I've been intrigued by paper cutting for a couple of years now, ever since I saw some beautiful framed paper cuts in The Itch Gallery. There's something about its simplicity that I love.
I've also been spending a lot of time looking at Paper Panda's blog, who is just the most amazing, creative and inspiring paper cutter. Take a look, she's awesome!
It's not expensive to get started, you just need thin card, a cutting board and a scalpel and after that, all it takes is a design, a little patience and lots of practice.
Anyway, I knew I wanted to do a little something for the conservatory and I wanted to challenge myself with something handwritten and personal. I chose a quote from L.A. Story - well - just because...
"So there I was jabbering at her about my new job as a serious newsman - about anything at all - but all I could think was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful and yet again, wonderful."
(A quote that I've since found out is based on a line from Shakespeare's, As You Like It. Every day's a learning day!)
The whole quote was a bit too long and daunting for a first paper cut, as well as being slightly waffly, so I shortened it to the most important part.
Now I can draw a little bit, but there is a limit to my abilities, so I took the least adventurous option and chose to design my paper cut using a drawing app called Inkbot. In retrospect I really wish I'd been a little braver and attempted to draw more of the outer pattern freehand. The app was very useful though as I was able to draw the curve line that I wanted the text to follow and then just get the text to follow the path - something I couldn't get my old version of Photoshop to do, no matter how hard I tried.
Once I'd got my basic design layout, I wanted to convert the text into my own handwriting. Using my window as a light table, I taped a piece of paper over the design and rewrote the quote in my own handwriting. I was simply using the original text as a guide for spacing and size.
I scanned my handwriting in and then inserted it where the original text was using Photoshop.
I then flipped the image so that I had a mirror image that I could print onto the back of my cardstock.
I used white linen card from Craft Creations.
As an aside, I originally transferred my image onto watercolour paper, but this was just too thick and was taking too much pressure to cut. I think the finish would have been nicer, but my back was complaining too much...
I tried to read as much as I could about paper cutting before I started and managed to pick up a few hints and tips that might be useful for anyone new to paper cutting -
- When you're designing your image, you need to create links between all the elements so that everything is joined together - my daughter described it as, "everything has to hold hands" - the more links you have the more stable your design will be.
- Swann Morton handles and blades seem to be the most popular tool for professional paper-cutters
- Number 10A Scalpel Blades and number 11 are used quite frequently by paper cutters. I used number 11 blades.
- Change your blades often to avoid dragging and tearing the paper. I may have changed my blades a little more than your average paper cutter as I was new and so as soon as I sensed the knife dragging I changed it. I believe I used 15 blades for this paper cut.
- Always turn your work and not the blade.
- Cut towards yourself.
- If you have small, perfect circles (like the centres of my flowers) use a hammer hole punch to make life easier.
- Start with the smallest and tightest cuts first to keep your work as stable as possible
- After you've removed the smallest, most difficult areas, work from the centre first, radiating to the outside
- Tight curves are often easier to cut using a series of short cuts.
- Use a metal ruler to cut straight lines.
I very soon discovered that paper cutting is not a hobby I'm going to pursue too often. I read that Paper Panda uses a sloping school desk to make paper cutting easier on her back, so I should have taken that as a clue that it really isn't a hobby for anyone that has chronic back pain.
Inevitably I made this paper cut in many, many, short, 10 to 15 minute sittings. As frustrating as this was, it did mean that I had time to take a photograph regularly and I was able to see my progress which was very motivating.
I turned all of my images into an animated GIF and I think it almost works like a shaky time lapse photography film. I think it shows how rewarding this craft can be, as the smaller areas take a lot of time and attention, but once you get past the difficult parts, the design starts to reveal itself at a faster and faster rate - It was strangely exciting and I can really see how some people describe this as an addictive hobby!
To frame my paper cut I wanted to use a floating frame (the paper cut is sandwiched between two thin sheets of glass) that would allow it to cast a shadow and show that it actually was cut out and not just a print. I finally found what I was looking for on the Habitat website. I wanted a white frame that would fit a sheet of A4 paper with an empty border around it and the Monro frame did the job.
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