?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Now it can be told: papercutting - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

[ website | My Website ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Now it can be told: papercutting [Jan. 9th, 2015|07:34 pm]
Marissa Lingen
[Tags|]

In the months leading up to Christmas, I talked about my Sooooper Seeekrit Project here and there. I wanted to surprise the friends and family I spend Christmas with, and “yours is this variation” seemed less surprising than “guess what I’ve been doing.” But now there’s only one not yet delivered of my first batch, and I’m going to make more for people but don’t want to keep it secret indefinitely, so I’m going to go ahead and blather about it: what I’ve been up to is papercutting.*


This started when I was blue about not getting to do my Scandinavian Woodcarving class. I kept trying to think of other fun things I could do, and stuff like “the concerts we already have tickets for” and “maybe we can go to a Gopher Women’s Hockey game” sounded good but was not the same sort of thing. Not scratching the same itch. What I really needed was to make something I could touch with my hands. Ideally through ostensibly destructive means. Right? You cut the crap out of some poor defenseless block of wood, and suddenly you have a goat. Or a sailor or a gnome or a bunny or a status of your son the PhD candidate, judging from the other people in my former woodcarving class. I, too, wanted to cut the crap out of something! Just not, y’know, my finger again. That part was not great.**


And then! I realized! Years of loving paperdolls had fitted me for cutting the crap out of things and ending up with something cool. That is my wheelhouse. That is my bailiwick.


First problem: I overestimated the cool papercutting templates out there. I started out thinking of this as something I would just do from other people’s templates. It turns out that despite the amount of messing with paper scrapbookers do, they don’t really want to cut intricate silhouettes of cool stuff all that often. There was, for example, no octopus template. There was no giraffe template. There was no template with a castle that said, “Have fun storming the castle.”


Well. There is now. So yeah…there are still some cool templates I’m cutting from other people’s designs, but I moved into making my own almost immediately. Lots of trees, for little things. And then other stuff, sea turtles, kittens, Daleks, lots of word-lace…so that part is fun. And it was completely unexpected. I think of myself as unable to draw, is part of it, when it turns out I’m pretty okay for the purposes of silhouette, and the other part is that I overestimated how eternal scherenschnitte and similar crafts would be–not that many people are doing it just now, and craft stores are full of scrapbooking and knitting/crocheting and quilting. And that’s about it.


Second problem: my trusty scissors can only do so much. Here is where the scrapbookers had my back. So I bought myself a little xacto-style knife but with a short looped handle and a blade cover. Because see above re: my finger. I also bought myself a cutting mat. It is pink. Pink is the only color they had, so pink it was. And at that point I was in the craft store buying stuff, and so I bought a fine-tipped Martha Stewart brand glue pen. (Ultra-fine-tipped. Seriously.) This last purchase was not greatly successful; it works beautifully at first but stops being, well, gluey, very very quickly. So we are still working on how to mount these things.


But I got everything done for Christmas, and I have plans to make things for some of you, and also! Also there is a new plan! And the new plan is this: I will take a continuing ed course called Conceptual Cartography, about maps as art, and I will do a papercutting mythic map of Iceland, with the different places different things happened in the sagas symbolized appropriately. (Or, y’know, inappropriately. It being Iceland and all.) And I will take pictures and yay. Yay, yay, yay.


*Well, and I wrote chapters of a thing to surprise Tim with, since he knew about the papercutting–I was doing it while Mark was out of town, but I couldn’t really get enough of a head start to get it all done in weird morning hours while keeping it secret from Tim. So he knew. But I didn’t think it was right that everyone else should get a surprise and not him, so I wrote the beginning of a thing. Surprise!


**It has finally stopped hurting when I press on the skin of that knuckle, but it can still ache when it gets reeeeeally cold. Progress.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2015-01-10 01:24 am (UTC)
Papercutting mythic map of Iceland, eeeeeee!

Also, it is very good that the universe now has octopus templates, I tell you what.

P.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-10 02:18 am (UTC)
I KNOW RIGHT. I am practicing on things like wolves and crows and dwarves and dragons/sea serpents now, because I will NEED THEM.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: desperance
2015-01-10 02:26 am (UTC)
But are you posting them to the internets, in the places where you looked unavailingly before? Other people might also NEED THEM.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-10 02:30 am (UTC)
Right now I'm not making templates really, just experiments.

