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.
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.
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.
Most of my map cutting has been rectilinear; they are more or less street maps without the names. It's very classic and recognizable. The name of the city is provided by me, but not on the map. What I noticed was that in giving them to people, it's the landmarks on which they orient themselves first. We are not used to looking at everything from above, in an abstract linear sense and knowing where we are. Once oriented to the landscape, recognition arrives gradually. It slowly dawns, these waves of revelation, as the map starts to take on meaning.
I decided that I wanted to make a series of maps that focused on these landmarks. I thought that in choosing a circle, like Fra Mauro, I owed something to the planisphere, though clearly my maps aren't adjustable or useful for star charting. As proof-of-concept I created my first map of Oxford. Rather than make the map circle centered on a square of paper as I initially thought I would, I moved it up in my design and added the name of the city to the bottom. This was the mock I drew before I cut:
I spent several hours walking the island and deeply enjoying the height of a glorious NY summer. In previous map cutting exercises with islands in rivers I usually just left the entire island white to signify a lack of roads at the scale of the rest of the map. However, that seemed disingenuous to the experience of the island. So I attempted to finely trace the edges of the island and then a few of the paths to give a sense of it as an accessible space.
One of the primary difficulties I have when I am drawing my lines for cutting is the shoreline. There are several different ways to approach this. It gets complicated when roads run right up to the edge as they often do in large cities. In this photo you can see that the large sections of white represent area that has no road but is not the river. This is sometimes convenient when there are parks or beaches, but in a place like Manhattan or London the roads run alongside and I have to determine how much space to give to maintain the character of what I'm cutting. In this case it turned out quite well. However, I'm likely to cut it differently again the next time because I dislike the thin line at the shore. In other pieces I've made the river boundary thin or made the river solid. This is what I mean when I talk about experimenting with representation and why I like to return to my designs and try something new.