Part one of uncovering foreign craftiness will feature Japan. Some of you might know Kirigami already. I'll give you a little portrait about the craft, some resources to get started and my own experience when I tried my luck. I used to do kirigami a little as a kid (cutting snowflakes...) but apart from that I didn't have a lot of experience. Then one of my swap-partners and first blog followers was so sweet to send me a kirigami starter kit. Also see the next post for a tutorial of a kirigami window hanging.
History and Role in the Country
As you could have guessed, the first part of the name "kirigami" means "to cut" and the second "paper". Cutting the paper is often combined with folding the paper.
I couldn't find a lot about the history and role of kirigami. Several sites mention that kirigami goes back a long time and was used to create offerings for the gods in temples. It later became recognized as an art form. Today many primary school children learn it by cutting snowflakes or making paper doll chains.
Artists on the other hand create amazingly complex designs as you can see on this page (that is also a good starting place for information about kirigami).
How it is done
There are millions of ways to do kirigami. You can fold the paper first and then cut away shapes to create symmetry or even fold in between. It completely depends which project you'd like to do. Have a look at what you get when you search for kirigami in flickr. Amazing variety, isn't it?!
The snowflake is a good place to start as the complexity is only determined by your skill, it doesn't take too long (not like an altered book project), the ingredients are cheap and the results are very interesting designs. And you won't necessarily end up with a snowflake as my how-to shows...
Here's a tutorial of how to create the basic snowflake:
Here's a more complex one (although the background music makes is quite annoying after this long winter...). As you can see, there are different folding techniques.
Ok, but what do you do with all the snowflakes you created? This designer's site has some awesome and stylish products made from kirigami designs. He makes them from fabric or uses the designs as stencils.
Aren't these coasters nice:
If you are in a place that has internet but no paper, this site has a game that lets you cut snowflake designs (with straight lines). It is also nice practice at times.
Here's a video that shows you how to do a three dimensional christmas tree with star on top by combining folding and cutting. Not really in season, but it's lovely.
Totally flexible. When you start with the snowflake even kids can do it and at the same time there is no upper limit. The complexity of the design will reflect your skill. If you aim higher and attempt some pop-up shapes or architecture, the difficulty increases significantly. Beware as you can become frustrated if you aim too high.
You only need good paper scissors and paper. My scissors had a round point which was helpful as it didn't get caught in the details I had already cut. A sharp point is probably better for details though. Use thin paper for snowflakes so the multiple folds don't get too bulky. I used thin origami paper. You can use different colors so you'll get more than just white snowflakes.
High. It was fun to do something I've done as a child but now on a more advanced level. Also, cutting snowflakes doesn't take long and the end result is always a nice surprise. So five stars for fun factor!