Friday, August 19, 2011

Making a Kirigami Mandala

I've made a new papercutting and I thought you would like to see the process.  This is a combination cut (multi-fold forms the outer edge and a bifold in the center.)

To begin, I first took a large square of lightweight paper, folded it diagonally, then diagonally again, and then once more.  Thus I was cutting through eight pieces of paper. (That is why you can't use tiny, delicate scissors for this kind of kirigami. You need tools substantial enough to cut through several layers.)

First I determined the dimensions of the edge design and made some cuts to guide me.

Next, I began cutting out a floral design.  If the client wanted particular motifs in the papercut, I might add them at this stage. This is how it looks as I am cutting:

And here it is partially opened:

Next, I created the center to make it a "combination cut." That means that the outer edge exhibits radial symmetry, each motif repeating four times, while the inner part is a bifold.   So, instead of folding it back up all the way, I will leave it folded only once so that the design in the center will be a bifold, or mirror image.

Since this is a papercut for a gardener, I wanted to have leaves, flowers, and fruit trees in it.  First, I cut the basic shapes out, leaving connections to the outer edge.

I cut the details out of the tree . . .

And then began cutting a basic human shape.  I always make the woman first, as she is depicted with more flesh and hair.

Then I opened the whole piece up and cut off some hair on one of the figures to make the male.  With an x-acto knife I cut details to distinguish their outfits and... Voila!