Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: The Paper Cut-Out Design Book

As mentioned here previously, I have a great love for paper. Playing with paper is one of my favorite pastimes -- Paper clothes, paper beads, paper greetings, paper figures (origami)... Few things are more satisfying than taking a simple, ordinary piece of paper and turning it into something completely new.

In my previous post on Finding Scherenschnitte Patterns Online, I noted that shortly after falling in love with the traditional German paper cutting craft and writing the aforementioned article, I also did a book review that I published at Helium for Ramona Jablonski's The Paper Cut-Out Design Book. This coffee table book sized paperback volume is a paper lover's dream.

Looking at Ramona Jablonski's other books listed on Amazon, I can see I have some shopping to do in the not too distant future. Right after I go through all those boxes I took out of storage last year that are still stacked in the corner. Ah, where does the time go?

At any rate...

The Paper Cut-Out Design Book by Ramona Jablonski

The beauty and history of folk art paper cutting traditions is thoroughly and adeptly explored through four cultures in Ramona Jablonski’s The Paper Cut-Out Design Book from Stemmer House Publishers.
The book begins with a look into the history of paper cutting in China, which Jablonski notes dates back at least fifteen centuries (as of the book’s publication in 1976). She gives no official name for the Chinese craft, unlike the included traditions of Mon-Kiri (which later evolved to Kirigami), Scherenschnitte, and Wycinanki, which are Japanese, German and Polish traditions, respectively. (She briefly mentions Scherenschnitte being practiced in Switzerland as well.)
Examples of incredibly beautiful and delicate designs, intricately cut and resembling heavy line drawings, illustrate the pages throughout the book along with silhouettes, cut outs embellished by hand painting and carefully cut stencils used to embellish textiles.
Once readers have marveled over the illustrations and gleaned some of the history of this elegant folk art they can move on to learning the tools and techniques of the craft itself with the information given for working with both flat and folded papers.
Paper cutting enthusiasts can begin by trying their hand at a Chinese style flat paper design of a flower cut-out and then move on to German fold and cut techniques. Instructions for the German techniques (Scherenschnitte) begin with simple symmetrical designs that are achieved by folding a piece of paper in half. The book then moves on to show repeats in multiples of two from a fairly simple design where the motif is repeated four times to a more intricate one with the motif repeated sixty-four times for cuts resembling snowflakes and doilies.
Scrapbook enthusiasts and other paper craft hobbyists will find the border design and paper doll tutorials useful in creating embellishments for their layouts, while hard core admirers of paper cut design will appreciate the section on how to break down an existing design and find the repeat to copy the motif.
Jablonski shows readers step by step how to reproduce some of the classic designs displayed in the book and prepare them for mounting and framing. She also gives readers examples of how to use paper cuts for other crafting including needlework projects and includes a section on paper cutting with children.
The Paper Cut-Out Design Book is an excellent reference for historical information as well as design and cutting how-to, containing a wealth of information to enthrall, entice and inspire.

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