Monday, December 18, 2006

May Your Holidays be Bright

Wishing all friends of WindBagandThunder a happy and safe holiday season.

I hope you've enjoyed the journey so far, I know I have. It's been wonderful meeting you all. 2007 holds lots of exciting new projects among which will be the launch of my website Flying Star Toys.

I'll be taking a short break over Christmas but I'll be back again to kick off the start of the new year.

Until then, take care with all my love,

Florence xx

Image: North African Haiti, nineteenth or early twentieth century. Coloured cotton appliqued to sack cloth, 260 x 122cm. From Matisse: His Art and His Textiles.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

News Flash: New book on Contemporary Craft

Before I continue on my own thought path, I'd like to share this book review highlighted in the latest designboom newsletter of the new book "By Hand: the use of craft in contemporary art" by Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro, Princeton Architectural, 2006, ISBN: 1568986106.

Here's a sample of the review:

"age-old techniques, often passed down from one generation to another. with focus on takes a long time to make these laborious art works the process becomes ‘craft’, meaning to ‘care’, is restored to its original sense.the process of fabrication as gestures of sincerity."

Unfortunately, it wont be available on Amazon until after Christmas, but worth adding to the wishlist.

Image 2: "Cute and Scary" (detail) by Aya Kakeda, 2004

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Imperfection by design and Arachne's Legacy

In my last post Why I like Folk Art - part 1 there was some discussion in the comments on the use of imperfection in craft by design and not by fault. Jude introduced us to the Christian folk custom of using imperfection in work as a form of devotion; that perfection belongs only to God - "Only God can make a tree." I also mentioned Chinese art theory introducing the notion of the circulation of qi (I'll be doing a whole post on this soon). But today, as I was ferrying miniature Lilli&Tom to Mt Ommaney library for their December sojourn, I remembered the Ancient Greek myth of Arachne.

Arachne was a young girl from the town of Lydia, her weaving skills were of such quality that her work was renowned throughout the country and beyond. Soon words praising her skill reached the ears of Athena herself, the Goddess who invented the spindle. The Goddess, affronted by this praise for a mere mortal, came down from Olympus and challenged Arachne to a contest in weaving skill.

Arachne wove a tapestry of incredible depth of colour, with details showing the troubled and scandalous lives of the Gods. The people marvelled at the work, the like of which had never been seen before. However, Athena was not to be out done, and standing her giant spindle on a mountain top she took the golden clouds of morning onto her staff, then she wove into the cloth the silver of starlight and brought forth scenes of the world's creation. The people fell down and worshiped her. Arachne in despair killed herself but Athena took pity on her and instead transformed her into a spider - a weaver of considerable skill but of humble disposition.

It can be noticed from the myth that high praise has attracted the "evil eye" in this case from the powerful Goddess Athena whose reputation Arachne's perfection had threatened. Shelia Paine, in her book "Amulets: A Secret World of Powers, Charms and Magic", records that in many cultures both ancient and extant, the evil eye is alerted by perfection and words of praise, placing the subject in danger of misfortune (due most likely to the machinations of envy and jealousy). To avert this danger, charms are used during the process of weaving and elements are made imperfect. The picture above illustrates a triangle charm use for this very purpose. The devise of imperfection in the crafts as magical protection is quite wide spread.

Image 1: Detail from the two fold screen "Weavers and Dyers". From the first half of the 17th century, Edo period. Pigment on gold leaf over paper. height 151.3 cm x width 170.9 cm. From the collection of MOA Museum of Art, Japan.

Image 2: Triangle amulet protecting a loom in Northern Turkmenistan. From the book, "Amulets: A world of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic", Shelia Paine, Thames and Hudson, London, 2004. ISBN 0-500-28510-1

Arachne myth adapted from "Gods, Demigods and Demons: An Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology", Bernard Evslin, Scholastic Book Services, 1975.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why I like Folk Art - part 1

"(folk art)...owe their timeless appeal in part to their simplicity and familiarity and in part to the manner in which they were interpreted. The accomplished folk artist, often far removed from sophisticated centres of culture, captured intentionally or not the intrinsic beauty of everyday objects and freely adapted traditional symbols.

