Introduction to Papercutting

Did you ever make a snowflake by folding a piece of paper and making cuts in it? That was papercutting! It is a beautiful art form that has endless variations, and Studio 48 now offers papercutting classes for adults so you can also create some of this ancient art. To introduce these classes here is a little bit more about the wonderful world of paper cutting.

For hundreds of years around the world people have practised the simple but beautiful act of cutting paper with scissors or a cutter in order to create delicate art pieces. It likely started in China in the 6th century, and as paper became more affordable, papercutting became one of the most important types of Chinese folk art. Later, this art form spread to other parts of the world, with different regions adopting their own cultural styles.

One of the more famous places to do paper cutting, thanks to their washi paper, is Japan, where there is Kirie and Kirigami.

Kirigami comes from the Japanese words “kiru” (to cut) and “kami” (paper). While origami is the more well known of the Japanese papercrafts, and both involve folding, the primary method of creating a design for kirigami is through the cutting of the paper.

Typically, kirigami starts with a single piece of paper which has folds incorporated into it. However these are often temporary, and once the paper has been cut it is unfolded and flattened to reveal the finished piece. Simple kirigami are usually symmetrical and can be things such as snowflakes, pentagrams, or orchid blossoms.

For kirie when cutting, patterns and templates will have lines to indicate where to cut, and shaded areas to show what portion of the paper will remain. By simply making cuts out of the paper, designs as delicate as lace can be created.

There are many papercutting artists doing stunning work, check out some of the contemporary masters of this craft here.

Cutting Paper

While any kind of paper can be used, it depends on your project and desired effect which paper should be used. For example, a thinner paper is needed for projects that involve lots of folding, whereas watercolour paper can be good for pop-up cards as it adds some thickness and texture.

In general a craft knife is easier to use than scissors, but it depends on the shape and exact project you’re doing. If using a craft knife, use one with a sharp blade and take care not to damage your work surface.

Using nothing but a pencil and a scalpel, you can turn a sheet of paper into a complex work of art. The possibilities are endless when it comes to designs, as things such as hanging rosettes, cards, mobiles, or even lanterns can be created.

If all this sounds like something you’d like to try yourself, sign up for papercutting classes! They are taught by Eriko, a self-taught paper artist. She enjoys illustrative papercutting in monochrome, especially its process of cutting out negative space with a craft knife to unfold stories hidden on a single sheet of paper. See here for more information or book directly with Eriko by emailing or phone 0131 556 8990.

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