I had to experiment on the castle tower for my dad's "Have fun storming the castle" papercutting, because I had a brick-related idea, and it did not work at all. So hurrah for experiments! If all your experiments work, you aren't doing enough experiments!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: desperance
2015-01-10 02:36 am (UTC)
I approve this scientific attitude. Science should be hectic, and its trail cluttered with failures, like little signs saying "Knowledge went thataway!"
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: akirlu
2015-01-10 01:26 am (UTC)
How very cool. I did papercutting for a while when I was in high school -- I had a book on various crafts that started me on it, and one on Chinese cut paper designs and I just went from there. Somewhere, in a box, I believe I still have the rather fetching cut paper leopard (spots added in felt tip after the fact) that I was especially proud of. I should find it and scan it.

And in an odd bit of synchronicity, I've been thinking lately of getting back to papercutting. I think if you use "papercutting" as a search term on Pinterest, you might find more interesting templates though of course I wholly endorse generating your own, because original and all yours. But there's lots of beautiful inspirational stuff, also, so it's well worth a wander. And there's a neat trick where you take a photograph and print that onto printer paper and use it as a basis for generating your template, which can be handy if you want a bicycle or something equally complicated.

In fact, as I was poking around some papercutting images on Pinterest the other day I was sharply reminded that my biggest missed opportunity while we were in Hong Kong was not buying anything from the papercut vendor at the night market. He did amazing, beautiful, intricate, free-standing papercut designs in red paper, and they were stupidly cheap, running like $35-$45HK each, and I should have bought them on the spot but I thought I would make it back to the night market (it was just down the street from our apartment), but then I pooped out and didn't. Sometimes Heinlein was right: "Yeild to temptation, it may not come your way again."
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-10 02:18 am (UTC)
Yah, I've looked on Pinterest, and some of the stuff is good, but still not nearly so copious as I hoped in the directions I want, so: onward. But yes, generating templates from base images is a thing I'm fiddling with.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: swan_tower
2015-01-10 02:37 am (UTC)
<sits on hands so as not to make grabby gestures for PICTURES>
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: thistleingrey
2015-01-10 03:04 am (UTC)
Cool!

Glue pen?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-10 03:06 am (UTC)
Yes, like that. I'm going to try different brands--whatever I don't have to pay shipping on first, but if that's not satisfactory, I will definitely remember your link.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: carbonel
2015-01-10 04:01 am (UTC)
Very cool. Long ago, before the WWW but after FidoNet, there was a crafting echo where one of the participants did scherenschnitte, which I gather is a German style of paper cutting. She shared photos of a couple of her finished projects (back when it was hard to share graphics), and they were always interesting.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tiger_spot
2015-01-10 08:34 am (UTC)
Ooooh, neat!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-10 12:25 pm (UTC)
Morgan's are on their way. I mailed them yesterday.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-10 02:52 pm (UTC)
What I am going to do is reread a bunch of sagas and legends and write down where things are supposed to happen. And then we'll see what I can plausibly do, not just in the scope of the class but later than that if need be, because if it's cool, then who cares whether it's in time for the class?

But yes, I have always loved fjords, both in person and on maps. I think greykev still has the gaming map I sat and added fjords to while we were playing.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: thanate
2015-01-10 08:21 pm (UTC)
This sounds most excellent and lovely, and I look forward to there one day being intricately paper-cut maps of mythic Iceland, with pictures!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sam_t
2015-01-13 11:43 am (UTC)
That is an exceedingly cool project.

I was going to link you to an interesting article I'm sure I've read somewhere, about Joanna Koerten and papercutting and (relatively) transient art and narratives about female artists, but I'm afraid I can't find it right now. If it surfaces, I'll send it your way.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-13 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'd appreciate that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sam_t
2015-02-04 11:17 am (UTC)
Having rummaged around in my memory for a bit, I have come to the conclusion that I'd managed to combine part of a BBC documentary with various tangentially-related blog posts. The bad news is that I can't recommend a discrete piece of writing; the good news is that I can recommend a DVD and a blogger.

Amanda Vickery's three-part series on The Story of Women and Art is really fantastic and has just become available on DVD (presumably from places other than Amazon as well). There's only so much you can show in three hours, but there's a lot of interesting detail and plenty of art. Joanna Koerten is in the first episode, I think.

The blogger is Kate Davies, who is a historian of the 18th Century and a knitting designer. I'd recommend finding her blog archive (on the right of the page, underneath a bunch of other stuff), starting right at the beginning and working forward, as many of her later posts concentrate on her design process and new patterns, and that may not be the best point to start unless you're also interested in knitting. Anyway, lots of interesting stuff about women's history, craft history, some political history (and the intersections of those three), Scotland and (after she had a stroke at a relatively young age) neurology from a personal perspective.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-02-04 12:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)