Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Step Eight: Paper cutting

Dearest Sylwi,

How are you? What have you been up to? Busy week again? Hope you're managing to squeeze everything in - fingers crossed that the craziness will stop in another couple of weeks. :-)

Step Eight actually sounds like quite a lot! :-) I think this year will fly by!

I've been doing a bit of research on various artists who work with paper for a while now. I've found a handful of artists that I really love, who all use paper for very different types of art. I hope (for some of my 52 steps) to try my hand at what they do and share the work of the artists and my own (probably lame) attempts (ha ha!) with you here. ;-)

This week, I chose paper cutting. Three paper cut artists I have found particularly inspiring this week are Peter Callesen, Elsa Mora and Hina Aoyama. Their work is well worth a browse, if you have a spare 10 minutes! I am in awe of their talent. There are plenty of others too, but these were the guys that influenced me today.

I have to admit, I have tried cutting many times in the past and came to the conclusion that I am simply not the type of person who can do this type of art. I just don't have the patience! Each time I've tried, I've messed up (in a big way) what I was working on. 

Yet, there was something in me that felt dissatisfied... as if, I didn't believe I couldn't do it. I wondered if perhaps I hadn't picked the right subject yet, or wasn't spending enough time on figuring out the technique before starting.

The other day, I came across this fantastic Kiri-e (Japanese paper cut) video on YouTube and it totally inspired me to try again today!

In future, I will try the technique used in the video, with the top layer of paper being the template. Today, however, I traced my design directly onto the paper I was cutting, as my knife wasn't sharp enough to cut two layers and I didn't have any thin paper for the top layer! As it was just a play experiment, I didn't mind if there were pencil marks on the paper.

I did a search for a free butterfly clipart drawing online and used that as my template. 

I traced it onto some paper.

My original intention had been to cut it out of newspaper, but I changed my mind at the last minute as I wanted to do my first one on white paper.

Then, I began to carefully cut it out. 

Although it probably sounds obvious, I've learned that it's important to take my time, cut slowly, turn the paper lots, make small cuts rather than try to pull the knife around corners and make sure the knife is sharp. I think in my eagerness to create, I overlooked all of those points before. :-)

I also realised today that it would have been easier to print the design onto the paper, rather than tracing it! (I only thought about that once I was halfway through though! ha!) :-)

I think the end results far outweigh the effort that I put in. It really was surprisingly simple to do.

My original idea had been to cut very carefully and keep the butterfly attached to the background. I imagined how this could make amazing wallpaper or lamp shades. Once I'd finished though, I was also curious to see what it would look like alone - just the butterfly. As I completed the last cuts to free it from the page, I realised that my hand was shaking from excitement! All I could think was, "do not let the knife slip!" :-)

I really, really enjoyed today. It has given me lots of ideas (hundreds!) of how to use paper cutting - just as itself, or incorporated into other projects. 

It's also given me many ideas for other projects unrelated to paper. Jewelry, material, clay...  I can think how this technique could also work really well in those materials. 

Argh! My head is buzzing! I'm off to write down all these ideas before I forget them! :-)

Hope all's going well with you, sweet thing. Looking forward to seeing your Step Eight! 

Lots and lots of love


  1. I have a Beautiful Blogger Award for both you lovelies over at my "pad" if you want to swing by and pick it up!


    :) Lis

  2. This looks very time consuming... and difficult, but peaceful