Paper cutting Basics #1 | Intro & Supplies

Paper-cutting is an art form adapted to many different cultures and styles all around the world.
It originated in China, where papercuts were used for festivities.
Centuries later, they still have a decorative purpose and make a popular handmade gift.
Contemporary papercuts are preserved and presented in frames,
especially shadow boxes to create a dramatic visual effect.
There are several cutting methods, but the most popular ones are with scissors and scalpels.
Depending on the design, it takes from a couple of hours to several days to produce a papercut.
In this series of videos, you will learn everything about supplies, design, cutting and framing process.
Every artist has his own style, but if you’re not interested in designing your own artwork, there are many templates already available online.
Here is an example of a very simple template. The drawing is what will be left once you remove all white areas.
Therefore, you can see that all grey lines are connected.
Once cut, you’ll have a papercut in one piece.
When it comes to paper, it’s best to try out several types to know which one you like the most.
For very thin and intricate papercuts, 80 GSM (grams per square meter) paper is perfect.
It’s just the standard printer/copy paper. This is an example of 110 GSM.
It’s not easy to find it in a ream, so take a look at sketch pads sketch pads, which are often produced in A4 size,
which makes printing templates at home easier. The paper inside is slightly textured, but still smooth.
135 GSM is slightly thicker and has a very nice texture.
It can be found in pretty much any convenience and craft shops.
This is a colored paper pad. Most papercuts are usually white or black, but colored papers can be used for infills,
small pieces of paper placed behind the papercut. You’ll learn all about infills in the following episodes.
Another option is smooth or hammered cardstock, 150-160 GSM.
It’s relatively thick and harder to bend without creating creases, compared to the other types of papers previously shown.
Besides size, weight and texture, you can choose matte, glossy or metallic finish when buying papers.
Here you can see the difference between these papers.
Most papercutters prefer to work with 110-160 GSM paper. There is no right or wrong paper to use, it’s just matter of preference.
As for other supplies, you will need a self-healing mat or a glass cutting mat.
It’s easier to work on glass if you’re cutting through thicker paper because the blade glides better,
but for thinner paper use self-healing mat, where you need to apply more pressure to cut through.
Glass mat tends to blunt the blade faster. Instead of a flat mat, I worked with a curved one for smaller paper cuts
and to extend the life of my blades.
To find a good scalpel, visit your craft shop or local pharmacy.
You will need a very sharp and pointy blade, so Xacto knives are very good.
Have several spare blades ready because sometimes the blade snaps or it starts to drag the paper,
which means you have to change it. Also keep a sharps box nearby to discard used blades safely.
However, I find that surgical scalpels are the best for paper cutting because there are many to choose from.
This is a Morton scalpel, number 18, great for paper cuts larger than A4 size because the blade is slightly curved.
For smaller details, use a number 11 or 15a blade, they’re much smaller, so the tip is very sharp.
I always use number 11 blade. It’s suitable both for cutting curved lines as well as details and letters.
But keep in mind that you’ll need a light, thin blade for thin paper and the thicker, stronger blade for heavy paper.
You can buy new set of blades when you use the old ones so be careful when replacing them.
Make sure the sharp tip of the blade touches the bottom of the container and that the dull part faces the open top.
When pulling them out, don’t turn the container upside down so the blades fall on your hand. Use a piece of paper instead.
Blades don’t seem very sharp when you look at them, but they can be very dangerous, so handle them with caution.
If you can’t find an appropriate scalpel, visit your hardware store to buy a set of precision knives.
You can use these four blades in this specific set, but the other ones won’t be very useful for paper cutting.
Don’t forget to take a small container for paper cutouts. It can be really anything, a cup
or a plastic container.
An utility knife can also be useful if you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money on supplies.
It’s the most affordable tool, especially if your scalpel has diagonal indents on the blade and a slit in the cap piece on the bottom of the handle.
That means that you can remove the used blade slide it in the opening in the cap and break the blade
along the diagonal indent to have a new sharp tip.
Now that you are familiar with all supplies that a beginner papercutter needs, here is an example of a simple finished papercut.
Number 11 blade, black 110 GSM paper and some colored paper for infills were used.
It’s framed and ready to be put on the wall.
In the next episode, I’ll explain the process of designing a papercut, making a template by hand as well drawing digitally using computer software.
Later you’ll see how to prepare, cut decorate and frame a papercut.

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