I’ve been doing some reading about papercutting but there aren’t that many books about it to be honest. I think it’s either an ignored artform, called something else by the professional ladies and gentlemen or maybe papercutting is kind of self-explanatory and doesn’t require further research. Or maybe, shudders, it’s not considered an artform at all. It is essentially cutting paper. It’s not as (at least to me) hopelessly complex as origami or as sculpture-y as ‘book sculptures’. Papercutting is not at the same problem solving level as pop-books. Personally though – i think it’s an art.
I don’t know if its a reflection of myself but i can (very easily) spend a whole week doodling out a design. And then use a few days to adjust a design until it can be papercut. Even then I can get halfway through a cutting and then realise that a bird is not attached to a branch, an elephants walking stick is too delicate to remain part of a design or (most commonly afflicting lettering) the inside of shapes are pointless.
My confidence was not bolstered by my sister when i showed her a papercutting and she left the room, returning with the phrase – “You do know they’ve invented these?” and presented a pair of scissors. I can’t, without sounding crass, tell you where i suggested she pesimistically put them.
But it didn’t deter me (if i listened to everything my sister said – i wouldn’t have bothered with an education….from primary school onwards). I love my twitter followers and the confidence they give me, but if they turned from positive to negative….I wouldn’t give up. I’d keep trying, always. My first cat taught me that life lesson….. 14yrs and she never caught that crow but was purring in my arms till the end.
But is papercutting an art? I only started it because I couldn’t afford any other arty hobbies and i already had the equipment (take a bow old spam put through my letter box and pound shop craft blade) and i couldn’t possibly do any more of my original hobby (sleeping).
In terms of origins it (papercutting) evolved uniquely all over the planet, adapting to different cultural styles. I’m not sure which evolution I like the best but here’s what they’re called across different cultures – Jianzhi (剪紙), Sanjhi, Papel picado and Silhouettes. Most of the time – it doesn’t have a name. But then again just because somethings unnamed, doesn’t mean it never existed.