The art of papercraft originated in China, where paper was invented in 105 AD and encompasses a huge variety of forms from papercutting and silhouettes to collage and découpage, card and book making, quilling, altered books, origami and paperfolding, making models/ flowers/ toys and decorations, papier-mâché and even handmade papermaking itself. This enormous diversity, coupled with the relative cheapness of and the sheer beauty of the materials themselves, makes it a very popular art form with many people, including myself, so I possess a number of general and specific paper-oriented books in my craft library, which I have divided into two posts:
Part One: General Papercraft; Papercutting and Silhouettes; and Découpage; and
Part Two: Origami and Paperfolding; Making models/ flowers/ toys and decorations, Papier-mâché and Papermaking.
Please note both spellings: papercutting and paper cutting are used to describe this artform. In this post, I have tended to use the same spelling as used in each book on the subject.
Below is a photo of some of the beautiful textured papers available these days for papercraft! They inspire one to start making paper projects immediately!General Papercraft
A Complete Guide to Papercraft by Carson Ritchie 1978
This fascinating small guide traces the History of Papercrafts from Chinese, Turkish and European papercuts; Victorian silhouettes and Mary Delaney’s floral collages to model theatres and paper sculpture. The author covers paper types and storage; tools (scissors, craft knives; punches; tweezers; rulers, set squares, compasses and brushes); and adhesives and paints in his chapter on Studio, Materials and Equipment.Our first experiences with paper occur in childhood and Chapter Three describes a variety of Paper Toys, which you may remember: Thaumatropes (spinning pictures); Swingers and Spinners; Pantins ( with movable limbs) like the Paper Owl, which my daughter sent me from Germany, in the photo below; Trick and Illusion Pictures, including Three Way Pictures; Shadowgraphs; Pop-Up Books; and Peep Shows.
Next is a series of chapters dedicated to describing specific papercrafts in more detail:
Silhouettes ; Chinese Papercuts; Western Papercuts, which are totally different to the Chinese forms, in that they are usually symmetrical and often multi-coloured, including French Découpage and Polish Wycinanki; and Collage (Assemblages: Montages and Gravure Assemblages; Tinsel Prints; Flower Mosaics and miniature Amelias; Found Paper Collages) and Stamping.
Further chapters feature: Pin Prick; Quilling (or Rolled Paper Craft); and Tole (3-D Papercraft) eg Peep Shows; Model Theatres and Shadow Boxes.
The final chapter discusses Specialised Techniques like Paper Dyeing; Marbling; Gilding; Paper Tearing; Frottage; Paper Sculpture and Models; and Stencil Work.
While being an old book now, it is an excellent introduction to papercraft, with clear instructions, black-and-white photographs and diagrams and lots of inspiration for further exploration! It is also valuable as a guide to older, more historical techniques.
The New Encyclopaedia of Origami and Papercraft Techniques by Ayako Brodek and Claire Waite Brown 2011
This more modern guide to papercraft is more extensive in the range of paper crafts it describes, as well as having colour photographs; examples by contemporary paper artists; and more detailed step-by-step instructions for specific projects.
After an introduction covering the different kinds of papers for each technique and a discussion of paper weight and grain, the book is divided into 11 units, each containing a brief history, a description of paper types and materials required, specific methods and variations, examples of each technique in the artwork of contemporary artists and a project to practice the technique. They include:
Origami: Symbols; Basic Folds; Geometric Divisions; Bases; Decorative/ Functional/ Modular and Action Designs. Projects include: Cranes; Iris; Balloon; Boat; Butterflies; Snails; Egg Stand; Picture Frame; Antiprisms; Flapping Bird and Hungry Crow. Below is a photo of some paper cranes, which I made from this book, as a practice run for the paper crane mobile, which I describe in my post next week.