"In the personal touches - the oddly placed Z on the alphabet quilt, a mermaid holding a bow and arrow - we are reminded of the endless resoursefulness of the individual spirit in imparting to ordinary images an extraordinary vitality."

Quote from the book, "From A to Z: A Folk Art Alphabet" by Karen M. Jones, A Main Street Press Book, Mayflower Books, New York City, 1978. Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 78-61870

Image 1: Merimaid, by Mary Ann Wilson, 1800-1820, ink and watercolour on paper, 13 x 16 inches. New York Historical Association, USA.

Image 2: Alphabet Quilt, c. 1875, found in Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA. Cotton, 801/2 x 80 inches, Pivate Collection.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My first Net Swap

Shell, a fellow Brisbane artist and blogger, swapped me one of her new toys for a TechGnoMe. Her new toy owls are called "Hooter" and I was so excited when the Australia Post package man knocked on the door this afternoon. Not only was there this wonderful hand drawn toy but she also included a linocut and an etching of birds as well.

This was my first internet craft swap and I have to say I like it :D I have always loved getting packages in the mail and I have just discovered that getting handmade toys in the mail are the BEST packages to receive!! really!

Thanks Shell.

Oh, and check out the cussion behind the Hooter, I picked it up today from the Salvos. What a great day!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Delightful Show - Umbrella Collective 2006

This was the first Umbrella Collective show and we were all very excited and a bit nervous too...would anyone show up? Will all go smoothly?

We began our set up Friday,the day before the show. Arriving with our car loads of stuff, we quickly brought out boxes and boxes of supplies, displays and goodies. Thanks to the marvelous organisation skills of Kylie Johnson (Paper Boat Press) and some wonderful volunteers things went quickly and without frission.

Rebecca the Wrecker took these photos and here is one of me waiting behind my stand in preparation for the show to begin. You can see MagicCatsMini, TechGnomes, Pimmie Parrots and a few other toys and items that I have yet to tell you about :) It has been very hot lately so I was glad to be near the window, however the room was quite cool and so it keep people browsing among the lovely stands all day...towards the end of the day groups of chatting people even started to sit in groups on the floor.

When 9am came it was like a king tide flowed through the doors, I was told that some people still had the newspaper article about us clutched in their hands. I really don't know were the time went and I deeply apologize to those with who came to see me but didn't get a chance to say hello to. A big thankyou to all those who came to the Umbrella Collective Christmas show and to those who helped out (especially Mr Accordion and MB), I know we all had a great time, I hope you did too :)

For more on the show from the other members:

Liana Kable's post WOW!!!!!
Rebecca Ward's post Umbrella Day
Shannon Garson's post Delightful Thing
Sarah Bowe's Post delightful...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

MoonBeans - Traveller's Trinkets

MoonBeans fall from the moon on bright nights. They are seeds from the Gaint Cassia Tree that grows on the moon. They are particularly lucky for travellers.

There were a couple of sources of inspiration for MoonBeans. Firstly, there is the charming tale of the seeds that fell from the moon on the night of the Autumn festival from the tale Moonlight Over Casssia Peak - you can find this illustrated story on my Asain folktale blog Crackle Mountain. These seeds where like pearls and so for the fabric, I've used the naturally shiny lycra in white for their faces.

Another inspiration, also of Asian origin, is the old folk magic tradition in Japan of throwing beans in ones path before setting out on a long trip. This was to protect the traveller from Oni (a kind of Japanese demon). That is the reason why MoonBeans are good for travellers and as gifts to people who will be setting out on a journey.

Of course it wouldn't be magical if it didn't have a bell and so MoonBeans have a tiny seed bell on the reverse side on the top of its head - give them a little jingle to set the magic going. You'll also find a little butterfly at the base to be reminded of the creatures that are attracted to the moon.

