24 Feb The Magic of Paper Cutting with Ingrid Lavoie
The intricate paper cuts of Ingrid Lavoie draw you into a fantastic world of whimsy, nature, and storytelling. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) who fell in love with papercutting while on vacations visiting family in Denmark. Self-taught, she found her rhythm and style by using an X-Acto knife to “draw” images, instead of scissors. She enjoys unfolding a new work to reveal the paper’s transformation, and has been teaching others this delightful art form for several years. Enjoy our interview!
CP: How did you get your start with paper cutting?
IL: I was on vacation in Denmark visiting my Aunt and noticed them in homes and for sale. I was a student at the time and couldn’t afford to buy as many as I’d like, so I tried to cut my own.
CP: What do you like about this unique medium?
IL: I really enjoy the act of cutting the paper. The hardest part of making my art is the design and drawing. Once I have those factors realized the cutting part is very relaxing. In high school, I loved taking 3-D and cutting the paper is like sculpting. What are you taking away from the sheet, what is left behind and does that read.
CP: Where did you grow up?
IL: I grew up in Connecticut and live in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union!
CP: How does living in Rhode Island influence your work?
IL: We are also know as the Ocean State, so those motifs find their way into my work.
CP: Do you have a favorite motif?
IL: Any thing that has either fur or feathers!!!
CP: What or who inspires you?
IL: Other paper artists, such as Mr. Rob Ryan, old illustrations and beautiful images that come on my Pinterest feed.
CP: You have so many beautiful and intricate pieces!
IL: Well, thank you! My first cuttings weren’t so detailed.
CP: Tell me about a favorite project.
IL: This fall I made my largest cutting to date. It measures over 6ft tall! I used tyvek for the first time and it was a challenge. It celebrates Hans Christian Andersen’s birthplace, Odense Denmark. In it are lots of images and a hidden pair of scissors. He was a paper cutter himself and would entertain folks at parties by telling a story as he cut and then revealing an illustration at the end. Sort of a parlor trick. I’m bringing this cutting with me, to the Folk School, as it fits in so well with the Scandinavian theme!
CP: Your class is during Scandinavian Heritage Week. Is paper cutting specific to Scandinavia, or is paper cutting a medium you would find traditionally across the globe?
IL: The act of paper cutting is a tradition you can find in nearly every culture around the world. In Scandinavia, they typically hang cuttings in their windows to celebrate the light during long dark winters.
CP: How old is the art of paper cutting?
IL: Thousands of years old, once paper was invented in China, it wasn’t long before people started cutting it.
CP: Why did people traditionally make paper cuts?
IL: I think it’s because most people have access to it. You don’t need fancy tools, chemicals or a studio to do it. Swiss shepherds would use their sheep sheering scissors to cut images for their loved ones.
CP: Do you need to be skilled at drawing to be good at paper cutting?
IL: It can be a big help, but not a necessity. It also depends on how realistic you want you images to be. But like anything, it requires practice and patience.
CP: I’m always curious about how traditional folk arts fit into a contemporary art school degree program. Was it readily acceptable to use paper cutting as an illustration medium when you pursued your BFA at RISD?
IL: No, I did paper cutting more for gifts and decorations when I was in college. I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator in college and my medium then was pastels. I still want to be a children’s book illustrator and would love to create one in paper cutting.
CP: What is your 2017 winter obsession?
IL: Baking cakes and cinnamon buns, you can see on my blog. If I’m not creating art, I’m baking!
CP: What would be your dream commission?
IL: Window cuttings for a fabulous New York City department store’s Christmas display.
CP: Tell me about your upcoming class, Introduction to Paper Cutting.
IL: It is my hope that my students enjoy the class and leave with a piece of art that will become an heirloom to their families.
CP: Where can people find your work?
IL: They can visit my website and my Etsy shop.
CP: Are paper cuts a serious side effect of paper cuts? ;-p
IL: No, I usually cut myself handling the glass when I’m framing. You can get a crick in your neck if you don’t stretch now and again!
To see more of Ingrid’s work and to learn more about her craft, visit ingridlavoiepapercutting.com