The Making of a Paper cut
Papercuts are very delicate, detailed and intricate works of art. They are the fruit of a creative process that combines artistry, imagination and great dexterity.
The Ancient Art of Papercutting
Papercuts are designs or patterns cut from a single piece of paper. All parts of a papercut are connected in one piece, and connected lines form the picture. Rice paper (Xuan paper) is the material of choice for papercutting. The tools are scissors or engraving knifes.
The art of papercutting has a long and rich history. The earliest known patterns cut out of paper date back to the Northern Dynasties Period (386 - 581 AD) in China. Prior to the invention of paper, the cutting art had already been practiced on leather and gold and silver foils. It is generally believed that the craft of papercutting emerged soon after paper first appeared in China some two thousand years ago.
Papercutting is not an isolated art form. Throughout its long history, it has exerted an influence on other genres of art including leather silhouette, cloth printing, embroidery, porcelainware and lacquerware.
The techniques of papercutting is relatively easy to master by folk artists. The tools required are simple and inexpensive. These factors contributed to the survival and continued popularity of the art form.
As a folk art, papercutting occupies a significant position in folk activities. Papercuts are common ornamental items for Chinese holidays and festivals. They are often used to convey well wishes and symbolic meanings. One is almost certain to see double happiness papercut designs at a wedding. In earlier times, newlyweds might find a papercut of pomegranate blossom attached to their bed as a symbol of fertility.
Folk motifs such as daily life, flowers, animals and symbols are familiar subjects of papercuts. The Chinese zodiac animals are a common theme. Figures and scenes from legends and religion are also popular. Papercuts are used for decorative purposes on doors, windows, walls, lanterns, among other places.
Batik is fabric dyed with a wax-dyeing technique. Melted wax is applied to cloth before the cloth is dipped in dye. The fabric is dyed where it is not covered by wax. A multi-colored wall hanging is created through a series of waxing, dyeing and drying steps. Fine crinkle lines produced during the process give batik its character.