Kirigami – The Japanese Art of Paper Cutting


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Kirigami is the ancient Japanese art of paper cutting. Quite simply, kiri means “to cut” and gami, means “paper”.

Making kirigami is as simple as taking a piece of paper and cutting tool (such as scissors or scalpel type knife) drawing an image and cutting it out.  There are of course other techniques that are used, such as different ways of folding the paper (like Japanese origami) followed by cutting an image out.
By following a few steps, it’s possible to create beautiful cut outs to decorate scrapbooks, cards, window hangings and even pop-up decorations.

In the beginning, it may sound difficult to do, but Kirigami is actually fun for for all ages and art levels.
Many children have actually tried Kirigami projects in their elementary schools.  Usually in winter, paper snowflakes are made, cut out hearts for Valentine’s Day, or a string of people holding hands to promote cooperation and friendship.  All of these fun and simple projects are kirigami.

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As a first attempt, remember that the difficulty is up to the creator.  There are many projects that require simple cuts and designs. Choose any image with few details and begin from there on a blank piece of paper. It’s important to keep the main image outline attached and only the “meaty” portions cut out.

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The main tools and materials required for Kirigami are paper, a pencil, scissors or scalpel knife, and if you would like to make more detailed designs, a mini stapler, which will reinforce flimsy areas and keep the paper aligned for precise cuts.

There are three main rules to Kirigami, and they are fold, draw and cut.
While some designs require fairly specific folds, the best way to start is by folding a piece of paper in half and drawing the image on one side only, making sure to include the folded edge withing the image (this will keep the two sides of the paper together and create a mirror image of what you cut).

When drawing the image that you would like to cut out, it’s best to draw half of it beginning from the folded edge. This works best for images like butterflies or flowers that require  symetrical sides.
Once finished, there are many different things the Kirigami cut outs can be used for.

Here are some examples:

  • Seal and string them up to make mobiles.
  • Frame it in a clear glass frame for decoration around the home.
  • Add translucent or metallic paper to the back (or create two identical cut outs to “sandwich” the metallic paper) and create a stained glass look. It’s a beautiful window hanging.
  • Make small Kirigami pieces, secure them to colourful or contrasting paper and place a magnet on the back.
  • Secure them to blank cards or notebooks for decoration.
  • Fold or curve them and secure the ends to create pop-up art.
  • Use them as stencils.

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try different kirigami techniques and combine them with other things like origami. The most important thing is to have fun with it and learn as you go.

Please check my blog to see more kirigami examples and  step-by-step projects.

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Source by Miho Suzuki