In 1980, at an in-service staff meeting of the Framingham, Public School art department, we gathered to discuss gross and fine motor control. We had decided to concentrate on cutting skills. One teacher brought a slim green volume of paper cuts, in the Polish style. It outlined all the different forms of cuts that have been traditionally done in Poland. They are cut with hand-forged sheep shears. Each area of Poland produces a unique design.
Although we know that paper cuts were done over 3000 years ago in China, with knives and then bronze scissors, very like the tool I use for my cuts, my present work stems from that 1980 in-service meeting. My students and I began to make paper cuts of all kinds: multi-colored, layered flowers and birds, tree of life forms, and snowflakes! My goodness, did we make snowflakes! Other people, seeing some snowflakes that I made with cats and horses, began to order
paper cuts for presents.
My students and I then studied a wider range of paper cuts. We discovered that paper cuts are done all around the world, on most continents; anywhere paper is a common material. Knives, punches, and scissors are used. Many cuts tell stories and some are purely decorative. With this “simple” craft my students traveled the world and then they produced wonderfully delightful work.
My own work has been shown in galleries around this country, and in an International Invitational Paper cut Exhibition at The Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City. Most recently, juried into in a traveling show organized by the Fuller Craft Museum, called Pulp Function, a juried show at the Post Road Art Center in Marlborough, MA, and in The Made In Fort Point Artists’ Store, in Boston. A show of my work will be hung in the Kitchen on the Common, restaurant in Belmont, MA this summer.
My designs are now used for golden ornaments, note cards,
silk screen prints and shirt designs.
Each paper cut is made to its owner’s wishes; each is unique, telling the stories of one person or the family ordering it.
No two are alike.
Usually there is a six month lead time for a cut.
LESLIE A. MILLER - PAPERCUTS