MoonBeans are one of my Flying Star Toys.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I see TechGnoMe

The TechGnoMe Song

TechGnoMe, TechGnoMe,
As far as I can see,
I see TechGnoMe!

Meet TechGnoMe, they come from the Virtual Magic Forest. They are super happy and with their magic tassle they are super lucky too. TechGnoMe would love to live in your Virtual Garden (that is your computer desk ;) or anywhere that needs some fun. They are sure to bring you a happier day!

TechGnoMe faces are each individually drawn on felt using artist quality pigments for long life. They are made from panne velvet and spandex specially choosen for their techno visual appeal. TechGnoMe are weighted in the base so they will stand tall no matter how freaked out you might get while dealing with daily issues. Tinkle their little bell when in need of extra luck.

TechGnoMe are a Flying Star Toy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Coast of Provence 6 - Paul Klee

Rebecca the Wrecker has invited us to join in her Nautical Week. Since I have just been in the quilt zone I thought I would share a work by another of my favourite artists - Paul Klee. I have often thought his work to be in sympathy with the quilt.

Paul Klee frequently used the boat motive through out his career, even as his work became progressively abstract the boat remained. "Coast of Provence 6" is an extremely sophisticated painting - notice the waves of yellow on the diagonal that seam to sweep across the surface creating a shimmering glow. The rectangles are the buildings around the port and the triangles and squares above are the boats on the water.

Rebecca mentioned that yellow was the fourth and often neglected nautical colour, as you can see, Paul Klee does not ignore its potential.

"Coast of Provence 6", 1927, water colour on paper, 22.8 x 30cm.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mini Quilt - Turkish Coffee

I haven't quilted in ages, but I've been itching to quilt for so long. I wasn't planning to make a mini-quilt. When I began I had some other plans in mind but as it came along I discovered it was going to be too fine for my initial purpose.

Completely hand sewn "Turkish Coffee" is made with a combination of fabrics: quilt cottons from Yuwa - reproduction 1830s designs; golden silk in two colours; and some lovely textured weaves from Japan. (I bought the Yuwa fabrics and the Japanese waffle weave fabric from The Quilters Barn when they were here for the last Craft&Stitches show.) Its dimensions are 46cm x 51cm (18" x 201/4').

Its a very traditional quilt really, the design base is Wild Goose Chase (that's the triangles all going in the same direction as you can see). But what fascinates me is the un-ending combinations possible even with tried and true favourites. The challenge is in the nuance - bringing something of beauty into being completely sympathetic to the materials.

It is also very satisfying to bring small bits of fabric together to make a cloth of unbelievably more marvelous a quality that the sum of its parts.

I was inspired to make "Turkish Coffee" from a singular Amish quilt from Indiana (c 1910), from the book Quilts From the Indiana Amish: A regional Collection. It is a singular quilt because it incorporates printed fabrics which the Amish rarely use. But additional to this I would also like to mention another source of inspiration, for I couldn't help but think of her while I worked with the magic blue moon fabric - Jude, one of my favourite quilters, for her quilts are truly magic.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Delightful Things for Christmas

It's nearly Christmas and Santa's elves are busy at work making all sort of wonderful gifts for you. As a toy maker this is an especially busy time as Santa invariably out-sources much of his elves' work.

But before Santa gets the pick of the bunch we've stashed away a few of our favourite goodies to present in a special Christmas show.

My fellow Queensland makers and I, have banded together to create The Umbrella Collective - Artists United by Craft and Friendship. You can keep up to date with all our latest work in one place!

And if you happen to be in Brisbane why not come to the show and solve all your gift dilemmas in one hit! But Shhhhhh....don't tell Santa ;)

Saturday 25th November
9am -3pm

St Francis Theological College
233 Milton Road, Milton
entrance via Baroona Rd

parking available
cash or cheque only
refreshments available

More Details

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Story on Crackle Mountain

"Moonlight Over Cassia Peak" is the latest story on Crackle Mountain my Asian Folktale blog. Its been two months since the last story so I hope you'll enjoy this charming Chinese tale.

