Emergency Cuts

Imagine this: you are making your last cut for a commissioned artwork. You’ve been straining your neck for the past 2 hours. Finally, you hold the paper with both hands, raise it to eye level, and admire your hard work for a few seconds. You’re about to give yourself a pat on the back when… Bam! You realize you’re missing an entire line of three words. You’re world crumbles (exaggeration) and you swear to yourself that you did double-check everything when you made the draft. Or so you think.

How in the world of Van Gogh did that happen? You must have been singing along mindlessly to a favorite song. You could have also been enjoying (more than a normal person should) the flawless feel of your prized stone paper against your fingertips. Or maybe, your hands are just faster than your brain at the moment. There could be a thousand reasons for all we know. Never mind the how’s. This calls for an emergency. 

Here are some tips that you can follow when trying to save a “wounded” papercut art:

1. Look at the artwork as a whole. Does the mistake visibly pop out? If it would take a microscope and an overly obsessive compulsive person like you to see it, let it go. Remedying it may just compromise the entire project and you will just waste the hours you’ve spent on the whole thing. Of course, if it’s text that you’re missing, then that’s a different story. In that case, read #3.

2. If you can, try to look for the papercut debris of the part you were making. You must have cut more than you should, and that bit of paper can be attached using an invisible glue or a clear double-sided tape. Emphasis on invisible and clear. A glue stain and peeking tape will just put more attention to the damaged area. 

3. When you miss a word or phrase (try not to do this one!), don’t scrap everything yet. You may still salvage your artwork (but you will only realize this after a few minutes of cursing at yourself). 

  

 In the image above, I missed the phrase you’ll know it. It was a good thing that there was a line connecting the phrases. I removed everything below that line, recreated it, measured the remaining space, and figured how to fit the rest of the sentence in that space. Finally, I secured it in place with double-sided tape. If you look hard enough, you’ll see (the goal is that you won’t) that the diagonal line holding the additional phrase is on top of the old line.  

For the papercut project below, instead of missing a word, I duplicated the word be. This was easier to fix as it’s as simple as cutting out the extra word. The result was a gap between always and be. It bothered me for a bit, but I was told that It looked like it was deliberately done, so I let it go.   

No matter how good you are or how long you’ve been crafting, making a mistake will always be inevitable. When you do, try not to be too hard on yourself. Mistakes are there anyway to be corrected and learned from. 

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I Won’t Give Up

Whenever I am commissioned for a project to be given as a gift, my clients always inform me who the recipient is. While this information is something that they voluntarily give, I find it helpful in coming up with the details concerning the design and overall look of the project. For instance, if the recipient is a teenage girl who is very feminine, floral designs and pink frames are a safe choice; while if it is for a guy, the color scheme would normally consist of earth and neutral tones, and geometric lines for the design.

For this project, I was contacted through e-mail.  I can’t explain it, but I get really kilig whenever someone I don’t personally know contacts me for a commission. Must be the amateur crafter in me. Haha. Anyway, as I was saying, my client for this project requested a few lines from a song by Jason Mraz and a sketch of his (Mraz’s) face in one of his albums to be included in the papercut.

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I was more than willing to accept the project not only because I am a Mraz fan myself (and I love this song to bits and pieces), but also because I was told the papercut will be given as an anniversary gift to her husband. To be asked to make a personalized gift for a special someone — my favorite. I feel like Cupid, only with a crafting knife and pencil in hand, instead of bows and hearts. =) Oh, and fully clothed of course! Haha!

So… Here is the project:

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When my client first told me that the project is a song by Jason Mraz, I just knew the project must be all-white. I don’t really know why this immediately came to mind, I just thought this would give the desired effect I want on the project. Plus, it’s for a male recipient — I didn’t want too many colors. Looking at how it turned out, my instinct couldn’t have been more spot on 😉

Here’s the video, for those of you who might not be familiar with the song. I was lucky enough to watch Mraz perform this song in his concert in Manila last year. Such a talented artist, this man.

