Guest Author - Michele G. Desmoulins
Those of you who enjoy looking at and creating origami pieces, will appreciate Chinese paper cutting. The process of making a paper piece like this, is precise and delicate. The result is a beautiful and intricate paper design; very much like origami.
Paper cutting as an art form has been around as long as the invention of paper. The Chinese were the first to invent the modern paper making process. In fact, our current day, manufacturing process of making paper, is derived from the original Chinese method.
In the ancient past, Chinese paper cutting was a royal and noble art form. Paper cutting artists were employed by wealthy Chinese monarchs to decorated doors and windows. This art form soon became popular in festivals and celebrations as part the decorations for the event.
For many centuries, it was a mostly female activity that was relegated to the rural areas of the country. Chinese girls were required to learn the art and a bride's worth was said to depend upon her skill at paper cutting.
Several centuries later and it is mostly men who perform paper cutting and are usually paid very well for it. They are usually employed to work in workshops with other male paper cutting artists.
At one time, paper cuttings were used as patterns for embroidery and lacquer work. Nowadays, they are used chiefly for decoration on walls, windows, doors, pillars, mirrors, lamps or lanterns.
They are used on gift boxes as well and even as gifts themselves. In Chinese culture, it is said that a paper cutting mounted in the entryway of a home, brings the dwellers good luck.
There are basically two methods of creating paper cuttings; by using scissors or by using a sharp knife. With the scissor method, several pieces of paper (a maximum of 8) are laid on top of each other and held together by several clips. The design is then cut with very sharp and pointed scissors.
Knife cuttings are created by placing the layers of paper on a foundation. Such as a self healing cutting board or some styro-foam. The artist then cuts into the paper with a sharp knife, like an exacto knife, while following a pattern or even free hand.
Paper cutting has evolved over the centuries and many cultures have adopted it. Examples of cultures who have embraced this art form are, the Filipino and Mexican cultures.
For Christmas celebrations and other festivals, artisans in Mexico and the Philippines, will make lanterns and paper mache pinatas decorated with paper cutting banners. These are traditionally very bright and colorful.
You can find a lot of paper cutting art in the Chinatown areas of your city. There are many stores online too, where you can order them from. Try Ebay or ChineseArtStore.com for some great paper cutting art forms.