Let’s learn about paper cutting

Paper Cutting with Pallets, Paper and Paint

Paper Cutting: What is it?

I’ve always been fascinated by intricate pieces of art. No matter what form it’s in, art is amazing. There is no right or wrong way with art. You can make it your own, no matter the medium that you are choosing. Paper cutting is no different. It can be as simple or as intricate as you want it to be. It can be one color or multiple. The choice is yours. And that may just be what draws me to it the most.

Paper cutting can be dated back as far as the 4th century. As soon as the Chinese invented paper, there was paper cutting. The earliest uses for paper cutting include religious decorations or stencils used for patterns in embroidery.

It was popular among society women, but its popularity quickly spread to all classes. Paper cutting practices range from skilled craftsman (which one day I hope to accomplish) and to its revolution into the folk art world.

You can display paper cut designs in windows as paper lanterns or even in a simple frame. There are many cultures that use paper cutting in many different ways. Some use it as part of celebrations, such as banners. Most popular are the Papil Picado banners in Mexico. Haven’t we all had a banner at a birthday party, or baby shower or some form of a party?

Paper cutting silhouettes became very popular in England during the Middle Ages. It became its own art form. I don’t think I’ve been to a museum where I didn’t see at least one Victorian silhouette, have you? I remember making them in grade school for a Mother’s Day project.

So no matter if it’s a simple design like a silhouette or a birthday banner, or an intricate design like a stencil or a lantern, paper cutting is ever evolving. You just need some basic tools and a little bit of skill. Mostly to keep your hand steady!

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How do I begin?

Let’s gather a few simple materials to begin. I found all the materials lying around my house. Even if you’re not a crafty person I bet you could still find them in your home.

  • Cutting board – I use self-healing mats but a hard smooth surface cutting board would work. Or even just a piece of cardboard. You want to protect the surface that your cutting on.
  • Scalpel with extra blades – xacto knives work well
  • Cardstock or paper works well. The thinner the paper the easier it is to cut. But keep in mind, the thinner the paper, the more delicate your results.
  • Glue Stick or removable adhesive
  • Masking tape
  • Design image – easily found w a Google image search
  • Plain white paper or contrasting color to your cardstock/paper
  • Ruler

paper cutting materials

Once you find an image print it out. Or you could draw it, if you have that talent. I find printing an image is easier so I don’t have to erase any lines when I’m finished. Line art from the 1900’s works well and should be out of copyright depending on your countries laws.

Let’s begin by using either a glue stick or removable adhesive to stick out image onto our card. You want to make sure its a removable adhesive because you want to take your printed design off once you’re done cutting. You could also use painters tape and tape just the corners if your design allows. And if you’re drawing your design you would obviously skip this step.

Decide which parts you want to cut out. Think positive or negative views. Keep in mind that any bits without a few supports will bend and break easily. Try to find designs that are all connected.

You can start cutting anywhere you choose. There is no right place or wrong place to begin. Sometimes it is easier to move the paper rather than the blade. Especially for those sharp turns, it makes it a smoother cut. After each cut, remove the cut paper. You don’t want it to slide under your design and cause problems with any other cuts.

If you slip and make a wrong cut, it’s an easy fix with some double-sided tape or even some glue. Once your design is all cut, remove your printed design, and you want to put it onto a contrasting piece of card or paper. If you cut it out of black for the silhouette effect, put it on a white sheet of paper to really make it pop out. Or if it’s a night scene with a moon perhaps put it against a blue or even yellow back ground. You could have a lot of fun and put it against a watercolor background of multiple colors. There really is no wrong way to put art together. You have your fundamentals and your talent and when you put them together, there’s no telling what you’ll create.

***full disclosure….I did not do well with this paper cutting attempt lol. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t even get any pictures of my results because it was just shredded lol Next time I will choose a let intricate design.

I hope you had as much fun with this as I did. I’m off to find some more pretty pictures I can attempt to cut. As always, I love to see your creations. Find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Share your wins and fails with me. Please tell me I’m not the only one whose hands aren’t steady enough for this???

*****this post contains affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commision if you click through and make a purchase****

7 thoughts on “Let’s learn about paper cutting

  1. Love your disclosure. That’s usually how my projects turn out. I jump in to more complicated projects and #pinterestfail. I really want to go make some paper lanterns now. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. This is such a beautiful idea! I like to incorporate my kids’ art into my home decor and I love all of the ideas you are giving me for summer projects. Thank you!

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