August 07, 2020

The Art of Paper Cutting

By Alyssa Dyar

The art of paper cutting has been around nearly as long as paper. Cultures from all over the world use paper cutting as a form of expression and decoration. In Mexico artisans make banners with colorful tissue paper and small chisels or scissors. In Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus, vytynanky (or wycinanki) is a celebrated art form with layers of cut, bright paper and holiday motifs.

Papel Picado from Mexico, timlewisnm

In most any part of the world, from past to present, you will find a rich history of paper cutting, which piqued my curiosity. I wanted to learn more about practicing this international art form.

To begin, I did some research on paper cutting. I looked through the Hamilton East Public Library’s collection to find books about paper cutting and to help me brainstorm ideas for a paper cutting project. After looking through many books, like The Art of Paper Cutting by Henya Melichson and Paper Cutting Book (both available on Hoopla), I chose two books that set me on my path: Paper Cuts: 35 Inventive Projects by Taylor Hagerty and Papercutting by Claudia Hopf.

paper cut lanternPaper Cut Lantern

I decided to make a lantern adapted from a lantern project in Paper Cuts using motifs from Papercutting. The results were pretty illuminating! If you’d like to give a paper-cut lantern a try, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Paper
  • Craft knife (like an x-acto)
  • Cutting mat (You can also use cardboard or poster board.)

For more paper-cutting inspiration, watch artist Hiromi Moneyhun discuss how she got started paper cutting below.

Another contemporary paper-cut artist you might find interesting is Thomas Witte. See how he uses photographs to make beautiful paper-cut designs.

If you can’t quite get the hang of paper cutting by hand, but you love the look of paper-cut decorations, consider reserving one of Ignite’s two Cricut machines. You can learn more about making a paper lantern with a Cricut at Laura’s Crafty Life.