First Anniversaries

Chloe and I have been married for a year now!

Since paper is the traditional first year gift, I decided to make a cut paper piece of art that referenced our wedding, and the life we have now.

Our animals are a big part of that life, so it features all three of them. Our wedding invitations featured the silhouettes above, so I remade them.

Click more to see how I put everything together.

This piece is heavily influenced by Helen Musselwhite, an amazing artist. I started out by printing out my favorite piece by her, and deconstructed how many layers she used, and how the animals were constructed.

Then, straight to the sketchbook. The best part about that piece are the trees, so I knew that I would have to figure out how to draw them. I also made a rough sketch where I wanted to have everything. This larger, more detailed sketch was the result of several thumbnail sketches.

After some practice drawing the trees, I found a technique that worked, and drew them out on the back of the actual paper I was going to cut.

You can see here that I put down a cutting board first, a piece of sacrificial paper on top of that (to keep the cut paper clean), and then the final piece. With everything taped down, it was time to start cutting.

The important part of cutting out these was to make sure the paper didn’t drag along with the blade when I got to the smaller elements, like the tips of the branches. When I got to the tip of the branch, I would leave a tiny bit of paper still attached from the tip to the rest. This anchored the piece down and prevented it from crinkling up. Removing the final piece from the rest of the paper was very easy, I just took my time and went along with the blade to make sure I cut all the little tabs I left to anchor the final piece.

I repeated this process with each layer.

I just drew out each animal on the back of the paper I needed to cut.

To get the paper different colors, I simply printed out the color (sampled from the example piece) in big blocks on my printer. This worked well with the lighter colors, but when I cut out the darker colors, the cut edges stood out a bit too much, and some of the paper ripped on the front once my exacto got dull. I traced around the edges with a sharpie and a micron pen, depending on how much the white stood out.

Here’s all the layers.

and here’s all the scrap that was left over!

For each layer to have a little bit of depth, I needed to make little stand-offs from matte board. I used spray glue on each piece front and back, then placed those stand-offs on the back of the layer. I worked from the front layer to the back layer; that way, if I were to accidentally drip glue or drop a piece where I didn’t want a piece, I wouldn’t have to re-cut an entire layer!

Here’s a better view of the stand-offs on the back of the first layer. I cut them to match the design so if someone looked closer to see what was holding it together (something I do very often) it would look like it belonged.

Here’s the finished piece before I mounted it to the background. While not as detailed as Miss Musslewhite’s pieces, I feel like it’s pretty good for my first try! I originally had more visible from each layer outside of the trees, but I didn’t like the way it looked, so I carefully trimmed each layer so they were hidden when viewing the piece from the front.

Here’s some more shots of the final piece:



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