Papercutting, for me, has been an autodidactic hobby. (I like a ten dollar word, I won't apologize). I have never seen a class at a local college, an activity day at a festival or specialist training. To be honest, it is a bit obscure. I buy paper from an art shop and often take it home on the bus because of its size (A1 or often 22''x30''). I often get asked if I am an artist because of these same large sheets of paper wrapped in plastic sheeting to protect against the omnipresent British Damp. I avoid the question because I think it's prickly and say that I do papercutting. I get a lot of blank stares. Even the recent Matisse exhibition in London, prohibitively expensive as far as I was concerned, has not really given way to a greater knowledge about the practice. I'm not suggesting it should have either. If there is anywhere in the world that likes an eccentric toiling at an obscure hobby, it's Britain.

The primary source of information on papercutting is the internet. There are a host of videos and tutorials and patterns to be had. Maybe someday I'll produce a list. But the internet is often too full and as Edina Monsoon once said, "I don't want more choice. I just want nicer things". So I practiced and drew (still not my strong point) and came up with reasonable solutions to getting designs onto paper so I can cut them out.

It often happens that I want some design on paper and then work backwards to figure out how to get it there, so I can cut it out. My latest and largest piece is an example of this. I first found a large heavy (90lbs) piece of paper (Bockingford Watercolour) I liked the texture of. Then I thought I'd try and draw out a huge map of Chicago. Because I was born there and spent formative years there it's one of my favorite test options for new projects. It also, pleasingly, has grids and points of intense detail.

As you can see I didn't quite draw out all the lines. I realized that I'd forgotten one part of Grant Park until well into the cutting. Navy Pier played an important part in this process since it anchors the whole right side to the frame.

I decided that on this project I would actually use a stopwatch to see how long it took me to design, draw, and cut.
 Long story short: 35 hours.

I'm particularly proud of these bits where I was trying out a few new ways of cutting to achieve better results. But I love how it all came out.