I’ve always admired the art of paper cutting, but I’ve never really explored it. I love the traditional Mexican folk art of papel picado, and I used it as a motif in my Día de los Muertos poster, but that was just drawing meant to mimic the style. There is a mural in the Mission by Swoonthat is a gorgeous example of paper cutting. The mural is wheatpasted to the brick wall, and has been slowly deteriorating over the years.
Last week I picked up a book, Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft, featuring several different paper cutting artists, a few of whom I was familiar with. It’s a gorgeous book and if you have any interest in paper cutting I would highly recommend it. Elsa Mora, one of the artists included in the book, discusses it in depth on her blog.
I was inspired to dig out my x-acto blades and try some paper cutting. I’ve been working on a simple image with a moth and some succulents, and it adapted well for a cut out design. And inspired by this tutorial by Jeffrey Rudell on making paper cut embellished thank you notes, I left part of the sheet uncut so that a letter or note could be written on it.
I used a 9×12″ sheet of white, acid-free construction paper, strong enough to hold its shape but light enough to not chew through too many blades (I did dull two of them in the process – I’ve since invested in a pack of extra durable blades). The cutting isn’t perfect, it accidentally tore in two places, and I didn’t like my first version of the antennae, so I cut them off and glued on a second set. But overall, I’m happy with my first attempt.
If you like my design and want to try out some paper cutting for yourself, I’ve turned it into a pattern that you can print and cut out! Download and print this pdf onto a sheet of sturdy paper (construction paper, heavyweight inkjet paper, cardstock, etc). Using a sharp x-acto blade and working on top of a self-healing cutting mat or other protective surface, carefully cut away all of areas shaded blue, working from the inside towards the outside.