Sunday 5 February 2012

Paper cutting, Rob Ryan style

The art of papercutting apparently dates back to 6th century China (thank you, Wikipedia!) and involves cutting outlines or portraits, usually out of black paper. Recently the artist Rob Ryan has made papercutting popular; his designs are printed onto all sorts of gifts and his artwork and items showing his designs are often featured in the 'living' pages of magazines.

After doing a sewing class at the Make Lounge last year, I am on their mailing list and noticed a few months back that they were offering a papercutting class. It looked like a really interesting hobby and something that I could potentially incorporate into my card making, so I decided to go along to one of their evening sessions.

The class was taught by Suzy Taylor, who specialises in folk art papercuts. Check out her website and her post about the class I took here:

You don't need much in terms of equipment to make papercuts. You need a sharp blade - you can use a knife or even scissors but the best thing to use is an artist's scalpel. You also need a mat to cut on so you don't damage the table! It's also a lot easier if you follow a template or pattern. So to start, you select the piece of paper you want to use - black generally works best but you can use any colour. On the back (if you have a piece of paper that is only coloured on one side), draw the picture you want to cut. Lines need to be touching each other so every part of the picture is still attached when you cut it out, otherwise you end up with big holes in your paper. If you are including words, you also need to write the letters backwards so they are the right way round when you turn the paper over.

To start with we practiced cutting out simple flowers, then moved onto either our own designs or using a template Suzy had prepared. There are tips on how to make your own template on her blog (see link above).

I chose a piece of black paper that had a tree and birds lightly drawn on the back, and spent about an hour carefully cutting around it. I stuck it onto a piece of green paper and backed that onto black card. I was really proud of it!

As I still had about an hour of class time left, I decided to make something else. This class was back in the summer and my boyfriend's dad's 70th birthday was only a few weeks away and I decided to make him a family tree. So I selected another of Suzy's tree templates, this time on red paper. But I ignored the birds and instead sketched out the names of his immediate family members (rather cheekily adding my own, as I'm not family.... yet!) onto the branches of the tree. It was a little difficult to write all the lletters backwards and make sure each letter had at least one line attaching it to the tree branch so it wouldn't get cut off when I was cutting out the tree shape. So as you can see from the finished article below, a few letters are a little wonky, but I think it turned out really well! I even added a little rabbit at the bottom as the family has a pet rabbit.
I think I will definitely incorporate paper cutting into my card making in future. It takes a lot more time but I think looks really impressive.


  1. These look amazing!! Love the family tree :)

  2. Hi Caroline

    I've awarded you a Liebster Blog Award! Check it out here and pass it on :)

  3. These are great! The history on paper cutting was interesting.

    1. Thank you! It's not as hard as it looks, to do something basic anyway - but I'm amazed at some of the intricate designs I've seen!


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