Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Art of Papercutting by Jessica Palmer: Book review

I like other crafts apart from sewing.  I'm a fan of papercutting, it's more appreciation and enjoyment of others' artistry rather than producing papercut artwork of my own.  My husband makes me papercut cards.  He's not a particularly artsy person, but we both love papercut art, especially those with a dark, fairy tale aesthetic.  Search Press sent me a list of their latest art and craft titles up for review and rather than the usual quilting books, the cover of Jessica Palmer's The Art of Papercutting caught my eye,



You may recognise her name and style from the hugely popular Tangle Wood, a deluxe colouring book printed on beautiful quality paper.  Her papercutting aesthetic is slightly different; I can see lots of European art traditions  influencing her work and I especially like her use of colour in amongst all the back and white.  The bird image below is a Polish Style wycinaki piece.


I handed this book first to my husband as he has done a lot more papercutting than me and we ended up going through it together.  We both agreed it is a practical book, packed full of amazing inspiration and papercutting eye candy but with easily accessible text and instructions.  Jessica encourages you to get started, find inspiration and sketch your idea. 


She lists easy-to-find equipment, no frills.  After a little digging around, I found I had all the materials I needed in the house and I use sewing carbon paper to transfer my design.


Around a third of the book is history, techniques and papercutting genres, the rest is about art in paper and shows examples  of different papercutting art from book covers to life drawing and includes additional techniques and information with it.  The 'Cutting with a Knife' section in the first part of the book has concise text and large photographs so you can see each step of the process in detail.  There are practical tips sprinkled throughout the how-to sections and I picked up some useful ideas like wrapping the end of the knife in masking tape so the blade doesn't dig into your fingers!  The iris design on these pages is one of the templates included at the end of the book.


Jessica's artwork is jaw-droppingly good.  She's bold and exploits the contrast of colour that can be easily created with solid paper as well as the fragility of the form.  I love the variety of artwork that she's included in her selection, it's a pleasure to browse through.


The templates at the end can be seen in their finished art work form elsewhere in the book.   I'm not sure they were totally necessary, they seem like a bit of an extra addition but if you want a starting point they can be traced or scanned for you won use.  The text says they are of 'increasing complexity' although that is not reflected in the order they appear- that seems very mixed up!  The Iris design below is relatively straightforward but the Fern papercut next to it is a real challenge!


I originally chose to review this book with an eye to my husband being encouraged to do more  papercutting but I was so taken with the imagery that I gave it a whirl.  Paper crafts are not my strong point.  I find paper rather ephemeral and although I love drawing, cutting and fragility make me a little tense!  I chose a vintage image from a Singer Sewing book as a starting point.


I simplified the design along the way; I omitted the flower, kept the bobbin and added the needle and thread.  I used some  brown wrapping paper for the underlay behind bobbin and some marbled paper from distant primary teacher days (that paper must be 18 years old!).  The design was simple enough to cope with my lack of experience and I liked the result!

These are a couple of cards my husband has made for me over the years.  Much treasured!


We both rated The Art of Papercutting very highly .  It's got a great mix of practicality and artistic inspiration.  Jessica Palmer's artwork is so enjoyable to look at and there's a huge breadth in her work. 

*This book was sent for free for review purposes. I only review books that I have a genuine interest in. All opinions are my own*

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