I get asked fairly regularly about how I do what I do, my tools, materials and methods.
I hope people appreciate that this just isn't something that you can start doing and be really good at instantly I have a degree in Fine Art and even with that behind me it does take a lot of practice, to prove this here is one of my first papercuts from 31st December 2010;
Note the dodgy curves and ragged edges!
Now compare to recent work made in 2012;
Smooth curves, good even writing, fine detail. Just goes to show how skills and ability can improve within a year and a bit and I continue to improve and produce more detailed works as I go along.
I firstly say that everything I use to make my cuts is a personal preference, I speak to several other papercutters and we use a fairly wide variety of tools/paper/methods to design so nothing is really right or wrong but if you want to try this should give you a good starting block for trying it out. I haven't really included specifics in a lot of ways because a girl has got to have some trade secrets doesn't she? What I use may not be right for you so please just take the advice on board do a little research and have a play with the materials that are out there because there are no hard and fast rules.
First you really need a cutting mat, please don't try cutting on cardboard or anything flimsy as you will either cut yourself or damage the surface you are working on. Self healing ones are good and you want one that is at least the same size as the paper you are working on, I use an A2 one as I do larger works sometimes, I also turn mine regularly to stop cutting in the same place constantly and you get a longer life out of it.
Scalpels, no right and wrong to this, I use a round handled Swann Morton handle, I know other papercutters use the more surgical style, flat handled ones, this is a personal thing I feel more comfortabtle with a light weight, pencil thickness one, I also wrap plasters around mine for more comfort.
I use number 11 blades as they have a good fine point on them, again personal preference but you want to change the blade regularly a blunt blade means your paper will tear and you will be more likely to slip whilst cutting and either slice through whole sections of paper or cut yourself as you use more pressure to cut with a blunt blade than a sharp one.
A metal ruler is a must if you want to cut straight lines a plastic ruler will get cut by the blade you will end up with a wonky ruler and a very blunt blade quickly.
Paper I use thicker paper around 140-160gsm other use thinner, personal choice yet again, I find thinner paper much more difficult to work with and more prone to tearing/crumpling but others find it better and easier. There are loads of art shops in the world and online that sell lots of lovely coloured paper and you do have to go through a trial and error to find what works for you.
I had draw all my designs in pencil, backwards and then cut the reverse so the front of the paper stays clean and no problems with having to rub out pencil lines.
So the above image is turned the lovely cut below and can you imagine trying to rub out the design from the front of something like this?!
Not fun or easy and the fastest route to a lovely tree becoming a crumpled, creased mess.
You can computer design, I cannot because I am useless with it so drawing by hand is by far the easiest option for me.
My best advice is to have fun, don't stab/cut yourself with the scalpel and just enjoy it.
I will say that it can hurt, I regularly lose the fingerprints on my right hand from the pressure of cutting and my fingers can get very sore but plasters and a good moisturise are usually quite soothing and helps. My back/shoulder used to ache like hell after I had finished something when I first started cutting so sit in a decent position, my muscles have no become used to cutting so don't be surprised as I still get aches in my back/side/ribs from it. Sit somewhere with plenty of light and a good flat surface that you aren't going to slip on.
I hope this helps everyone and if you want to see me cutting I did a little video which you can watch
I am delighted to say that the papercut for Marie Curie raised a fantastic £450 at the auction! It was the highest amount raised by a singe lot at the auction :)
I have also donated to two other charities and in total my pieces have raised well over £550 in the last couple of weeks so I am very pleased and delighted that people are so generous!
Last year I was approached by Emma Finch who asked me if I would be willing to donate a piece of work to be auctioned off in March 2012 at a charity ball held in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.
At the time my grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I agreed pretty much immediately.
Sadly Nanna passed away in September of 2011, I miss her greatly she was a very strong and amazing woman with the most wicked sense of humour, all through her life she was uncomplaining and right until the end she refused to let anything beat her and I am very proud to be her granddaughter.
This is a picture of us together not long before she was diagnosed;
Nanna had support and care from the wonderful cancer nurses from St David's Foundation so I knew from experience that giving support to Marie Curie would allow someone else to receive this kind of care which is so wonderful and the nurses are amazing people who are needed by patents and their families.
Whilst emailing back and fore with Emma she asked if the Marie Curie logo of the daffodil could be incorporated within the design so I suggested a heart made up of flowers possibly an A-Z of different types and so this idea started research into lots of different flowers!
This is the initial stencil that I drew and cut;
This was then drawn out on grey paper as myself and Emma discussed colour option and I said about something neutral as the winner would the be able to place it anywhere and it would not clash and black seemed a bit hard so we settled on a nice grey. It will then be backed with cream paper.
This is the drawing of the cut, I made some minor adjustments and changed the sizes of some flowers to make it flow better and make the scale of each flower similar.
Then I started cutting and this is how it developed!
Sometimes my hand hurt a lot and became quite sore from the intensity of cutting such a large piece so I ended up with some plasters on my hands like this from time to time.
The daffodil was a very special part to cut and it is the Maie Curie logo daffodil adjusted slightly to make it work as a paper cut but is still recognisable.
Just keep cutting!
You can see the pencil drawing on the following images that I used to cut the piece
I then came to the final section that needed to be cut
The Allium was the final flower to be cut
This is complete but unframed
Pinholes were put into the centre of some flowers to give the effect of pollen/seeds and small cuts were made in some places to give the effect of creases in petals.
This is me with the piece it is A2 in size and I am 5ft 2" tall and weight about 7 stone.
I then went on a little trip to Ikea for a frame and the daffodil was backed specially in yellow to make it stand out.
The piece will be up for auction on the 3rd of March at the Daffodils in the Parc Charity Ball, bids can be made on it even if you cannot attend the ball by emailing your maximum bid to Emma Finch at email@example.com and bids will be made on your behalf.
I am so excited to be raising funds for such a good cause and I hope the auction winner is pleased with the piece.
I am actually useless at doing anything other than Facebook, my twittering is sporadic at best and my last attempt at a blog was dead in the water so this year my twittering will be better and my blog will not drown under my lack of effort towards it.
So to begin again;
Hello I am Charlie, I am currently 24, I graduated from the University of Wales, Newport with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Fine Art in 2010, I drink lots of tea, I have a slight case of art induced OCD and I make paper cuts like this;
I have a Facebook page which you should like and a Twitter account that you should follow.
I promise to update this blog more this year at least once a week with what I am doing and general prettiness from myself and a few other lovelies!