The history of papercutting has been recorded as far back as the 6th century, and is still popular around the world today, from the elaborate Mexican folk art known as papel picado, used to make decorations for the Day of The Dead holiday, to Filipino sweet wrappers.
Over the past 15 years, papercutting has become increasingly popular, with artists such as Karen Bit Vejle, Elsa Mora and Rob Ryan making it the focus of their work.
The key to papercutting is that every part must be joined to another. I use trees and foliage, birds and hearts, bunting or simple lines criss-crossing the design to link the main motif. Whether you’re featuring a number, a word or an image, the important thing is to anchor everything to the edge.
You will need
- Paper, pencil, ruler
- Tracing paper
- A4 card
- Cutting mat
- Craft knife or scalpel & blades
- Masking tape
- Backing paper
- Double-sided tape or PVA glue
- Fabric tape such as posh carrier bag handles or bias binding
- Sewing machine (optional)
How to make
Working on A5 (15 x 21cm) paper, draw your design in pencil, leaving a 1cm border.
Copy the image onto the tracing paper. Turn the tracing paper over and draw over the lines of your design again. Transfer it to your card by flipping it over again and scribbling in pencil over the design.
Working on a cutting mat, begin cutting out the image. It is important that your craft knife remains sharp, so have a ready supply of blades and replace them regularly throughout the process. This makes cutting easier and prevents untidy edges. If you prefer, you can attach the tracing paper directly to your card using small pieces of masking tape and cut through both layers before removing the masking tape and tracing paper.
Attach the backing paper behind the papercut, securing it invisibly with the double-sided tape or glue.
To make the envelope, cut a piece of paper 2cm wider and longer than A4. Fold the paper in half, then cut two pieces of fabric tape to the length of the short sides of the envelope. Fold the tape in half vertically and iron to fix the fold in place.
Position a piece of fabric tape along one short edge of the envelope and carefully stitch over the four layers of paper and fabric tape with a sewing machine. Or you could hand-stitch it with a neat running stitch. Repeat on the opposite side. Place your card into the envelope – remembering to write in it first! – and stitch along the top edge, being careful not to stitch through the card.
To open the envelope, the recipient will have to cut along the top edge, so you could write ‘cut here’ or draw a little pair of scissors just below the stitch line if you wish to ensure they don’t cut through the card. Then just sit back and wait for the compliments to pour in.
For more crafty ideas, visit our Craft & Hobbies section.