New Paper Cut!

IMG_20130530_202330Okay, you’re gonna want to stay tuned until the end for this one, because I might be revealing some provocative information and LOTS of pictures!

So, I thought this week I’d walk you all through a paper cut from start to finish. Back when I first started taking Exacto to paper I showed one of my teachers and she said, “Before you know it, you’ll be designing your own.”  “Haha!” I scoffed, “Not bloody likely!” Then two months later I designed and cut my own. Go figure.

The first step is planning it all out. If you’re going for a kind of “window” effect, then you’re going to need to make sure your design touches the edges of your paper. It sounds obvious, but someone whose name sounds like Reth Rousil didn’t realize this the first time she did a paper cutting. I know! What a dumb ass! So I thought I’d mention it just in case.

Now what I do then is scan it into the computer. This way, you can keep that particular design for future use without damaging your original. Plus, because I am not always smart, I can block out the areas I’m going to cut avoiding any future disasters. tree-drawing

Here is the scanned drawing with the areas to cut out in grey. Apparently I upped the contrast a lot and there are some notes about another project bleeding through. So glad it’s not something like, “Oh dear God. Are her shoes prescribed for orthopedic reasons??” Not that I’d ever write something like that (I’d whisper it). Moving on, print out the now blocked out drawing, because it’s now our template.

Anyway, I didn’t get any pictures of the next part, so we’re just going to have to wing it. Get a self-healing cutting mat, a number eleven Exacto knife, some art tape (one roll will last you the rest of your life), the paper you want to cut, and the template. Tape down your paper, then tape your template over that. If you want, you can also tape down your mat so it doesn’t move. We’re ready to cut! Just go slowly. You can always go over an area again if your blade didn’t go all the way through.

Maybe get a kitty friend to help you!

Maybe get a kitty friend to help you!

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And eventually, we’re done! In this case, I layered it over a piece of grey paper and a cut a circle out of cool textured paper for the moon. Between every layer I glued little squares of foam core board to give some dimension.

Eh, I guess I owe you guys some provocative information? Sometimes I say and do dumb things (that was not the provocative info, just fact). If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that I’ve had a little ongoing joke about what I actually look like. My favorite is a toss-up between the people in a llama costume on the beach and the mugshot of a random person of indeterminate gender.  I’ve also told you guys about my 70ish pound weight loss. Well, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and share my “before” picture and current shot.

This is a little tough for me (and by “a little” I mean “a lot”) because my “before” picture is super embarrassing and not just because of my work pager and Jesus sandals. I thought I looked so cute that day and was MORTIFIED when the miracle of digital photography showed me instantly how big I had let myself get. I lost about 60 pounds with Weight Watchers, but by the time I enrolled back in school I had gained most of it back. I was only about 13-14 pounds less then that picture. About a month ago I showed some of my friends who didn’t know me then and they were nice about it (my friends are awesome), so I thought I would bite the bullet and take it public. You can always tell when I’ve restarted watching Mad Men again, because I have to let out my inner Joan Halloway via pencil skirts. Oh and the second one is in the bathroom mirror (ignore the litterbox) and that’s why my tattoo jumps legs.

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So that’s me. I’m not sure if I’ll have the courage to leave it up, but there it is. Have a great week!
-Beth

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Paper Cuts!

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My first successful attempt at a paper cut

For a while I’ve been wanting to try paper cutting. Not the slicing my finger while opening the bills kind of paper cutting, but the intentional kind.  I kept seeing these intricate and stunningly beautiful cut paper come across my Tumblr feed. They are really beautiful and delicate works of art that require amazing patience and skill. Even though I know I’ve got neither of those things, I really wanted to try my hand at paper cutting. So much of what I do is virtual and never makes it out of a hard drive that it’s very satisfying to create something with my hands.

So a few a months ago, I made a template and gave it a try. And it was a miserable failure. Let’s not ever speak of it again.

BUT I was undeterred and on Wednesday gave it another try. What I really threw me were there were so many great intricate designs out there, but people don’t go from no experience to master level paper cutter in one project. I did some hard hitting investigating (a google search) to try to see if there were any beginner level paper cutting templates out there. I finally found this site with tons of free templates. I figure once I get the basics down I can create my own, but starting out it’s probably better to stick to ones created by the pros.

In retrospect, I should have taken photos of the progress. But, honestly, I didn’t think it was going to turn out as well as it did, that’s how bad my first try was. It didn’t even take as long as I thought- slightly less then 2 hours from setting up my mat to the final photos. My google search didn’t really find any instructions for paper cutting, so I kinda had to wing it. Even though I’m new at it, I wanted to share what I know, in case anyone else feels inspired.

1- Tape everything down. Get a roll of art tape. It’s like painter’s tape, but for paper and a roll will last you approximately 75 years. Tape down your cutting mat, your paper, your template- everything but your knife. Your knife is less likely to slip this way.

2- Use paper that isn’t too thick. Some anonymous dumb ass (who lives in my house, wears my clothes and name rhymes with Keth Krousil) first tried to paper cut bristol board. So completely stupid! I used drawing paper on the one above and really liked it. It’s heavier then regular paper, but not so thick that it’s hard to work with.

3- Go slowly and don’t press too hard. I can’t state that enough. Last year I had a 3D design class that involved a lot of cutting things out of foam core board with the Exact-O and the principles are the same. You’ll have more precise lines if you make several passes of the knife going deeper and deeper each time then one very hard pass. Also, look slightly ahead, just a few centimeters, while cutting. I’ve found that makes my line a little more accurate.

4- It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not going to hang in the Guggenheim, so be easy on yourself. Plus, when people know that you’ve made it by hand, they’re really forgiving of your “mistakes”. If it’s something you want to do, the only mistake you can make is not trying.

5- Cut on the side that will not show. Like if you are making a card, cut on the inside. For some reason the side you are cutting ends up looking like ass, especially if your blade starts to dull. If you’re starting to get a lot of dragging or jagged edges, change your blade. They’re super cheap and it’s only going to make the end result look that much better if your blade is nice and sharp.

Oh and something else fun about paper cutting? It gives you the opportunity for some cool pictures. In addition to the opening one, I took this one:

elephant 1I’m going to make more paper cuts, if for no other reason then to take some cool pictures. This one is on it’s way to be a greeting card (so if the recipient happens to be reading, pretend like you are surprised and delighted when you open it) and I’m going to do another one ASAP. My relationship with the Exact-O knife is destined for tragedy (I’m super clumsy), but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. In the mean time, here are some inspirational paper cutting sites:

Folk Art Paper Cuts by Suzy Taylor  – She is a master. Unbelievable work.

Beautiful and Creative Art of Paper Cutting– A variety of artists work for some inspiration.

Scherenschnitte– Tons of free templates to get you started, if you want to give it a go.

Stock up on band aids and have a great week!