The inspiration for Chao Zou‘s paper craft project Forest Smell is the aroma. “My wife sprayed herself with my perfume,” he explains, “who with the [smell] of the forest for all day…” Motif of leaves were his starting point, and Chao layered a variety of plants within the silhouette of a woman. Alone, it’s a compelling image that has an exquisite shadow box effect. Once you know the short backstory, however, it’s a unique love letter.
If you’re still feeling down about recent events (I know I am), Grace Chin offers a beautiful pick-me-up with her empowering floral wreaths. Combining paper craft with text, she creates delicate faux flowers and arranges them onto a circular form. In the middle of it, she places cut-paper letters phrases like “All bodies are good bodies” and “Be brave.”
My work is inextricably tied to my passion for intersectional feminism and fighting negative forces— both political and personal—with words. I sincerely believe in the power of internalizing and imbibing positive messages. In particular, I’m in search of pithy, compelling statements that are meant to occupy primarily domestic spaces and serve as daily reminders.
Compositionally, I take influence from the Dutch tradition of pronkstilleven (decadent still life painting), as well as outsider and American folk art. In positioning myself firmly between craft and art traditions, I hope to do what many women artists and artisans did before me: create beautiful everyday objects that also serve some usefulness beyond their aesthetic value.
Grace sells her work (including these wreaths!) through her online shop.
Cameron Garland crafts tiny terrariums you can hold in the palm of your hand. The intricately detailed cut-paper creations showcase minuscule succulents thriving in golden geometric planters that I wish I owned. A combination of collage and drawing, they resemble the real thing—a big trend in decor—sans the mess. Sounds good to me!
Creating typography, in general, is challenging, but it’s even more so when done by hand. Lavanya Naidoo has excelled at producing clean, bold text, and she did it entirely out of paper. Her beautiful piece A Thorn in My Side features black block type paired with sculpted and quilled florals. The visual heaviness of the white petals—that look incredibly realistic—offsets the pink lines to create balance that excites the eye. This piece is even better when viewed from the side because you see all of the great three dimensional details.
Lavanya sells this image as a print through her online shop.
This past spring, I marveled over illustrator Kim Sielbeck‘s tiny paper cacti with their bold colors and charming patterned pots. So, when I was in the midst of planning Inside / Outside at Flower Pepper Gallery, I knew her work would be perfect for it. I was so happy that Kim agreed and created a host of new plants—some large and some small—just for the show.
The pieces seen here are now available through Flower Pepper Gallery’s website. If you’ve been thinking about buying her work—do it! The cacti are even more delightful in person. And if you’re someone with a brown thumb, you still reap the benefits of some green without the fear of them wilting.
I’ve never been to It’s a Small World in Disneyland, but I’ve always admired Mary Blair’s version that features stylized buildings constructed out of simple, colorful shapes. It’s this aesthetic that instantly drew me to the cut-paper works of Ultralazer, a collaborative project from two France-based makers named Maxence and Pauline.
Together, Maxence and Pauline create playful scenes that you can hold in the palm of your hand. I’m partial to their castles, but nature scenes are common, too. Regardless of the landscape, each is crafted with a stunning attention to detail.
Plants! Shrimp! Kabobs! Everything is made better with paper, don’t you think? Los Mercados de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria or translated, Markets Las Palmas features a bevy of delicious foods and beautiful blooms. They have a exquisite sense of craftsmanship and color, made even more compelling with eye-catching arrangements.
These compositions were created for an advertising campaign collaboration between Club de Esgrima, María Laura Benavente, and Jorge León.
One craft trend I can’t get enough of is paper plants. I recently marveled at Kim Sielbeck’s delightful papier-mache cacti, and I’ve also pinned many a plant tutorials on my Pinterest. So when Corrie Beth Hogg shared with me her DIY potted paper plants, I was really excited. Like Kim’s colorful pieces, Corrie paints on the texture of leaves and bundles them together like bushy, healthy plants.
If you have a brown thumb, you can make these plants too! The instructions are available on Corrie’s website, The Apple of My DIY. In fact, they’re probably better than the real thing—your cat won’t try and eat them, forcing you to put all of your succulents on a high shelf. (Le sigh.)
Illustrator Malin Koort creates charming characters out of cut paper. Her work features elements of 2D and 3D design—most notably, she’ll fold paper and casts its shadows onto the composition. This produces the illusion that they’re really sitting. Surface patterns—on clothing, in hair, etc—are otherwise drawn onto the figures. Coupled with bright colors, these two approaches give her work a fresh and playful feel with the best of both flat and tactile worlds.