The image above is Horaiji temple, Mikawa Province by Hiroshigi Ando, August 1853, Japan. Coloured woodblock print.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coastal Birds Series - Sneak Peak

I've been interested in creating folk art based on the local wildlife here in South-East Queensland as a way of uniting our imaginative lives to our environment. The native peoples of Australia have this as a matter of course but we European imports are very slow in maturing a sense of place.

Australian Pelican close upAustralian Pelican - Flying Star Toys

I've been following the work of Rachel Arthur for a few years now and we have had many a long talk about representing what is close to our hearts often in the very things we might over look. One of Rachel's latest still life paintings "Past and Present" depicts the lamington, and Australian cake, on an old wooden table. Rather than being a nostalgia painting rather there is a sense of tender love for our cultural threads.

Black Swan close upBlack Swan tail detail

Rachel and I both live in the same area around Sandgate, Brisbane. It is full of the noise of bird life, fruit bats and possum games on the iron roof tops at night. Her birds have always charmed me and as we talked about things we got to thinking about doing something together.

Silver Gull - Coastal Bird seriesSilver Gull close up

Rachel came around to my house with some simple pencil illustrations and an old brown port full of her fabrics. One of Rachel's techniques is to paint on cloth wrapped canvas to utilize the pattern and textures of the fabrics, especially the fabrics she has collected from her travels to India. As soon as I saw her illustrations I knew they would be perfect for transformation into toys; they just had that look about them :)

With the exhibition deadline looming, I selected three of the seven to make up, with the rest to follow in time. You can see my pattern preparation in my Flikr stream. The fabrics chosen for the toys ended up being a combination of my own and some of Rachel's. This is a special set for that reason as subsequent sets will be entirely from my own stash.

Today I send them away to Rachel and then onto Sydney for the Furry Friend's exhibition in Surry Hills. I hope to work on the rest of the series early 2007.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Furry Friends Exhibition

Furry Friends - an Ode to Furry Creatures Worldwide

1st November - 25th November 2006 Opening 6pm - 8pm Wednesday 1st Nov. Canvas Gallery, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia. Studio 47, 61-89 Buckingham Street.

I've have had the pleasure of collaborating on a new range for Flying Star Toys with fellow Brisbane artist/illustrator Rachel Arthur; called Coastal Birds. Based on illustrations by Rachel, I'm transforming seven Australian coastal birds
into art toys. Three of which will be appearing in the up coming exhibition at Canvas Gallery, Surry Hills.

Both Rachel and I, take a keen interest in folk art and textiles, which coupled with a desire to develop a local iconography. Her delightful illustrations have blended perfectly with the Flying Star Toy ethic and I'm thrilled to be able to present to the public this new range..... back to making them!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Buy Bye


As you may have heard Google has just bought YouTube for over $2 Billion. Though not a video blogger, I've been YouTubing for about 3 months. I've had heaps of fun finding natty little videos to share with you all. So here's a little homage to YouTube I found posted by user chris166. Its well worth the watch. (approx. 10 mins) I wonder how things will change as Google takes over?

(For mature audiences only some content may offend)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What Artist's Say - Tadeusz Kantor

"..that freedom in art must constantly be won, that the concept of freedom does not exist without something that limits it. And that every boundary which is achieved becomes in turn a limitation. That form is imprisionment, that only the attitude remains, and it too is constantly evolving."

Tadeusz Kantor interviewed by Wieslaw Borowski (Warszawa, 1982) pg 40

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pimmie Parrots - Contemporary Folk Art Toys

Pimmie Parrots are a recent addition to the Flying Star Toy family. They form part of my Contemporary Folk Art range of toys.