Pop-Ups: Incised; Multi-Pieced; and Boxes. Project: Pop-Up Spider Card;
Paper Sculpture: Cones and Cylinders; Decorative Forms; Assembly and Armatures. Project: Owl;
Bookbinding: Book Block; Hard and Soft Covers; Single Section/ Multi-Section/ and Stab Binding; Project: Concertina Book;
Quilling: Shapes; Applications: Flowers; Combining Elements; and Glueing. Project: Keepsake Box;
Weaving: Designs: Plain/Irregular/Tumbling Block and 3-D. Project: Woven Paper Bowl;
Papercutting: Techniques: Symmetrical Cutting; Detailed Shapes; Layering; and Shadow Silhouetting. Project: Paper Cut Window Hanging;
Collage: Cutting and Pasting; Composition; and Overlayering. Project: Painted Paper Collage;
Papier-mâché: Casting From Found/ Modelling Clay and Plaster Moulds; Decorative Ideas: Sealing with Primer; Varnishes; Texture; and Gold Leaf;
Paper Pulping: Preparing Pulp; Applications: Using Cardboard Base; Casting a Plate; or Using Other Moulds; and even…
Paper-Making: Making Pulp: Recycled Paper; Plant Fibre; and Pulp Pigmentation; Making Paper: Couching Pad; Pulling a Sheet; and Couching; Pressing and Drying; and Decorative Techniques: Embedding: Laminating and Inclusions; Embossing and Painting with Pulp; and finally, Papermaking Recipes: Recycled Paper Samplers; Paper from Home; Pigmenting Papers; Embedding (Laminating and Inclusions); Embosssing; Painting with Pulp; and Plant Pulps, including grass and carrot tops!Papercutting and Silhouettes
I have always loved the look of papercutting, ever since we were introduced to this ancient craft in the early 1990s by the exquisite art works of Brigitte Stoddart, a number of which we bought during our time in Tasmania. I love her symmetry, intricate fine detail, her traditional style, heavily influenced by Polish, German and French papercutting, with its distinctive Australian flavour and her portrayal of the innocence of childhood, as can be seen in the photo below.Brigitte used a scalpel and small scissors to cut her design from a single piece of black acid fast paper, occasionally using coloured paper behind the black and then, she, her husband and two daughters would each take a corner and very carefully lay it flat on the glued surface of the mount! Such painstakingly precise work requiring so much patience! I adored her papercut of the three children, who mirrored the interests of and thus represented our three children, who were at a similar age at the time of purchase.
Brigitte’s papercut designs are also featured in a book we bought for our children: Okra and Acacia: The Story of the Wattle Pattern Plate by Libby Hathorn 2002.While I could not find much of an online presence, she does have some work on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/236698379/boxed-set-of-8-papercut-print-cards, which we also own and which show some of her coloured work.She has also written her own book on the subject: Papercutting 1973, unfortunately now out-of-print, but available at: https://www.amazon.com/Papercutting-Brigitte-Stoddart/dp/0800862473.
The photos above and below are some more of her cards, which we also own:Other contemporary artists are featured in my first book on this subject:
Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists; Timeless Craft Compiled by Laura Heyenga 2011
Paper cutting started in China after 600 CE and was used to decorate doors and windows with assymetrical designs of animals; flowers; landscapes and narratives. It really developed as an art form in Japan’s Edo period (1615-1868), with symmetrical mon kiri, as well as in 11th century Turkey, where it was used to create shadow theatres. It was also practised in Poland (Wycinanki), Germany (Scherenschnitte); Holland (Knippen) and Switzerland (Marques) and is closely related to art of Silhouettes, popular in the 17th and 18th century.
