Monday, March 28, 2011

Paper Cutting, Art and Magic

My own experience with paper cutting began in childhood, instructed by my mother in the simple charms of making linked paper dolls, joined by their outstretched hands and the edges of their wide skirts. The planning and decorating of these - each with a different face, hair and dress - passed many happy hours. From time to time I still revisit the craft, deliberately or by serendipity.

Some years ago I spent hours in waiting areas at the hospital while my youngster had appendicitis. Too fidgety to read, I delved into my handbag and found pair of sharp little nail scissors and some paper (a church bulletin as I recall). I accordion-pleated the paper into eight widths and improvised with the scissors, cutting the shape of a bird, leaving the wingtips uncut at the fold-edge. A half an hour later a cascade of little white worry-birds lay on my lap amid the confetti of irregular scraps. I picked up the larger remnants of paper and refolded them to make even smaller bird chains. By the time my son was waking up from surgery I had a small menagerie of paper creatures to show him: birds, dogs, angels, mermaids, dragons and cats-on-roofs.

Here is the dog, springing at the birds,
then unfolded to romp with friends,
and all standing up to play with their shadows.

I still have the Mermaid chain too, here posed on their heads and facing their shadows, as though diving to meet their reflections.

The other inventions have since disappeared but were the inspiration for a variety of hand-cut Christmas cards that year. I discovered that beautifully executed paper-cutting only looks simple - that hours of skillful work have gone into the pieces that take your breath away.

If you have not already seen the beautiful paper-cutting work by Elsa Mora, give yourself a treat and visit her blogs about art and miniature books. There is always something new, something fresh in its vision and execution, with links to other contemporary artists who are also exploring paper craft in extraordinary ways. But Elsita is my personal favorite.

From nature, a different kind of fine design: last week's storm (the last hurrah of winter, we hope) left behind this glittering tangle of ice - not unlike an extraordinarily fine paper cutting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Velvet Slippers in the Snow

"We will dance in velvet slippers in the snow"
from The Illustrated Fairy Gazette, Winter Edition

Velvet Slippers, from our Illustrated Fairy Gazettes, is one of the many advertisements that reveal life in Picardy Orchard, a quiet place within the Peaceful Fairy Realms. The fairy fashion designer "Stitch-In-Thyme" always has a page to show off her latest creations, in this case a matching velvet gown and cape, and slippers for dancing in the snow. A fairy can never have too many shoes -

ruby red shoes, to match her gown,

twilight blue with stars,

and lilac-hued like shadows on the snow.

And because I like to design fairy shoes, they multiply with every new edition of the Fairy Gazettes!

At midnight here, when the snow was flying and a spinning cobweb of lace was haloed in every streetlight, Mr. Tumnus with his umbrella would not haved look out of place and a ring of dancing velvet-shod fairies would have seemed entirely plausible .

Everything is waiting for spring here in Ontario - fattening buds tightly closed on the trees, the first spears of snowdrops poised and ready under the snow. For now it is still boot weather - ski boots, skates, smart boots and plain ones, and even boots for dogs that must walk along city and suburban sidewalks, to protect their paws from salt burn. A trek in the woods is much gentler on their feet and a nice diversion for us too.

(In Bronte Woods, a welcome break after two hours skiing the trails)

"Let us walk in the white snow

In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet snd slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace."
Elinor Wylie 1885-1928