How Yehudit Shadur Makes a Paper-Cut
By Yehudit Shadur
My paper-cuts are based on a simple technique familiar to all children: cutting a folded piece of paper to produce a symmetrical design once the sheet is opened. (This is also the way most of the old, traditional Jewish paper-cuts were made.)
Lateral symmetry is common in folk art. The creation of mirror images on either side of a real or imaginary vertical line produces both a satisfying balance and a disciplined form into which a myriad of lines and shapes can be incorporated.
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I start a new paper-cut by drawing on a plain sheet of paper (above) the design that will repeat on both halves of the final paper-cut. To see what the total design will look like, I hold the half that I have drawn up to a mirror at a 90°angle. I then transfer this design onto one-half of a folded sheet of paper. I use a variety of papers, ranging from fine quality French charcoal paper to common wrapping paper. Working on a board and a wad of newspaper, I cut the design with a small, sharp knife (below). Just as a painting is affected by the manner in which an artist applies pen or brush to it, so too does the hand manipulating the knife determine the style and individual character of a paper-cut.
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