Pimmie Parrots take their inspiration from Mexican Folk Art Owls. A few years ago I stumbled upon a beautiful ceramic owl shaped like an arch and simply painted in a folk art style in the front and on the back an elaborate floral pattern reminiscent of rich textiles. He lives as a hall guardian marking the boundary between the front, public part of the house and the private rooms beyond. At the time I had know idea where my owl was made until I happened on two coincidence: firstly, I was walking to Eckersley's art supply on Edward Street when I saw a hairdressers window filled will owls, among them was huge version of my owl along with a few similar but of a different style, this told me that they must have been made in fairly larger numbers. Not long after I found a rather battered owl at a market, it was of one of the other variety I had seen in the hairdresser's window and on inspecting its base found it to be made in Mexico. Now I knew their origin.

Since then I have occasionally searched for more images of them on eBay and have found a surprising array of them. Below is one of these photos; two white owls in more of an egg like shape with very crude yet delightful painting; most of the Mexican Folk Art owls are much more elaborate and yet have similar beak protrusion and curved lines around the large eyes. You can see this in the Pimmie Parrots too. More images of Mexican Folk Art owls and a Japanese wooden Folk Art owl can be seen in my flikr stream.

Ever since I brought my owl home I have had it in the back of my mind to create a fabric version of some kind. Last month I finally had the space and time to try, but a very interesting thing happened....

My owl became a parrot. When I come to think about it it wasn't at all strange at all. Here in Sandgate Brisbane we are very near large areas of bush land and we share our days with the call of the parrots species of Cockatoo, Galah, and Rainbow Lorikete. They sport around the house feeding on the flower nectar or roam the sky in big white flocks that scream and spit out seed husks and drop flowers in their rampage, or snuggle with their life-partner in the late afternoon. As Folk Art reflects the place in which it is born, it was with a natural and yet unseen hand that their final form was guided from owl to parrot.

But there is also a more personal side to this story. I have dedicated these toys to my grandfather, Archibald Walmsley. When my sister and I were younger we spent all of our holidays with my mother's parents. Poppy had a special friend, his dark blue budgerigar whom he called Pimmie. I remember his care and thoughtfulness for Pimmie; how he would take us into the garden and show us the thistle leaves to pick and just how to wedge then into the cage so Pimmie could eat them without them falling out of the cage. Later I had my own blue budgerigar call Bluey and that tender care was passed on to me. When considering the name for these toys I remembered dear Pimmie; and so Pimmie Parrots were born.

Pimmie Parrots are cloth art toys. Handmade and hand painted using artist quality pigment ink, each one unique and orginal. Backed with two varieties of designer fabrics, they range in size from 30cm to 5cm and are weighted to stand upright without support.

Friday, September 29, 2006

MajicCatsMini - Flying Star Toys

I've been so busy making toys for the State Library of Queensland these last 7 months that I've hardly had time for anything else! But I've managed to squeeze a few hours of designing in from time to time, and as usual continue my obscure studies.

Among my studies is the study of folk magic and the traditions of amulet making. This is not a new interest for me in fact I was mixing exotic perfumes and studying the zodiac since I was barely a teenager. While I crammed for chemistry I read religiously the way of the Wicca and at University while the aspects of Keynes where discussed my mind was also turning over the interpretations of the Kabbalah. I've always been interested in considering all sides to this big wide world not just the familiar ones. Curiosity, artistry, spirituality and a scientific-like process all pull me towards not just study but investigation. To do and to know, not just to think.

As I've been an embroiderer for most of my life I love fabrics and threads. Over time a great sensitivity to textures and sheens and fibres develops. One's fingers twist each thread differently and the needle is worked with the prowess of the conductor's baton. I love embroidery not just as an end product but also as a process - quiet, concentrated discipline that secures between its threads the heart. Fascinated, my studies have brought me to learn of the roots of embroidery as amulet. Designs and colours and subjects where all worked for the purpose of protection: decorative aprons around the waist where not to keep the dirt off but to magically protect the belly; an embroidered towel by the stove was to protect the fireplace. Anywhere or anything that people felt was venerable to the evil eye was in some way guarded by a magical devise. Once you become aware of it you can still see aspects of it today, and the world becomes a magical place indeed.

