I went to the Paper Artist Collective exhibition in Hackney last weekend and received quite a wonderful surprise, I am not nearly as unskilled as I feared! I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, but 99% of the paper cuts I see are online, and almost without exception the photographs are not close up. Focused macro photography often shows what paper artists don't talk about, the tiny bits of fluff at the corner of a paper cut intersection, areas where we over cut, mistakes, or what I like to think of as the 'rind' coming off the paper. Paper is pressed and so the top surface you write on, when cutting, sometimes comes away in a layer and this flies up a bit from the rest of the paper. It can be very difficult to get rid of. I often slice it at an angle, trying to hide the cut, without going any deeper than that rind.
So I was very pleased to see that everyone had these little imperfections and as I explained to my last workshop, paper cuts look best from a small distance. In part, I think, this is due to human perception. We perceive a whole, where often there isn't one. I find trying to conceive of paper cut designs quite difficult because of this. Perhaps thought, it's really just retraining my brain to perceive negative and positive space.
Similarly I came across an old work of mine earlier this week and then a similar work by one of the best paper carvers anywhere (her term), Maude Alta. Here is my piece from about a year ago.
The similarity in pictures is actually a coincidence. My desk is red, and it's a common practice to hold what you've made as a paper cutter so you can get a sense of scale. What's fairly obvious is that I still have a very long way to go. Yet, in the few years I've been doing this I've gotten so much father just teaching myself than I ever thought I would. Still, this level of craftsmanship is extreme. I've only seen one other person capable of such delicate hadmade work (Mr. Riu).
This leaf took me about 5 hours to make, I suspect it would take about half that time now. I am also of the opinion that she carves using a much thinner paper than I do. I'm not sure how else the joins could be so fine. Still, it's fantastic and maybe I need to practice on thinner paper.