Project: Paper Cutting

I’ve been doing a lot of graphic design work lately, both freelance and as coursework. But once in a while I still manage to steal some time for a personal project. I felt this one was worthy of a quick share.

When the writer David Rakoff passed away last month (causing me to twitter-curse cancer for the zillionth time), I came across this beautiful tumblr of all the gifts he’d given his close friends on special occasions — birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, etc. Among the images I found some stunning paper cuttings, usually featuring drawings of koi framed with elegant hand lettering, presented to parents upon the births of their children. I thought it was such a sweet commemorative gesture, I couldn’t wait to inflict it on my own friends.

And wouldn’t you know it, I happened to have a pregnant friend! The first soon-to-be-mom of my childhood crew! And her baby shower was fast approaching!

Not knowing the kiddo’s name or birth date, I opted to do a test run of the paper cutting idea and present my friend with a mini coupon done in the style I’d use for the real deal. I mocked up a basic design digitally and then transferred the sketch to — wait, I don’t have any black paper lying around the house somewhere? Really? Anywhere? No?


Okay, fine. How about this:

DIY crisis averted.

I also thought this would be a fun project to time lapse, so I propped my iPhone up with a stand made of clay and got to work:

[flickr video=7976498218 secret=b9e2466c3f w=640 h=360]

Yeah. Oops. Clay = malleable.

But while I totally botched the video, I managed not to destroy the thing that mattered:

I think the key to this technique is to be very, very precise about your pencil lines. For example, although I outlined each letter and design element distinctly, before I started cutting (read: ruining everything) I went back in with an eraser and clearly indicated the places where objects connected. I think this helped me avoid errant (and potentially disastrous) cuts. That and taking frequent breaks for hand cramping. And also talking to myself. I’m sure my neighbors find the girl on the other side of the wall who verbally admonishes herself not to screw this up charming, right?

Ta-da! One hand-cut coupon, and also one totally freehand giraffe onesie.

…do people come that small? Seriously?


I’ve got some things to learn about babies. Can’t wait to meet your little one, M & D!