After several testings, I have finally put together some sets of DIY papercut patterns, available at my Etsy shop. Yay!
This first set includes: 1 Red Riding Hood, 1 Alice in Wonderland, 1 Peter Rabbit and 1 Pinocchio. Once finished, each piece in the set will fit into a 5″x7″ frame or larger. You don’t need to transfer or draw these patterns on any surface because they are already printed on the exact paper that I use for my work. This is a beautiful archival paper, 100% cotton, acid-free, and the color is ivory. The pink color that you see in the pictures is the part that will be cut out from the design.
All you will need is a knife (I recommend an X-Acto knife with the #11 blade) and a self-healing cutting mat . This is a great opportunity for you to give papercutting a try. These pieces won’t only make great gifts but they will also be a therapeutic activity to enjoy. From personal experience I can say that papercutting is one of the most relaxing activities that I have ever practiced. I see it as a form of meditation.
Let’s start by taking a look at this pattern featuring Peter Rabbit. Do you see the numbers? Each number is a little “island” within the general design. We are basically going to cut out these islands, one at a time, following the numerical order. The black broken lines that you notice here are just a way to turn large spaces into islands.
Before you start working on the first pattern, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to take a piece of paper and make some cuts on it just to “warm up”. To start cutting, hold the knife in the position that is most comfortable to you. I do it in the same way that I hold a pen. Below is a practice sheet that I encourage you to download, print out on regular office paper, and cut. It will give you confidence to start up. Yes! You can do it!
Here you can see how I just cut out the island #1. You will be doing this with your knife, and my number one advice is: enjoy the process and relax. Imagine that you’re a surgeon doing an exciting “operation” in order to bring your pattern to life. While making the cuts, hold the paper with your other hand for more control and rotate it as needed.
Here I just cut island #2.
Keep cutting. The key is to relax and enjoy the process.
After all the islands have been cut out, you will have some smaller details to work on. I want to tell you a little secret about how to cut the eye: instead of doing a circular cut, make short straight cuts, one next to the other around the edge of the circle. In this picture you can see how I did it.
When you look at the piece, your eye will see a nice little circle. The straight cuts won’t show. You see them in this photo because this is a close up.
So, after the inner part of the design has been cut out, we are now ready to cut the outer silhouette of the apple. And this is very easy too.
In order to do that I illustrated another secret for you: how to cut curves. In order to cut curved lines without accidents all you need is to do it gradually. Don’t try to cut a looooong line because it is very possible to go wrong and ruin the design. See the example above and notice how I made my first short cut.
Here I I took a nice breath, I looked through the window in my studio to see the flowers outside and then I made the second short cut. I’m feeling very calm and relaxed.
Then I did the third cut (I looked at the flowers again…) And before I realized I was already done cutting my Petter Rabbit piece. Yay!!!
It it great seeing the piece finished and ready to frame. It makes you fell proud of having completed the entire work from the beginning to the end.
Now you understand why I haven’t been able to stop making papercuts. Once you make one with the right state of mind, then you will want to make more complicated ones.
I wish you all my best in your papercutting adventure!!
PS. This post was written in 2009. Now is 2013 and I am happy to tell you about the digital papercut patterns that I designed recently. You can purchase and instantly download them from this shop. I included another tutorial with the listings.