CRAFT PROFILE: Paper Crafts

In the next installment of UK Handmade's craft profile series Verity Warne of Made by Loulabelle takes a look at papercrafts... 

'Deck the Halls with garlands of paper…..'. This month’s festive-inspired craft profile takes a broad look at some of the paper crafts which UK artists are using to help make our Christmas merrier – we hope you feel inspired!

History
Many of the traditions and symbols that we associate with Christmas pre-date Christianity: Holly and Mistletoe were used in pagan celebrations of the winter solstice and the Yuletide log stems from the Viking mid winter festival of Yule. Many ancient cultures revered evergreen trees, which stayed green in the winter while other trees were bare. During the middle ages, evergreen trees were hung with apples to represent the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. The first recorded references to indoor Christmas trees date back to 16th century Latvia and Germany. It is around this time that Christmas markets began to sell decorations – originally perishables such as fruit, nuts and sweets, or paper flowers in white or red to symbolise Innocence and Knowledge. Soon, other decorations such as candles, figures moulded from wax and tinsel made from shreds of real silver also became available. The tradition of the Christmas tree was first brought to England by the German Hanovers, the Georgian Royal family, and was popularised by the fashionable Victoria and Albert in the mid 18th Century.

Christmas offers an opportunity for all crafters to demonstrate their skill, but the flexibility and variety of paper-based crafts are particularly well suited to seasonal purposes - from the simplicity of a paper-chain to the intricacies of an origami tree pendant. Just don’t fold your paper wreath while roasting chestnuts on the open fire!

The Experts
Louise Annable’s stunning pendants, garlands and wreaths are rolled and folded from discarded paper. Lou’s work is a great example of how the right hands can transform something unwanted into something elegant. 'Bookity began as a way for me to recycle books that no one wanted - ones that suffered from unfortunate coffee stains on the pages or were just hopelessly out of date. I love combining old illustrations, cheesy book covers, aged brown paper and beautiful fabrics.'

Paper wreath - vintage encyclopeadia by Bookity

Paper garland - recycled map by Bookity

The work of mrYen - aka Johnathan - also features clean, simple lines, but uses the technique of paper cutting to create strong shapes and understated detail. Influenced by the German paper cutting technique of Scherenschnitte and taking inspiration from patterns, nature and hand drawn typography, Johnathan’s peices would work perfectly with both the most opulent or minimalist decorative style.

Hand Cut Gift Tags by mrYen

Hand Cut Paper Snowflake decoration by mrYen

Hand Cut Paper Snowflake decoration by mrYen

Amanda from Mangle Prints creates folk and Scandinavian inspired lino prints using a 1930's mangle as a relief press. Her prints are then crafted into paper cuts and collages. 'Obviously as a printmaker, paper is a vital element to my work. Using different types of paper can completely change the quality of a print, and I love experimenting with various papers and textures when printing. I also use wax with paper, which creates a completely unique effect, creating a durable material that can then be embellished and worked with a little like fabric. I'm always on the lookout for interesting paper to use, and I am a little bit of a magpie, salvaging paper here and there, from interesting book text to handmade paper, to maps and tissue paper.'

Print and wax garland by Mangle Prints

Christmas garlands by Mangle Prints

Xmas tree decorations by Mangle Prints

The Japanese technique of origami opens up another book of decorative possibilities. Although not obviously Christmas themed, this beautiful display of paper cranes, which was part of a graduate art show, perfectly demonstrates the impact that this craft can have when creatively applied.

Jemma Louise Murphy of MyLuvlee makes beautiful wearable pieces and wall art using origami and kanzashi techniques, (Kanzashi were hair ornaments worn by Geisha). Her extremely intricate pieces would be perfect for gifts or year-round decoration. 'What do i love about working with paper? Well I love how it’s fairly fragile, humble quality whilst flat can be manipulated into something quite solid, luxurious and contemporary. It’s a material taken for granted everyday by the skip full, and I now can’t welcome it enough when it drops on my door mat as junk mail, because i always have a project for it.'

Framed Origami Shadow Art by My Luvlee

Paper Pendant by My Luvlee

Methods and techniques
This article is a mere postage stamp compared to the encyclopaedia of different paper crafts available. But here are a few festive-inspired makes and tutorials that offer a taster into the very rustle-y, but very rewarding world of paper:

Featured Designers
Bookity
mrYen
Mangle Prints
My Luvlee

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