I was reminded yesterday after posting my doll memories that cutting paper was also a favorite childhood pastime. My parents sometimes bought commercial paper dolls for me, but I spent hours making my own from whatever paper was available. I cut pictures out of magazines and catalogs, but my greatest pleasure was cutting shapes from plain paper and then coloring faces and clothing. My mother did a lot of writing on an old typewriter, which meant a steady supply of plain paper. I also liked the paper sacks from the grocery store, especially for cutting animals.
A few years ago I realized that many of my kindergarten students were unfamiliar with the joys of cutting paper, probably because of increased safety awareness, so I taught them to cut simple snowflakes and doll shapes. I’m not sure all of the parents appreciated my lessons in paper cutting, but a little messiness usually accompanies any art skill.
I think I have a rather unique skill- I can usually cut out anything I see or clearly visualize. I don’t use a pattern or draw it first. I just think about it and then cut. It might take me a few tries before I’m happy with the shape, but once it is set in my mind I can usually repeat it over and over. Not something very useful in daily life, but cutting a bunny from a plain piece of paper impresses kindergartners. LOL They consider it magical.
I suppose if I had been more knowledgeable about the world I might have developed my abilities and pursued some artistic path. Instead, other than teaching my own children a few basic cutting skills, I didn’t think much about paper cutting until I became a teacher. Then I not only started teaching my students to cut, but I discovered the ultimate paper art creation- the “pop-up” book.
I’m not sure why I spent twenty years woefully unaware of this great art form. Perhaps even a glance at them when my children were small was enough to make me reluctant to explore them further. After all, they were always more expensive and fragile than other books. And libraries, our normal source of reading material, seldom had any that survived frequent use.
Once I started teaching I became a little obsessed with children’s literature and bought hundreds of books for my classroom. By then there were many books with pop-up characters and pull-tabs and moving parts. Some could be safely entrusted to the hands of young children, and the more complicated ones could be saved for story circle. Many were clever and entertaining, but none surpassed the magical beauty of the books created by Robert Sabuda.
The cabin has lights!
Robert Sabuda’s books fascinate me! They’re not only beautiful, but the way the pieces fold and pages “work” is ingenious. When I read “Winter’s Tale” to my class I always made a point of explaining to them that someone thought of the book with their brain, made the pages with their hands, and then figured out how to make the book for us. Only recently did I discover that Mr. Sabuda shares his skills on his website. I may have to get my scissors out and try my hand at a few of these amazing projects when the weather is cold and blustery. I hope you will check out the site and see if there are projects you would like to try with your children, grandchildren, or students. If you don't want to tackle those, at least cut out a snowflake or two. Paper cutting is a lost art that deserves to be revived.