The most recent artist book to come through the doors of our Conservation Lab is a new acquisition from Jill Timm, a Washington state based book artist who specializes in miniatures. In order to preserve the exquisite condition and craftsmanship of this book, Potted Gardens, and its equally beautiful box, we will build a second enclosure (yes, a box-in-a-box) to protect the original on the shelf. The book is constructed as a modified Jacob’s Ladder binding, and each of its board leaves is decorated with an intricate paper-cut.
The art of paper-cutting (jian zhi) originated in China just a few centuries after the invention of paper itself; the earliest known paper-cuts may date back to the Bei Dynasty (420-560 AD). In Japan, this art form was blended with origami, the art of folding paper, to create kirigami, the art of folding and cutting paper. This ancient art still holds great visual appeal today, both in the East and the West, and modern materials and tools offer ever-evolving possibilities for new expression. There are even blogs devoted entirely to this subject, such as The HeArt of Papercuts and Scherenschnitte.
There are many online tutorials for beginning paper-cutters wishing to try their hand at this art form. In my own experience, a very sharp blade, good lighting, and a patient hand are indispensible. Have a link to a favorite online resource related to the art of papercutting? Please post it in our comments section!