Today I facilitated a paper cutting workshop at the Lawrence (Kansas) Public Library in conjunction with the Read Across Lawrence program. The workshop was inspired by the cover art of the featured RAL book “Cabinet of Wonders”. The turnout was great: 56 kids came and all actively participated.
My ultimate goal was to introduce them to simple paper cutting techniques and so I had them do three short projects based on characters or elements within the book.
The first was a bi-fold paper cutting based on the tin spider character, Astrophil, and inspired by chinese and german paper cutting. Since we were using scissors instead of x-acto knives, I stressed the importance of using their non-cutting hands to turn the paper rather than try to turn the scissors around the curves. This exercise introduced them to paper cutting in its simplest form and how you can achieve symmetry simply by using the fold.
The second project was a fox shadow puppet. I spoke very briefly on the history of shadow puppets out of Indonesia, and also how I started cutting paper using similar puppets for animation. I wanted them to see how to make a silhouette of a recognizable object as well as how it can have moving parts to bring it to ‘life’. The tail of the fox was hinged.
The third project was inspired by the astronomical clock that the main character’s father built in Cabinet of Wonders, as well as Polish paper cutting where several different colors of paper are layered on top of each other. Rather than give them a template for the cut out designs within the circles (which I did for the first project), I let them come up with their own designs by cutting shapes into tri-folded circles. Lots of different, unique results came out of it.
Many thanks to all the parents and kids who came and participated. My biggest hope is that they enjoyed themselves. And since paper cutting came to me so serendipitously, I always keep in the back of my mind that this little bit of exposure just might spark something greater in one of them. We’ll see.. Til next time.