It has experienced a revival worldwide with the work of the contemporary artists showcased in this lovely book, with their biographies in the back. While all of them are amazing, my particular favourites include:
Peter Callesen http://www.petercallesen.com/;
Nicky McClure http://nikkimcclure.com/;
Su Blackwell https://www.sublackwell.co.uk/;
Helen Musselwhite http://helenmusselwhite.com/;
Rob Ryan http://robryanstudio.com/;
Beatrice Coron http://www.beatricecoron.com/;
Emily Hogarth http://emilyhogarth.com/; and
Elsa Mora http://www.elsamora.net/ (current website )and http://elsita.typepad.com/elsita/papercuts-by-elsa-mora.html (older work).
Other excellent sites about paper cutting by Elsa Mora include: http://www.allaboutpapercutting.com/;
While this book and websites are so inspirational, it is also good to have some practical how-to guides on the subject and I have four suggestions for you:
Cut Paper Silhouettes and Stencils: An Instruction Book by Christian Rubi 1970
Featuring many traditional designs, floral motifs, woven designs, beautiful silhouettes and stencil designs, this lovely old book provides patterns and instructions for papercutting designs to be used for door plates and knockers; coats of arms; covers and opening pages of books and photo albums; invitations, letter paper and cards; invoices, bequests and birth certificates; and calligraphy; as well as information on sharpening mat knives; the principles of silhouette composition; and making, transferring and fixing stencils, preparing transparent glazes, stencil paintings, multi-coloured stencils and using letters and numerals.
I love the unusual designs and sense of history conveyed by this book. Below is a photo of one of the intricate designs I drew from this book.The Craft of Paper Cutting by Angelika Hahn 1996
More modern in feel, this simple little book discusses the History, Materials and Basic Skills, including :
Cutting from Folded Paper;
Negative Paper Cutting;
Silhouette Cuts; and
It also features a Gallery of Paper Cuts with Designs for Children; Fairy Tales; Circus and Theatre; Impressions of Nature; City and Countryside; Famous Heads; People at Work; On Land and Water; Festivals; Chinese Paper Cuts; Romance; Ornamental Patterns, including rosettes, brooches and borders; Contemporary Paper Cuts; Miniatures and the Animal World.
In the back of the book are over 100 designs to trace and cut to make life easy!Silhouettes by Sharyn Sowell 2009
Another excellent guide covering the Basics: Tools; Supplies; Getting Started; Design Basics; and Mounting and Making Silhouettes, using four simple methods: Casting a Shadow; Using a Digital Camera; Cutting or Drawing Your Own Freehand Design and Using Pre-exisiting Patterns.
The rest of the book contains 88 patterns and instructions for 24 projects, including: Cushion covers, lampshades and curtains; Napkin rings, place mats and coasters; Clock faces, storage jars and serving trays; Coat hooks and chalkboards; Wall and shelf friezes; Artworks and photo mats; Storage boxes; Cards and ribbon; Book pages and travel logs; Office décor; and even, Christmas ornaments. It is a great book for ideas for using silhouette designs.And finally, the newest addition to my craft library concerning this subject:
Cut Up This Book: Special Occasions: Step-by-Step Instruction for Festive Occasions, Invitations and More by Emily Hogarth 2013
Written by one of my favourite contemporary artists featured in my first book on this topic, this book is also the most comprehensive, covering basic techniques, projects and 60 templates on patterned paper to be cut up, as the title implies, or photocopied for repeated use!
The first section, Getting Started, introduces basic concepts, with photographs demonstrating technique and diagrams, which illustrate important points, key skills and common pitfalls. They include:
Essential tools and useful extras;
Cutting with a craft knife or scissors: Cutting techniques, changing blades and safety tips;
Cutting multiples: Accordion folding; and stacking techniques;
Single and multi-fold designs;
Scoring and indenting;
Layering and intercutting;
Thinking backward– especially important when cutting letters and numbers or doing directional designs;
There are step-by-step instructions with photographs and templates for 25 projects, with boxes indicating tool kit, materials and templates; symbols for skill level ; graphics identifying the trickiest areas to cut or take special care; and tips, variations and finishing touches.
