How to Make Paper-cuts
Updated: 2005-01-24

As a traditional folk art, paper cutting is practiced widely by folk craftsmen in China. Generally their paper-cuts serve decorative purposes in many occasions -- holidays, wedding or birthday parties, assemblies, festivals, especially Chinese Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, when paper cuts in all designs and all colors are pasted on windows, doors, mirrors, walls and many other articles for ornamentation. Nowadays, usually women or girls are involved in paper cutting. It occupies a significant position in China's folk activities.

The Chinese use thin rice paper for paper-cuts because it folds and irons well, accept paints and colorings quickly and naturally, apt to cut even when several pieces fold together, and is easy for preservation. Using rice paper for paper-cuts has started at some time during 7th century in China. The popular figures that appear in paper-cuts include fish, flowers, dragons, birds, butterflies, Chinese animal signs, and various images from Chinese folktales.

Paper-cuts are produced by hand, not by machine. There are two methods of manufacture: scissor-cutting and knife-cutting. By scissor-cutting, artists put several pieces of paper together, and then cut out the motif with sharp, pointed scissors. By knife-cutting, artists put several layers of paper on a relatively soft foundation consisting of a mixture of tallow and ashes. Following a pattern, the artists hold a sharp knife vertically and cut the motif into the paper. Considerably more paper-cuts can be made in one operation with knife-cutting than with scissor-cutting.


Scissors or cutting knife
Rice paper
Needle and thread
Dye or watercolor and Brush
Kerosene lamp
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