With a dual interest in folk stories, I'm drawn to discover the active imaginative link to our subconscious life. The type of art I'm developing seeks to recover this knowledge and then apply it, to satisfy our deep human need for beauty, love, belonging and security. I've found that these objects work because they are so rooted into human history that they function upon us and our environment just as colours can promote certain feeling like blue for calm, red for passion. This is the magic of objects: that their presence effect us.

MajicCatsMini's are black cats embroidered with Japanese untwisted art-silk, banded with protective cross stitch in red, blue and green and joyful life-giving flowers and vines. Their reflective button eyes stare out to confront those with harmful thoughts. Their colour acts as a warning for only friendly people and spirits to approach. The cloth I've chosen for the front is a course woven cotton to invoke its ancient roots and while the penne velvet back in electric colours balances with our modern environment and comes in five variations of red, green, blue, yellow and purple. These hand-embroidered cats stand 13cm high and are weighted with steel shot. MajicCatsMini are guardian protectors and are a part of my Flying Star Toys collection.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Planet of Visions - Life After Theory

Having come through the Humanities of the 90s I have spent a great deal of my time caught in the complexity of Theory: from Faucault to Freud, from Nietzsche to Kierkegaard, from Socrates to Social Darwinism, from Keynesian Economics to Milton Friedman's Economic rationalism, and from the Italian Renaissance Neo Platonism to Post Colonial Surrealism, and so on. Like Narcissus, I have been trapped at the waters edge of Theory gazing into the lines and crevices, to see a picture of the landscape of the human mind and history, unable to pull away from the beautiful puzzle. Narcissus, it should be remembered, starved to death and there in lies the reason for the stories endurance - it is a warning.

Philosophy is intergal to the life of human society whether we aware of it or not. They are the visions in which we live. The theories of the 20th century have extended the ability to scrutinize ourselves, our past, our modes of thinking and to see the stratus of convention that make up a civilization. Analysis though does not alter the conditions of society nor do they quell the individual's internal needs and feelings. As was written above the Temple at Delphi, to Know Thyself means not only to recognize the relative state of things but to understand ones position within the current state and the value you bring to that position. These are the most difficult for the journeyman on the path of knowledge because the answers will come only from crossing outside of theory into the path of power and responsibility (to cross from the University to the Senate as it were). These are the parts that contain the truth as it is to oneself - Narcissus must turn away from his refection to regain his body and his face so that he might live.

Theory's trap is to keep one in a state of reflection - to see the myriad of choices, but to stun the motivation to choose. This is a normal function, that is what rational thinking is for, it acts as a pause - a look before you leap. Unfortunately, once the enormous scope of choice and consideration is opened up to the mind, resolve is paused almost indefinitely as one's mind filters through every possibility for the "correct answer" to guide action. The correct answer will never come as reality in this sense is infinitely relative. But we are not only rational, and this should not be forgotten. Of equal importance are the other three Zoas; who are passion, sensation and instinct. They each play a living part in our lives and will us to act with or without reason. Truth as it is to oneself is found here. It is only via the expressions of true feeling in ones actions that one can really live in the world. In effect, it is to choose and to act bravely upon those choices - be them flawed or no.

If theory gives us anything it gives us the knowledge that in the world, vision competes with vision and the vision that holds influence is the one we give into. Civic duty is the participation in creating and supporting one's vision of the world, to advocate among your peers and in the everyday interaction. As human beings we are filled with visions many of them poor sketches of the brilliant bowls of human existence, we need not let them overpower us. Knowledge's gift is to bring colour, clarity and contour to vision to paint it in rich hues that enliven the spirit. Artists need not be philosophers, nor need they create art that is merely the mirror reflecting theory's face. They can feel free to create there own visions and we, the audience, may feel free to be convinced or to object. Let only that we stand proud and respect ourselves enough to speak our minds.


This post has been written in response to Larry Buttrose's essay "Reality's Triumph Over the Relative" from The Sydney Morning Herald September 16-17 2006 (not able to be linked) and to the post by Adam "Back to Reality, Again" from the University of Sydney's Thinking Culture blog. This is a slice of my thoughts as they are when considering the nature of Theory and the Arts. A small slice.