Projects include: Invitations, cards and gift tags; gift and favour bags; Hanging, window and table decorations, party garlands and pin wheels; Lanterns; Paper wreaths and corsages; Napkin holders, place mats, coasters and place cards; Food flags and cake toppers and wrappers; and Dress-up props, birthday buttons and hair bands. There are some lovely designs and I particularly look forward to making some of the cards and the window, pompom and rosette decorations.
Collage and Découpage
A talented exponent of collage was Mary Delaney, who I have already mentioned in two previous posts: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/08/ambassadors-of-spring/
I love her work and would love to own one of her books one day, but in the meantime, her images can be appreciated on:
And http://littlegreennotebook.com/2010/04/botanicals-on-black-paper-and-mary.html/. As I describe in my posts, I have used her work to inspire my own paper collage floral cards.During my embroidery studies, we had to make paper collages as preliminary studies for embroidery designs like the work featured in the photos below. Here is another photograph of my paper collages.
However, I do own two books on Découpage, a specialised form of papercutting, used to decorate the surfaces of objects with printed scraps of paper, like the hat box in the photographs below. Découpage originated in France, the name being the French word meaning ‘to cut out’, and was very popular in the Victorian Era with prints of seaside holidays, angels, children and flowers covering screens, photo frames and jewellery boxes. Used today, it gives objects an old-fashioned feel and I have two books, both based on fairies, another popular theme in the 18th century.
Nerida Singleton’s Découpage Fairies Project Book, Featuring Peg Maltby’s Fairy Images 1995
Using a specified découpage kit and the delightful colourful images created by Peg Maltby and reproduced in this book on glossy paper, Nerida gives detailed instructions for a variety of projects, including boxes, letter holders, pencil holders and albums, to illustrate the basic principles of proper surface preparation; background colour; sealing; cutting and placing; glueing the fairy images; trimming, tidying and repairing; gilding the edges; varnishing (using water-based and oil-based varnishes) and sanding; painting faux linings; and finishing with beeswax or micro mesh.
Peg Maltby (1899-1984), born Agnes Newberry Orchard in Ashby-de-la-Zouche, UK, in 1899, studied at engineering college in England, before marrying George Bradley Maltby in 1917 and having four children. They migrated to Victoria, Australia, in 1924. While living in Coburg during the Great Depression, Maltby supplemented the family income by painting commercial items such as chocolate box lids and birthday cards. She became a member of the Victorian Artists’ Society and had some successful exhibitions of her fairy paintings. She also illustrated a number of children’s books, including: Nutchen of the Forest; Meet Mr Cobbledick; Nursery Rhymes; Pip and Pepita; Ben and Bella; and
Peg’s Fairy Book by Peg Maltby 1944, which can be viewed at : http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-2600932/view?partId=nla.obj-2656867#page/n0/mode/1up.
The Flower Fairies Découpage Book Based on the Original Flower Fairies Books by Cicely Mary Barker 1997
A similar book with a similar subject matter, whose illustrations and style I personally prefer, having been reared on her books in my early childhood. While some of the projects are the same, there are also a number of different projects in this book.
Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973) was also born in England at a similar time to Peg Maltby and published her first flower fairy book, Flower Fairies of the Spring, in 1923. She painted in watercolours from life, using plant specimens from Kew Gardens and modelling the fairies on the children at her sister’s nursery school. Primary influences included Kate Greenaway and the Pre-Raphaelites.
In this book, there is a wide selection of her images, reproduced on glossy paper, for cutting out and step-by-step instructions for 10 projects, including: Letter racks and pencil holders and pencils; Photograph album and photo frame; Dressing table set (hand mirror, comb, hair clip and powder compact); Decorative fan; Lampshade; Name plates for bedroom doors; Jewellery box; Biscuit tin and tray; and a wall clock.
There are also a number of books of papers, specifically designed for use in découpage: Next week, I will be describing origami and paper folding; paper toys, models and decorations; and papier-mâché and papermaking.