Meet the Maker: Kyleigh’s Papercuts

by | 1 Nov, 2019 | Inspiration

This month we’re delighted to focus our Meet the Maker spotlight on Kyleigh of Kyleigh’s Papercuts. Originally from a graphic design background, Kyleigh uses her expert eye for design to create beautifully intricate works of art through the craft of papercutting. 

From how she began on her papercutting journey to the workshops she now leads to groups of up to 100 (wowza!), learn more about Kyleigh and her craft…

Where did it all begin for Kyleigh’s Papercuts?

I recently discovered a load of my old school books and diaries from the 80s/90s which I noticed are COVERED inside and out with intricate images cut from magazines with a scalpel, so I guess my love for cutting paper has always been with me! But officially it started back in 2010. I was a full time graphic designer and decided to design a paper cut for my husband based around the lyrics to my first dance. 

I had been inspired by a design blog where I’d read an interview with Julene Harrison – a paper cutter based in America. I guess it must have reignited the scalpel-wielding teenager in me and I just HAD to do it. 

I loved the design process, and loved cutting it out even more! It really was a eureka moment for me – I had been put down to a three-day working week (remember the ‘credit crunch’?!) and had embarked on freelancing for two days a week but after making that first papercut I just KNEW this is what I was going to do. February next year it will mark 10 years since I cut that initial papercut – and my love is still there as strong as ever!

What’s the process of papercutting?

Like anything it starts with an idea – a visual in my minds eye. I scribble into my notebooks – they’re filled with words, snippets of conversations and song lyrics and doodles. Then I head to Adobe Illustrator (my background as a professional designer means I live, sleep, breathe and eat Adobe having used the creative suite of programs for *cough cough* 20 plus years…). 

I always start with a black page the same size as the frame aperture I am working on, so I can make sure it will fit. Then I work my design magic making the template – a mixture of typography and digital drawing with the bezier curves. When it’s finished I print it out, grab a cuppa and set about cutting it out with my trusty scalpels. 

I’m self-taught so there’s a lot of tips and techniques I’ve honed over the years. I use both a fixed blade scalpel (Swann-Moreton 3 handle with a 10A blade, fact fans) and a Fiskars swivel scalpel which is great for tiny details and curves. Depending on if I’ve designed the papercut in the positive or negative, the way I approach cutting it can vary – but essentially, in a nutshell, start at the top and work down, and if you go wrong – well, it’s only a bit of paper! Start again!

Do you have a favourite type of papercutting design?

As a designer, you know I’m going to say that my favourite is ALWAYS the last thing I’ve designed! But I guess I will always have a soft spot for my papercut family trees – I designed my first family tree from a seed (excuse the pun) of an idea I had in 2011, I uploaded it to notonthehighstreet straight away and they went wild! I was the only papercut artist on notonthehighstreet at the time, and there wasn’t any other family trees like it available so I guess it was a zeitgeist moment – if it wasn’t for the popularity of them I wouldn’t have made the move to do paper cutting full time.

 

What’s been your favourite creation to date?

My most favourite thing ever is teaching my papercutting workshops. The biggest of which was at Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Bowood House last year – 100 per workshop, three workshops over three days! I am so chuffed to say each one of my workshops was sold out so I taught near on 700 people over the course of two weekends which was a first for me! 

I continue to run workshops regularly at my little riverside studio – a more manageable 11 people maximum (with no need for a radio microphone!). So in answer to your question, seeing the joy and happiness they all get from creating something they’re proud of HAS to be my proudest creation to date.

 

How do you make your creations unique from others?

I design all the time, I like to think I am continually evolving design-wise; this is the product of my long professional background in graphic design. But I also like to think I’ve developed my own style – it is bold and typographical, coming from the graphics nerd in me. I have always been inspired by the words themselves, the shape of a typeform or serif, plus old posters, nostalgia, popular culture and humour play a big part in some of my designs. 

I think the trick is to remember the old adage: “To Thine Own Self Be True” – to continue to evolve yet to stay true to my design style that has established over the years.

 

Any exciting plans for the future?

Following on from my love of teaching my workshops, I have some exciting plans afoot for next year regarding them. It’s all about reaching a larger audience… ones that potentially can’t come along to my south of England studio – so there’s a clue! 

I also continue to run my popular craft fair Handmade Wimborne and I would dearly love to try and take the concept and ethos of Handmade Wimborne into other towns around the UK. So watch this space!  

Huge thank you to Kyleigh for sharing her story with us; we’re feeling super inspired to pick up a scalpel and start right away! To find out more about Kyleigh’s work and to keep up to date with her workshop schedule, visit her on Instagram at @kyleighspapercut or head to her website www.kyleighspapercuts.co.uk.

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