Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Days 14 & 15 "Art Every Day Month - Papercut trials and tribulations

To quote Brittany Spears "Oops, I did it again". Messed up, that is. My little brother turned 30 today, so I came up with the idea of making him a piece of birthday art to celebrate this milestone. A papercut, I thought, would be ideal. I have cut paper before, for stencils and to rescue some art gone wrong, but this was the first time I had done a papercut purely as an artwork in itself. And I definitely learnt some important lessons along the way.  Here is the final piece.

But here's the tale of how I got to that, which started many hours before...

I decided the easiest way to do the papercut would be to draw my design in reverse on the black paper, using yellow pencil. That way, when turned around, you wouldn't see any of the pencil marks. Obviously it was important to ensure that all the parts of the design connected up, so this took a little bit of time to plot out. I decided to create a border of fairy lights and connect up the words and the lights with some balloons.

Feeling very chuffed with my design, I set about cutting it out using a scalpel on my cutting mat. Against my nature, I was very patient and careful with this process, knowing that if I made one mistake,  cut too far, then the papercut would fall apart.  2 hours later, I had cut out all the negative space from the design, so I turned it around to see what it would look like against a white background.  Horror!!! The "y"s, the "d" in "birthday" and the "3" were the wrong way round!

All that work, gone to waste. I couldn't give my brother this pathetic messed up papercut for his birthday. So (after a break to get over it all), I set about making another one. As most of the cutting work had been in the fairy light border, I decided to salvage this, cut out the lettering and re-do the middle part. This time, I checked my design in the mirror before proceeding further.

Satisfied that my reverse design would work once turned around, I then cut out the negative space around the lettering and the balloons. Then I glued the border and the lettering onto a piece of matt heavyweight photographic paper. Hooray, success at last!

So I think the moral of that story is that if you are doing a design in reverse, check it in the mirror first!


  1. Great job! Oh, I totally know the feeling of spending hours on something, only to realize I made some crucial mistakes...ouch! But you learned from it and created a great piece in the end, all in the creative journey - pretty cool! BTW, I always get mixed up with backwards stuff, so I usually scan and flip it on the computer if I need reference! I also learned the hard way to check and double check!

  2. I am in awe of your patience - not once, but twice. That is one very intricate paper cut! Hope he loved his card!

  3. Stopping by from AEDM -- love the focus of your blog :) You did a great job on the cut-out -- I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to even try!

  4. oh what delightful little journey into your world! Thanks for sharing, I think your paper cut is wonderful!

  5. a jon like this would result in at least one trip to the doctor and many stitches for me so you are looking ridiculously brave and coordinated in my book... thanks for sharing the process as well... cool post

  6. all that work was certainly worth it! it's a beautiful and very special gift.