When I do papercuts I usually do portraits but for several years I've been wanting to create a papercut in a Mexican style. So this Summer I finally sat down and did it. The theme is Dia de los Muertos. In the following pictures I show the progress of the cutting over several weeks from sketching to the final framed piece. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask!
Thumbnail of the final product.
1. I started by sketching out a Mexican dancer in a flowing dress. I gave her a beautiful skull and flower! I'm not the best artist but I try.
2. I added a grid to the background of the subject which is typical in Mexican papercutting.
3. I added flowers and a tail to the border. If you notice every pencil mark is connected. When making traditional papercuts the entire work is made of one single connected piece of paper. So you'll notice there are no "islands". Everything is connected by bridges.
4. I then take a copy of the finished sketch and place an 8.5x11 piece of translucent red paper on top - taping the edges together. I place these on a cutting mat and I use an exacto knife to remove every piece of "white" paper - leaving all the black parts uncut and connected. I start with the smallest, most detailed, and most difficult portions when I start my cuttings. The paper still has a sturdy feel to it when you start so you are less likely to tear or rip something by accident. I felt the skull and dress would be a good place to start and then work my way out.
5. I finished the dress and then I move on to the grid.
6. The grid is finished and now I move on to the flowers and tail.
7. Here is the finished cutting! After I cut the flowers and tail I felt like it looked too "kiddy" so I went back and cut out each individual petal and added some notches to the tail. I was hoping this would give it more texture. The petals were actually the most time consuming and tedious part of the cutting. I then carefully removed the tape and red paper and transferred it to a fresh piece of white cardstock.
8. Here is the cutting framed. Aaaand done!