The Process #1 | Tropical Leafy Papercut

I've spent the past couple of months taking every little opportunity to make progress on the papercut for my giveaway winner Lucy! She's been super, super patient with me (bless her) and so I've been able to produce a piece with more fine detail than anything I've ever cut before. It's been a long process but I've really enjoyed it and feel like I've managed to create something that I can be proud of giving away!! I took quite a few progress pictures along the way so I thought it'd be interesting to share the process with you as I think a lot of the effort which goes into papercutting can sometimes be overlooked! :)

The first thing I did before starting this papercut was talk to Lucy about the kind of thing she wanted. She was really keen to have a nature based papercut and sent me a couple of photos of the kind of thing she was after. I also created a Pinterest board filled with leafy inspiration, which I referred to when drawing out the initial design. I was particularly inspired by one of the photos she sent me of a tropical plant house, which showed the plants being viewed through a doorway. I decided that this was the kind of framing I was going to give the piece to add a bit of interest to the border.

Once I'd measured out the size to ensure that it fitted the frame I'd picked up, I started to draw out the basic pattern lightly in pencil on the black card. I never do this in much detail as I like to let the scalpel determine the thickness of the lines as I'm cutting, but it gave me a rough idea of where I wanted everything to be. Balancing both sides of the papercut is important as too much positive or negative space on either side makes the design feel a bit "off" somehow. However, I wanted to keep it looking kind of free and wild to convey the ~overgrown planty~ look. Then came the hardest (yet most enjoyable) part - cutting it all out! One of the things that I find quite easy about papercutting is visualising how it will look when it's finished. Separating the positive areas (the parts of the paper which remain to form the design) and the negative areas (the parts I will cut away to "reveal" the design in the paper) comes quite naturally to me. The hardest part is making sure that nothing tears or pulls when larger sections begin to get cut away. As you remove areas of the paper with the scalpel, the overall structural strength of the paper weakens quite a bit, making it easier to make a mistake. If I'm being honest, I ended up cutting this design twice, as towards the end of my first attempt my scalpel blade was becoming quite blunt and it dragged through the paper and ruined it. I probably could have salvaged the original papercut, but my inner perfectionist didn't want to send out a product that I knew I wouldn't be happy receiving myself. So I started again. Typical me.

These were taken 6 hours into cutting (including the planning stage) and 8 hours into cutting. The plants at the bottom took the longest amount of time as the lines are the thinnest I've ever been able to cut without the paper weakening too much! The first stage (pictured left) was surprisingly my favourite point - I love the complexity of the plants juxtaposed with the solid, uncut paper.

This is the final scan of the piece, which I am so, so happy with! Although at times it was quite frustrating, it makes me so happy seeing how it came together. I'm thinking of creating some prints based on this design so let me know if you would be interested in something like that! Hopefully Lucy loves it as much as I loved cutting it - it's so exciting seeing my designs making their way into people's homes!! :) I'm open to commissions for the rest of summer so if you want a papery addition to your home you can email me or message me on Twitter/Instagram!

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