Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chinese Paper Cutting

Summer Fun grade 1 and 5 students have starting paper cutting. Ms. DeCurtis (LJA Artist and Physical Plant Manager) created lovely symestrical designs for us to start with. We cut butterflies, turtles, tigers, bears, fish, and traditional Hawaiian flowers. Students enjoyed Ms. DeCurtis drawing difficult designs for us to tackle! Getting started in paper cutting is easy. All you need is a nice pattern and a pair of scissors.

The ancient art of paper cutting orignated in China. The Chinese word for paper cutting is 剪纸 jian3 zhi3. 剪 jian3 means scissors or to cut with scissors and 纸 zhi3 means paper. To this very day Chinese people are very fond of decorating their doors, windows, and classrooms with lovely, original paper cuts. The artist uses red paper to create the design and then mounts it on a white background to display and enjoy. And everybody knows the Chinese invented paper! They certainly found a lovely use of their invention!

While paper cutting is widely attributed to the Chinese culture, many cultures around the world have beautiful forms of this charming art. Some countries are know for the use of vivid colors (Mexico and Poland) or folding the paper before cutting (Japanese kirigami), you may even find watercolor splashed in a paper cut. Take a look at Angie Pickman's modern American paper cuts at Her work will dazzle and inspire you!

Paper cuts can come in all sizes and shapes and you can make one, too. Try making a bookmark, a wall hanging, a greeting card, or even an invitation to tea. The possibilities are endless. Hey! Maybe Ms. DeCurtis would give Keiki Chinese artistic license to publish one of her designs for you to print and cut at home. Don't forget to show me your finished product! student photos today. Stand by, the pictures will be ready soon.

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