Here’s a round up of five books about paper cutting, a tradition that varies from country to country and a contemporary art and craft that seems to have no bounds!
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Let me know if you know of other books about paper cutting that I can add to my next Best-of-List.
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Chris Rich, 1993
Of the 5 books reviewed here, this one has the most comprehensive introduction showing off the various styles of paper cutting from around the world. The illustrations are fantastic, detailing various ways to fold paper and cut across the folds for different effects. The bulk of this book features a series of projects for framed work, complete with templates. Interesting extras include using paper cuts as stencils for easter egg decorating, cake decorating, tree decorations, book marks and more.
This book tracks the history of paper cuts from China to Japan, and then Europe and the United States. This is a how-to book, starting with simple silhouettes, cutting continuous designs, cutting multiple copies, and working in symmetry. Advanced techniques include adding colorful backgrounds, two-color paper cuts, appliquéd overlays and underlays, painted backgrounds and framing ideas. A series of projects are introduced in the back of the book including a candle holder, lampshade, fan, découpaged box, mug, miniature folding screen, and cards.
Zhang Daoyi, 1989
This is a comprehensive book about the history of Chinese paper cuts. An entire section is dedicated to the ways in which paper cuts have been used in China (as window ornaments, stencils for embroidery, flags, etc). The center of the book is filled with colorful illustrations of traditional paper cuts. Famous paper cut artists and paper cut symbols are depicted, and the book ends with the basic paper cutting techniques. My favorite is the description of copying designs via smoke: wet the original, stick it to a piece of paper and hold the whole paper over an oil lamp to smoke. When the original model is removed, the cut lines are visible in soot!
Owen Gildersleeve, 2014
This book is like a Who’s Who of paper cutting. A brief history of the craft is followed by 25 featured artists (mostly from Europe, where the author hails from). Each artist is profiled with a bio and a series of questions from the author, so we gain insight into how they got started with paper and how they use it, often in design and illustration careers. The photography in the book is fantastic, and each artist’s work is well documented and represented.
Laura Badalucco, 2001
Kirigami is a variation of origami that includes cutting and folding a sheet of paper, rather than solely folding the paper as is the case with origami. Typically, no glue is used. This book is filled with practical tips and tricks, including a ‘typology of folds’. There are instructions for several card models, followed by a series of objects you can create. Templates are included for all of the projects.
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