Rob Ryan: Listen to the World Exhibition ~ Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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On Saturday I took a trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park with some of my friends to see an exhibition by artist Rob Ryan.

Rob Ryan is famous for his quirky and beautiful papercuts and having never seen any of his work in real life before, I was keen to check out the exhibition while it was in Yorkshire.

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The sculpture park (which is just south of Wakefield) is well worth a visit on its own too. It covers a huge area and is filled with work by Henry Moore and has some gorgeous walks and views across the moors.

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One of the things I love the most about Rob Ryan’s papercuts is the words he uses and the unique font he has developed in his work. Quite often when we read what was written in the papercuts, we couldn’t help but going ‘Aw’ as so many have really lovely sentiments.

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The Rob Ryan: Listen to the World exhibition is upstairs in the main centre at YSP but I’ve got to admit it was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. Most of the papercuts are displayed in a long, thin corridor, which made it a bit tricky to look at them for any length of time as there was always someone trying to squeeze past!

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There wasn’t quite s many papercuts as I had expected to see either, although I guess that’s because each one takes so long to do! Saying that, some of the works on display were screen prints rather than original papercuts and all were available to buy. Prices ranged from £120 for an unframed signed and numbered print to an eye-watering £20,400 for There is Only Time. Anyone want to buy me a present? Anyone?

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My favourite original papercut on display was this one:

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There were also some lovely things to buy in the shop afterwards. I bought a card which I think I might frame.

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If you’re a Rob Ryan fan then this exhibition is worth a visit but I would advise you to try and team it with a nice day and a picnic so you can make the most of Yorkshire Sculpture Park while you’re there. There are quite a lot of sheep knocking around in case that kind of thing freaks you out, but they all seemed to keep themselves to themselves and didn’t appear to be on the hunt for quiche.

Are you a fan of Rob Ryan? If so then this exhibition is on until November 1 2015.

Lots of papercutting love,

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{DIY} Fallen Leaves Picture

DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

I’ve always been a bit obsessed by the paint colour cards you get in DIY stores and I’ve always wanted to think of a creative way to make something with them. Wayne and I were in our local B&Q the other day on the hunt for paint samples to give the feature wall in our bedroom a new look and I took the chance to snaffle a pocketful of orange and coral shades.

(Side note: I still think that the job of coming up with names for lots of pretty paint shades is one of the best in the world – along with choosing road names – and for years I seriously wanted to do that as a career. What a job!)

DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

Anyway, I had a few vague ideas floating round in my head about what I could do with the colour cards but I finally had the flash of inspiration I was looking for when suffering from a bout of insomnia at five in the morning. Who says nothing good happens after 2am anyway?

Here’s how to make this pretty and bright Fallen Leaves picture which will add a seasonal splash of colour to your home!

What you need:

DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

  • Paint colour cards
  • A craft knife
  • A self-healing mat
  • A pencil
  • Glue dots/glue
  • A picture frame
  • A piece of white/cream paper

How to make it:

  1. Collect your colour cards and on the back draw a selection of leaf shapes. Try to mix them up for an interesting look.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up CraftsDIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  2. Once you’re happy with your pictures, cut out the leaves using the craft knife. You can add texture and interest by cutting out the stems or making the edges a bit jaggy. TOP TIP: Cut out the stems first and if you’re cutting a jagged edge cut the card to the point. Also, it’s easier if you turn the card as you work so you’re not cutting at a funny angle!
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  3. Stick the paper to the back of the mount using wash tape.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  4. Place your leaves onto the background paper and decide on your layout.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  5. When you’ve decided what you’d like to go where, stick the leaves in place using glue or a glue dot.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  6. Set the picture aside to dry before framing it and hanging it on your wall!
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

I hope you like this bright and colourful DIY. I love autumn but I think this would look great all year round.

Lots of fallen leaves love,

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Meet Paper Panda: Exclusive Interview

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Following on from the success of our Papercutting for Beginners post, I have spoken with the very talented Louise Firchau, aka the Cotswolds-based artist better known as Paper Panda, to find out just what makes her tick.

I’m sure you will agree that Paper Panda’s whimsical woodland-inspired papercuts and the breathtaking Alice in Wonderland series show the art of papercutting at its finest. There is also a beautiful range of typography-driven pieces, each one as delicate and stunning in equal measure.

Paper Panda - Bunny and Bird

We're All Mad Here

But just how did Louise hone her skills and develop the Paper Panda brand in a few short years, after coming up with her business’ name in a 10 minute brainstorming session four years ago? I caught up with her to find out her inspirations, how she got started and just how beginners can improve their papercutting skills.

Hi Louise, or should I say Panda?! Thanks for talking to me, I really appreciate your time. First things first, I would love to know what first attracted you to papercutting and how did you learn the craft?

Louise: Hello! I have always been a huge geeky fan of typography. I saw a papercut on Etsy that really showed the font off beautifully and I fell in love. I couldn’t afford to buy one so I made my own using Elbow lyrics. I ordered a knife from eBay that just so happened to be the right one straight away and I still use it now (a Swann Morton if you’re wondering). I started cutting on an old box file using recycled paper on the arm of the sofa. It was all very hit and miss.  It took me a whole year to source black paper that was white on the reverse (so you can see the design). It was infuriating, haha!

So were you pretty good straight away and did you create your own designs in those early days?

