The invention of paper in China ushered in a wave of decorative art in the 4th century. People could manipulate this material with ease, inspiring many paper crafting skills. Paper flower making, origami, origami, and paper-cutting are a few of these that emerged.
Older people passed down these skills to their descendants as heritage. Later generations then spread it to most parts of the world to make it popular.
What Is Paper Cut Art?
Paper cut art is the use of cut paper to create amazing designs. This art form has a long history in different parts of the world.
How Can Paper Cutting Become an Art?
Paper cutting has evolved over the years. The technique now has established guidelines for the creation and analysis of pieces. This organized framework and creative process represent an important element of art.
What Is the Korean Art of Paper Cutting?
People from a wide variety of cultures practice paper cut art. Some artists limit themselves to traditional forms, while others express themselves in more modern ways.
Hanji is a term used to describe both papermaking and papercrafts in Korea. It is prominent in Korean tradition, dating as far back as the 6th century. Paper cut art here is popular in all classes of society.
Artists usually add bright colors and images of nature to their papercrafts. These represent wishes for long life and happiness in Korean culture.
What Is Japanese Paper Cutting?
In the 7th century, the Japanese imported paper cutting from mainland China. Popularly known as Kirie in Japan, it was originally the art of cutting paper to make images. People used these art pieces to give various shrines a facelift.
Expert craftsmen exhibited their techniques as entertainment for people during the Edo period. The performance, known as kamikiri, brought many artists fame and wealth.
Contemporary kirie takes the art form to new levels to create more than just images. Artists today use the technique to produce incredibly-detailed representations of real-world objects.
Paper Cut Art Around the World
Apart from China, Korea, and Japan, paper cutting is found in many other parts of the world.
In the mid-1800s, shepherds in Poland mostly used paper cutting, or Wycinanki, to while away time in the fields. They cut out their designs from either leather or tree bark. The paper cut art became popular when Polish families began using it to decorate their homes.
Artists here combine shapes and motifs in the creation process. Next, they add natural elements, such as animals and flowers, to introduce some sophistication into their designs.
Papercutting was imported into the United States by Germans who moved to Pennsylvania. The art was a tradition in Germany and Denmark known as Scherenschnitte. They made very small-sized paper cuttings that they put in pocket watches.
As immigrants to America, the Germans popularized the art form as a way to add designs to letters and paintings.
Mexicans commonly use paper-cut art or Papel Picado for decoration. During celebrations in the country, brightly colored paper cuttings are strung together as banners. The most popular among these celebrations is the Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead holiday.
In India, artists use paper cutting to design stencils which they later fill with colorful dyes to create rangolis: paintings that appear to float on water surfaces.
Designs made in stencils are usually representations of the natural environment. The whole process is known as Sanjhi and remains an integral part of their culture.
Paper Cut Art Tools
An artist is as good as the tools they use. Paper cutting is a delicate talent that requires time, concentration, and precision. For this level of skill, the paper cut art craftsperson requires the appropriate equipment that makes their work faster and more efficient.
The following tools are essential for paper cutting:
- Cutting Mat
An artist can damage their work surface with the cuts they make when working. A cutting mat is useful in this case for protecting the table. A large pad is recommended to inclusively cover the area.
- A Metallic Ruler
Rulers are important in making measurements and drawing straight lines. With the cutting tools an artist uses in the creation process, a metallic version is best to ensure that they don’t shave off parts of it.
Artists use pencils to draw out designs on paper first before making cuts. While they prefer freehand paper cuts, this helps them reduce mistakes.
A scalpel is the most critical tool used in this process to make detailed paper cuts. An artist should always seek one that is comfortable and sharp enough, so they only make cuts once.
Scalpels are inappropriate for some cuts an artist makes when working in this domain. A strong blade with a fine point offers the appropriate flexibility for cutting curves.
Contemporary Paper Cutting
Modern paper-cutting artists have developed the technique to levels not imagined before. Yoel Benharrouche is one of the elite contemporary paper-cutting crafters today.
Trained as an artist in France, he has gathered enough knowledge and developed his skills to become a distinguished professor of art.
The artist’s designs feature a combination of exceptional detailing and vibrant colors. He also captures the spiritual and historical nature of Israel in his art. His work focuses on this theme as a way to connect with his audience.
In his work, he explores the relationship between the physical and mystical.
Paper cutting has been around for many years. The Japanese, Germans, Koreans, and many other countries and cultures use it as a way to express themselves. Yoel Benharrouche is a contemporary artist who took what others had done and became a master at his skill.
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