Q. Will you be presenting your work or demonstrating your technique any time soon?

A. Here is a listing of upcoming and recent presentations:

Current and Upcoming Events

December 16, 17 & 18, 2015, 10:00am - 3:30pm
Art Spree - Paper Snowflake Exhibit and Demonstration
Illinois Artisan Store in Downtown Chicago
James R. Thompson Center Atrium

October 15 & 16, 2015, 10:00am - 3:30pm
Art Spree - Paper Snowflake Exhibit and Demonstration
Illinois Artisan Store in Downtown Chicago
James R. Thompson Center Atrium

Recent Events

April 26, 2014, 9:30am, 1:00pm
Paper Snowflakes: The Majesty and Mystery
Episcopal Diocese of Chicago Women's Conference
Palmer House, Chicago, IL

December 7, 2013, 9:00am
Snowflakes & Stories
Adler Planetarium
More information

December 19, 2013, 6:00 - 10:00pm
Adler After Dark (Demonstration)
Adler Planetarium
More information

July 12, 2013
Karitos Christian Arts Festival
Wheaton Academy, West Chicago, IL

October 2012 through February 2013
"When Nature Talks" Exhibit
Southern Illinois Art and Artisans Center
Rend Lake in southern Illinois

Saturday, December 1, 2012
"Snowflakes and Stories"
Paper snowflake demonstration in conjuction with the story of the "Snowflake Man" and the world's largest snowglobe.
Adler Planetarium - Chicago, IL

September 2, 2012, 10am-4pm: Demonstration
Southern Illinois Art and Artisans Center
Rend Lake in southern Illinois

Free admission

July 13, 2012: Demonstration and exhibit
Karitos Christian Arts Festival
Wheaton Academy, West Chicago, IL

January 23 - 27, 2012: Exhibit and Sales
Illinois Artisans Shop - James S. Thompson Center Atrium
100 West Randolph Street  
Chicago, IL

January 13 - 14, 2012: Demonstration, Exhibition and Sales
Illinois Artisans Program - Water Works Visitors Center
Corner of Michigan and Pearson
Chicago, IL

December 2011 through January 2012: Exhibit
Grace Lutheran Church
River Forest, IL

December 2010: Exhibit
Orland Park Library
Orland Park, IL
(Photo below)

I will post infornation on any upcoming exhibits or presentations as soon as the information is finalized.

Orland Park Public Library exhibit, December 2010

The display at Orland Park Public Libary, December - 2010. There were 24 of my works, a display of my folding method, photos of real snow crystals taken by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, and sample folding/cutting instruction sheets.

Q. What's this about a special paper snowflake for the Sandy Hook/Newtown students?

A. Just before Christmas, 2012, three people that know of my work told me about a project sponsored by the Connecticut PTA. They were asking for people to send paper snowflakes to decorate the shool building where the Sandy Hook Elementary School students would be going after the holiday - to create a "Winter Wonderland." I started thinking about what I could do, and decided to create a snowflake that would honor the lives of the 26 victims of that tragedy. The story of this snowflake was picked up by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times  and was also posted to the Wheaton College (my employer) Facebook page.

Q. What is the Illinois Artisans Program?

IAP logoA. For 25 years the IAP has been an initiative that focuses national attention on the rich heritage of the fine crafting that exists in Illinois. They market crafts through Illinois Artisans shops located in the James R. Thompson Center, Chicago; the Museum Store at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield; the Museum Shop at the Dickson Mounds Museum; and the Southern Illinois Artisans Shop at Rend Lake. My work is currently on display and for sale at the Thompson Center and Rend Lake locations. IAP website

Q. Paper snowflakes?

A. Yes. Paper snowflakes. Ever since my brother came home from kindergarten with a couple of them, I have been fascinated with their symmetry, precision and beauty. I asked him to show me how he had learned to fold the paper for a six-pointed flake (To download an instruction sheet for how to fold a six-pointed flake, click here and to download helps for making the 30 degree folds, click here.) Every Christmas since that time many years ago, I have spent time making snowflakes to put up as decorations for the holidays. My brother hasn't made any!