Louise: I was a bit rubbish, really, for a long time design-wise as I wasn’t confident enough to just draw my designs and used chopped up vector graphics instead for swirls and decoration. Instead of kicking myself, I like to see that time as honing my knife skills before I picked up a pencil.

Workspace of a Panda

But looking at the beautiful pieces of art you create I would say that’s very much time well spent! So back to the present day, who or what inspires your paper cuts and which papercutting artists do you admire?

Louise: I get a lot of ideas from old stories, classic books and my surroundings, material patterns, prints…anything really. My favourite papercutter is Julene Harrison. Her designs are beautiful.

How would you suggest is the best way for beginners to start papercutting? (apart from your excellent introduction kits!)

Louise: Haha, buy the kit or just wing it! It did take me a long time to source the right materials – especially the paper – but at the end of the day pick up a pencil, draw a design and cut it out with a craft knife and see how you get on.

Alice in Wonderland

 

What key pieces of advice would you give to crafters who are keen to start paper cutting?

Louise: A lot of crafters are moving into papercutting. I said years ago it would be the new sock monkeys! I think it’s great that it’s something that everyone can do, there are so many different styles and ways to create with paper that there’s room for everyone.

How long does it take for you to create a design and turn it into a finished piece?

Louise: Wow, um, anything from half an hour to three days. Some of the designs take months to put together, like the houses and Pratchett characters. The new Wonderland design took six months to develop.

Wonderland - Paper Panda

What is the favourite piece you have done?

Louise: The new Wonderland piece, hands down. I just love it. It hasn’t sold yet, either, so I’m kinda looking forward to it coming back to me from the art gallery so I can hang it here :)
(Wonderland is available to buy here).

I know from looking at your site that you both hand draw some of your designs but also use digital software. Which software do you use for your designs and what would you suggest is the best method for beginners who are keen to try their own designs?

Louise: I use Corel Draw to add some fonts and anything with a circle, for example. I print it out then draw the decoration afterwards. Beginners can get a taste of digital software by downloading Inkscape free online.

Tiny Love Birds

Rainbow

How long were you doing paper cuts for before you realised it could be a successful business? How did you go about launching Paper Panda?

Louise: I intented Paper Panda to be just a hobby, a way of making a few extra pennies for Christmas. I guess I knew it was taking off when I had to sell my gift shop as I didn’t have time to run it anymore, I was just busy cutting morning, noon and night. That was about a year after starting, but it was never hugely profitable, more a labour of love. It really took off with a bang when I started drawing my designs. For someone that had convinced herself she was rubbish at drawing this was a huge boost for me – much needed, too! I’d put away my pencil in the 90’s after art school thinking I’d never pick it up again…who knew?

For more information on Paper Panda and her beautiful papercuts, visit:

Wise words from the craftiest of all Pandas. So have you been inspired to give papercutting a try? I would love to see your papercuts and I’m sure Louise would do too!

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Papercutting for Beginners

Cut out hedgehog - Beak Up Crafts

I’ve been a big fan of papercutting for a long time. I love the delicate and intricate nature of this art form and how stunning a finished papercut can be. My favourite artists are without doubt Rob Ryan, who specialises in whimsical figures paired with sentimental and sometimes humorous pieces of writing, and Paper Panda, whose teeny tiny woodland papercuts are cute and yet stunning in equal measure.

Rob Ryan:

Rob Ryan - I Can't Forget

 

Paper Panda:

Paper Panda

The only thing is, getting into paper cutting seems to be so hard: Where do you start? How do you learn the techniques? All of the paper cuts look so DIFFICULT. I wanted to give it a try, but I will admit, I was a bit scared to do so.

That was until I found Paper Panda’s Introduction to Papercutting DIY Pack. I bought it way before I started this site and I’ve got to say, now I’ve finally opened it and wielded my paper knife, I’m annoyed that I didn’t try it sooner because it makes learning how to cut paper a joy. (As long as you don’t wield your knife too wildly and cut yourself!).

I’ve got to say too, that cutting paper is properly addictive. Well, I think so, anyway!

Included in the pack is a self-heal cutting mat, a super sharp cutting blade, a brilliant “how to” guide to paper cutting and a practice sheet where you learn to cut straight edges, curves, text, stars and even a cute hedgehog to help you master the art. When you’ve got the basics under your belt, there are also some Paper Panda designs for you to have a go at.

Practice sheet in progress

I won’t lie – at first, cutting a straight line is a pretty wonky experience, and getting used to holding the blade (firm but not too tight) and learning how to turn your work lots to get the best cut – it all takes some getting used to. But that’s why the practice sheet is so good, as you get to try it on some real paper cuts over and over again.

Stars - look great but are quite simple

Papercutting in action

Please do!

It's addictive!

I’m yet to move on to the designs included in the pack which can be framed, but I’m going to tackle them in the next few days – have a look at my Instagram feed as I will be posting them on there.

What I would say, though, is that if you have ever wanted to have a try at paper cutting but have stopped yourself as it seems to intricate or difficult, then give it a go. I think you will be surprised as to how much you enjoy it and how quickly you can pick up the basic skills. After that, the sky is the limit!

I would love to see your paper cuts and hear from you if you are going to give it a try. Don’t be shy – please get in touch!

Oh and if you’re keen to try out papercutting then head here, as I’ve got a free downloadable template and a DIY to make a pretty papercut ‘Love’ card, perfect for Valentine’s Day (or just because).

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