How to Create a Paper Cutting Design


Paper cutting is an ancient art form from around the world. Designs are personal symbols with meaning to individual cutters. Guild of American Papercutters member Kathy Trexel Reed says designs are formed "Like a web, not a collage." Drawings are tied together with overlapping lines and then cut as one piece of artwork. Traditional motifs of the Pennsylvania Dutch are tulips, birds and hearts. Incorporate ideas that hold meaning for you as the artist.

Things You'll Need

  • Typing paper
  • Pencil
  • Manicure scissors
  • Fold one sheet of typing paper in half.

  • Draw a design using symbols that have meaning in your life or in the life of the person who will receive the paper-cutting design. A simple heart is a good familiar start and becomes an anchor for the rest of your design.

  • Add more lines and shapes that cross over your original lines. Flowers and stems are great in this step. All areas of the design need to be connected; draw curving lines to connect any elements that are standing alone.

  • Check to be certain that all the lines in your design overlap one another and that none of the elements stands alone. Any parts that are not connected to the whole will fall out of the design when you cut it.

  • Plan to have a balance of thick portions with finely detailed sections in your design. The lines you draw will be the portion of the design that remains after cutting, so plan accordingly.

  • Cut the smallest internal sections of the design and remove them. Proceed through the design, removing all the areas between the lines by cutting them with small manicure scissors.

Tips & Warnings

  • Any paper cut can use the fold as part of the design or become two separate cuttings.

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  • Photo Credit Michael Hitoshi/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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