The two images are by Hundertwasser (one of my favourite artists). The first is Landscape with Violet Sun, Paris, 1956, mixed media, 51 x 25 cm. The second is Irinaland Over the Balkans, Rome, November 1969, mixed media, 36.5 x 51 cm. (forgive the book spine image) These pictures are from the book

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Papercuts of the World - Folkart

I have a fascination with folkart, perhaps because the best of it contains just enough perfection and just enough humanity.

Let me show you some beautiful examples of the folkart of papercutting. Papercutting originated in China (paper was invented in China). Instances of papercutting in China can be traced to the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (A.D. 386-581). Later, in the T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 618-906) references to papercuts can found in a poem by the poet Ts'ui Tao-yung. Other sources from this period describe papercuts being worn as hair ornaments by ladies in form of flowers and butterflies.

Above is an example of a Chinese paper cut using red paper. Chinese papercuts can also be white paper that has been coloured with ink to create full colour effects. This image is from wikipedia's Chinese papercut page which has lots of good information about the Chinese paper cutting tradition.

Japan uses the art of papercutting not as festive decoration but as a method used in dying fabric. These papercuts are often extremely elaborate and the pieces are reinforced with hair or thread fine enough not to be seen once the printing has occurred. The picture below has been decorated using this method known as Bingata; these colourful cloths originated in the warmer climate of Okinawa in the 14th century.

These pictures have come from the books: Japanese Floral Stencil Designs and Dyeing Originated in Okinawa: Bingata (Japanese Designs and patterns, Mitsumura Suiko Shoin, ISBN 483810104x.

Scherenschnitte (pronounced shear-n-SNIT- a) is the Swiss name for papercutting and they have a rich tradition of their own. While mainly know for its black paper silhouette many fine examples of Swiss scherenschnitte exists that use coloured papers in layers as well. Above is a heavily worked piece capturing aspects of village life and symbols of love by Johann-Jakob Hauswirth (1808-1871). The image above comes from the book: Paper Cuts by Jakob Hauswirth and Louis-David Saugy, Charles Apotheloz, Thames and Hudson, 1980 ISBN 0500271704.

Polish paper cutting is called wycinanki (pronounced vee-chee-non-kee) and has two types: the bold, black symmetrical style called Kurpie (coor-pye) originating in the Kurpie district of Poland; and the layered paper style that features animals and people from the Lowicz (wo-vitz) district which is shown above. For a quick look at some more examples of Lowicz papercut designs click here, and for a neat little article on the history of Wycinanki: Then and Now from University at Buffalo State University of New York is quite good. The image above comes from the book: Traditional Papercutting: The Art of Scherenschnitte

The distinctive designs of Hawaiian quilts (example above) are based upon papercuts of the lush sub-tropical Hawaiian flora. This quilt was designed by Kathy Nakajima and was appliqued and quilted by Studio K , 2000 (dimensions 109" x 84"). I loved the way Kathy Nakajima describes her inspiration for the quilt:

"The Queen Emma Summer Palace is my favourite place to visit when I'm one the island of O'ahu. Near the entrance, I always see Hawaiian flowers blossoming in a vase. From the windows comes the cool, soothing wind that always takes me, momentarily, to another world. The colours of this quilt are the colours of the wind at the palace. And the pattern is the flowers that are blossoming in the vase."

The applique technique using papercuts for designing can also be seen in the American Baltimore quilt style. The quilt and quotation above comes from the book: Hawaiian Quilts: Tradition and Transition, Reiko Mochinaga Brandon and Loretta G. H. Woodard, University of Hawaii Press, 2005, ISBN 082482928x, page 125.

Papercutting was recently taken up by some British artists; this website of Mister Rob Ryan was passed along to me by Rebecca the Wrecker. Above is an example of his very fine work called "Rise Above It", 2004.

This is hardly a comprehesive look at papercuts but if I do find some good images of the Mexican Papeles Picado and white lace-cutwork I'll do Papercuts of The World - Part 2.