are lots of papercraft projects to choose from.

Paula suggests linking your choice of template design with birthday party ideas, wedding mementos, bridal showers and more. "It's such a nice idea for parties. Even for a wedding, you could build different significant places to put onto centrepieces, or incorporate a honeymoon destination. That would be a really nice thing for a couple to do, and you could get friends to help you," she says.

Papercraft landmarks could also be a great option for a leaving party, to celebrate an anniversary cruise or to welcome someone home from their travels.

Cut, fold and construct

Hands using a ruler and a pair of scissors to cut out part of a Canon Creative Park template.

Paula and Dan enjoyed the challenge involved in building the landmarks. These more intricate designs can take several hours to complete and focusing your mind on the task can help to lift your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Hands using scissors to cut out parts from a Canon Creative Park template of Big Ben printed on Canon Matte Photo Paper.

Paula was impressed with Canon's Matte Photo Paper. "The quality of the print was amazing," she says. "The level of detail was unbelievable. If you tried to do this papercraft project on photocopy paper, it would never hold its structure."

When you've downloaded your template, ensure you use the right media such as the recommended Canon Matte Photo Paper, which can really make a difference to the final structure.

"I would genuinely recommend using the Canon Matte Photo Paper," Paula adds, "because it folds a lot more easily and holds its structure quite well. I would also definitely suggest spending time on the folding and really making sure your edges are crisp and neat so that when it comes together it wants to go into that shape rather than you having to force it."

Dan agrees that giving yourself enough time for the task at hand will make it more enjoyable, especially when crafting with family and friends. "Set aside more time than is recommended," he says. "This will ensure you don't feel pressure to finish and then rush or make mistakes. Take your time and you'll be amazed at the finished outcome."

Why not print out the instructions and spread the project over several evenings – challenging yourself to create the best building you can and then seeing it all come together will give you a real sense of achievement.

Show off your creation

A papercraft windmill made from a Creative Park template displayed alongside a flag of the Netherlands, a small bike and a pair of wooden clogs.

Your papercraft creation could form part of a themed display alongside souvenirs and mementos of your visit.

A papercraft model of Big Ben positioned on a Union Jack flag.

Paula thinks papercrafting could be a great way to teach children about different countries and cultures. "I really think schools would benefit from this kind of thing," she says. "Last term, my son's class did a project called 'love your local area'. It was about Britain, London and our village. A model of Big Ben would be an amazing object that children could learn from."

Once your hard work is complete and you've assembled your printed travel landmark, it's time to admire your creation. Whether you're planning to hang up your architectural masterpiece, attach it to the wall or use it as a table decoration, there are plenty of ideas for displaying your papercraft.

"We've got a display cabinet filled with books and mementos, so we're planning to put some of Dan's things from Japan in there, to create a theme," says Paula.

Dan and Paula think that this activity is a brilliant tool for learning about other cultures as well as a fun creative outlet. "There is simply so much to learn from different people," enthuses Dan. "There are also so many beautiful sights and sounds to be found, and each time, it reinforces the feeling that we live together in a very special place that we should respect and protect."

Inspired to have a go yourself? Browse the #MadeWithPixma hashtag for more creative ideas and then share your handmade wonders of the world, tagging @canonemea.

Written by Lorna Dockerill

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