 

The Moon and the Stars

I’ve been locked up in my room all day today. Being a Saturday and the start of a long weekend, I had the liberty to wake up late, lay on my bed lazily while watching a movie, and organize my washi and paper tape collection. 20131228-165727.jpg I figured since I’ve been making my projects for two days straight, I needed some time off. Even just for today. Speaking of projects, I think I may have framed my favorite project as of yet. This is a commissioned artwork for a friend whom I’ve done plenty of papercuts for before. 20131228-170301.jpg I just love the effect the double-glass frame makes on the papercut, don’t you agree? I think I’m gonna buy more from where it came from. 20131228-170316.jpg I love the message too! Sending everyone an early New Year’s greeting! Here’s another one who’d also like to send her well wishes 🙂 20131228-170635.jpg

Tips and Tricks in Papercutting

I know I’ve only been cutting for a good five months, but in that length of time, I’ve had my share of discoveries and mistakes in papercutting. And while I am still continuously making these (discoveries and mistakes alike), I just thought I could share them with my followers who might be interested in the hobby as well. Here are my ten tips and tricks that will be handy when you get into papercutting:

1. Buy your frame beforehand.

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This first tip might seem odd to some, but this is what I’ve learned in my few months of papercutting. When I first got into the hobby, I was too excited to make papercuts that I made a lot of them in all shapes and odd sizes. By the time I realized I wanted to frame some of my best works, I had a difficult time looking for the perfect frame to fit them in. So yes. If you can, and if you can already picture your finished product, buy the frame first. Frame shops are very limited in Manila. And if you want to have a customized frame, it can really be expensive.

2. Make standard-sized papercuts.

If you would still prefer to choose a frame after making your project, make sure that the length and width of your project are the standards. By “standards”, I mean 8×10, 8.5×11, 8.5×13, 5×7, 6×8, and 4×6 dimensions (all in inches). These are the usual frame sizes that you can find in the mall or a bookstore. Others carry 9×12 and A4 sizes, but these are hard to find. And even if you find frames in an unusual size, chances are the color or design may not go well with your papercut.

3. Dont forget to leave an allowance for borders.

I hate to break this to you but while a 6×8″ frame may fit all of your 6×8″ papercut, not every detail will be seen, specifically the sides. Remember that some frames have wide borders which may cover the outer parts of your project, so take note of this before cutting. 

4. Change blades as often as needed.
Dull blades are the worst. They ruin the paper and make your project untidy. So when you feel like your blade is no longer cutting deeply into the paper, it’s time to change. I normally use a minimum of 2 blades per project, depending on the intricacy of the design. So buy spare blades. Lots of them. I hate it when I’d have to put off a project just because l ran out of blades. Trust me, you’d hate it too.

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5. Cut diagonally.

Avoid pointing your craft knife vertically. There may be designs which are so intricate that you’d point your knife in a close-to-90-degree angle to make sure you cut right through small holes or lines. Don’t. This is the usual culprit for breaking the tip of your blade. When this happens, your blade is just as good as breaking the entire thing altogether.

6. Take a break.

Whenever I’m making a project, I make sure that I take a break from time to time — usually after an hour of cutting. Check your e-mail, drink a cup of coffee, open your facebook, whatever floats your boat. This will give your fingers a chance to rest for a bit and will prevent you from getting backaches after a project.

7. Cut to the music!

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I can’t remember a time not ever listening to music while doing a project. Music – apart from coffee- is my fuel; it just keeps me going. Papercutting goes hand in hand with sound tripping (at least for me) so always be ready with your favorite playlist.

8. Sometimes, a “so-what” attitude helps.

You will, from time-to-time, commit mistakes. You’d accidentally cut a part you shouldn’t, realize you’ve misspelled a word after finishing an entire project, etc. When you do, try to repair the damage if you can. If not, so what? You’re only human. Mistakes, you gotta make them.

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Notice how there’s a space between “always” and “be” at the last line. That’s because I mistakenly put “the” in between, so that it would’ve looked like “will always the be the same”. I just removed the extra “the” to remedy the error. Fortunately, the space is in the middle of the phrase so it kinda looks intentional.

9. Never, ever, pull a loose papercut.

You’ve finished cutting a project and found a part you haven’t cut completely. Whatever you do, do NOT pull! It’s tempting, yes, but doing so might tear the surrounding paper. Stop being lazy and grab your cutting knife so can cut through the loose part completely.

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10. Take your time.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when doing a project. Instead, take your time and focus on the end product you want in mind. A project doesn’t have to be done in one sitting. Sometimes it can take days, weeks or months to finish a papercut. Remember, papercutting is a hobby. Hobbies are there to be enjoyed. So just relax and enjoy what you’re doing 🙂

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I could think of more than 10 tips, actually, but these should do for now. I hope you find these 10 tips helpful in your next project.

All Grown-ups Were Children First

This is a commissioned papercut inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s best-selling book The Little Prince.

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For this project, I used three pieces of paper to cut on: plain white paper for the little prince image and text, blue cardstock for the rays, and light blue printed scrapbooking paper for the waves on the foreground. The crumpled paper background was placed by my client herself. If I remember correctly, she used three pieces of Japanese paper and wrinkled them for a textured effect. Neat, huh? 😉