Q. What kind of paper do you use?

A. For years I used plain paper and scissors to make my snowflakes. If you fold the paper the way I do, you are cutting through 12 layers of paper. If you've ever tried to cut that many layers of regular bond paper, you know how much strength it takes and how the paper has a tendency to twist as you try to cut.

Several years ago I made two discoveries that changed everything. The first was tracing paper. It is thinner yet is strong enough to stand the rigors of cutting. The second discovery was the use of an X-acto knife. With thinner paper and a precision cutting instrument, I found that I could cut much more intricate, interesting and creative designs.

Q. Why six pointed snowflakes and not 4 or 8 points?

A. Mainly because that's the structure of a real snowflake. The more I make, though, the more I like the challenge of making the design work with six points, in the same way that a poet chooses a particular form (haiku, limerick or sonnet) that has a specific structure. Working within that framework (or limitation, depending on your perspective) is the creative challenge.

Q. Who is Wilson Bentley and why were you talking about him on Moody Radio?

A. In 1885 Wilson Bentley was the first person to photograph a snowflake. His success was the result of a rare combination of observation, patience, dedication and creativity. He was a man with a passion to understand and enjoy the created world around him. He was also very generous, more than willing to share his beautiful discoveries with anyone who asked. February 9, 2005 was 140th anniversary of Mr. Bentley's birth, and I was interviewed by phone (at 6:00am... yawn) on Moody Radio to explain about this remarkable man and about the inspiration he is for me and many others. I also had the chance to talk a little about the work that I do with paper snowflakes. More information on Wilson Bentley.

Q. Do you make and sell snowflakes just at Christmas time?

A. I make them pretty much year-round. Of course there is a bigger demand during the holiday season, but I have made ones for Valentine's Day and other occasions throughout the year. You can contact me at any time at 630-898-4017.

Q. How long does it take to make one of your creations?

A. Depending on the complexity of the design it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to do the cutting. On some designs I have spent significant time researching ideas from books and illustrations. Others I create on the spur of the moment. If the design is intricate it can take 20-30 minutes just to unfold the paper and flatten it out.

Q. Where do you get your ideas?

A. My goal is not necessarily to reproduce the designs in nature, but to have fun with shapes, themes and images. I have received a great deal of inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture and window designs. I have recently done some research into Celtic designs. I have made flakes using a person's initials, basic geometric shapes, musical notation and letterforms. I'm always looking for new ideas, and I do special orders for folks who want a unique gift for a family member or friend.


Q. Do you sell your snowflakes?

A. Yes. I sell them mostly privately, but occasionally I will display my work at an art or craft show. To see an example of paper snowflake framed in a 16 x 20 inch metal frame click here.

Q. Do you take special orders?

A. I consider it a privilege when someone asks me to make a snowflake for a friend or family member. If you contact me I will be glad to discuss this further with you.

Q. What is the cost of your snowflakes?

A. Lately many of my works display best in a 16" x 20" metal frame with a black matte finish and the price for this size is $120. Other framing options are available for additional cost. To see an example of paper snowflake framed in a 16 x 20 inch metal frame click here. For the creation of a custom design, there is a design fee of $20-30, depending on the complexity of the project.

Q. Do you know of any good websites regarding snowflakes... paper and otherwise?

A. Here is a brief list of some of the best resources I've come across:

  • Excellent video on the formation of snowflakes

  • Video about Kenneth Libbrecht of CalTech who studies snow crystals.

  • Virtual paper snowflakes - Cut out a virtual snowflake. There's nothing to sweep up! (incredible example of Flash animation!) CLICK

  • Watch a snowflake crystal grow... before your eyes! CLICK

  • New photos of snowflakes... in brilliant color! CLICK

  • Snowflakes under the electron microscope. CLICK

Q. What is "kahnjee.com"?

A. I've spent a total of 18 years living and working in Japan. The Japanese word for their complicated writing system is "kanji" which is pronounced "kahnjee". These stunning graphic characters, which are actually imported from China, are not letters but actually symbols that represent ideas or concepts. All my life I have been inspired by these "word pictures" and I have chosen this word to summarize and symbolize the variety of creative services that I can provide.

All designs and images copyright 2002 Les Barker. Any unauthorized use of the designs and images is prohibited.