I first read about the art of papercutting a few years ago, and went so far as to contact a few artists with the intention to write a story on the art for a website I used to edit. The story didn't end up happening since I left as an editor last year, but since this art form has popped up as a trending topic in the crafting community recently, I thought I'd share some of the resources I gathered at the time. I spoke with several artists about their work in papercutting, and I've featured three of my favorites below.
for her delicate, intricate designs. I love the intelligence and thought that is behind each of her pieces, as well as the minute, feathery details and suggestion of movement in each one. This California-based artist's wonderful blog The Heart of Papercutting is full of generous links and resources for anyone who might want to try out papercutting for themselves, and it was her work that inspired me to try my hand at it.
I attempted to cut two of the storybook children she designed (as pictured above) with a craft knife and self-healing mat, and surprised myself by finishing within a matter of hours with each one. Though my Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan have sadly slightly misshapen hands and are a bit rough in spots here and there, I think they turned out pretty well for a first attempt, and it was a really satisfying project to try. I finally got around to mounting the two children this week, and put them in wooden frames that I painted a slightly pearlescent grey.
Along with prints of her work, Elsita now also carries simple patterns in her Etsy shop for beginner papercutting enthusiasts, which is a much easier way to learn this beautiful craft than the way I went about it. She also offers her original papercuts for sale through Three Graces Gallery, and the complexity and subtle mystery in her work is truly unforgettable.
Su alerted me last year that her artwork would be included in a Slash: Under the Knife, a group exhibition at Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and I popped in to see it last fall when I was visiting friends. The exhibit was really wonderful (even if I blanched at the admission price to the museum...oh, New York!) and I was glad to see some of Su's work in person. The exhibit just closed this spring, but you can view more of her work on her website or on her blog.
Cindy Ferguson is a graphic designer and artist who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. She says, "I
Cindy's Scherenschnitte blog is updated frequently with updates on her most recent projects, as well as with tutorials and free templates to download. Cindy also accepts commissions for custom silhouettes and artwork through her cindymindypindy Etsy site. My very favorite of her creations happens to be her custom piece for a man who wanted a papercut for his wife, whose favorite film is Pride and Prejudice. It features the moving quote featured in a pivotal point, "It taught me to hope," said he, "as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before." I can't even imagine the amount of discipline and fine motor control that Cindy had to use in order to carve out the lovely text. I love all the details in this papercut, from the stripes in the Elizabeth's skirt to the hands in motion to the perfect frame provided by the trees.
Please do visit all three artists online for papercutting inspiration and beauty--the patience and artistry required for each complex work of art is incredible..and perhaps you'll even be inspired to try out this beautiful craft on your own. Photographs courtesy of the individual artists.
As I was editing this post, I realized that all three of the artisans featured have created artwork centered around books and fairy tales--no wonder I was drawn to them! (Incidentally, Hans Christian Andersen was also very well known for traveling around and telling stories to children while snipping away with scissors to create instant papercuts while he was spinning tales. The book The Amazing Papercuts of Hans Christian Andersen features many of his papercuts, and if you're a fan of his writing, it's nice to learn more about this lesser-known talent.) Two things I really love, books and craft, come together in perfect harmony.