Posts Categorized: Design

Design + In My Next Life + Life + paper / Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014

In my next life: paper cutter

paper cutting and mid century home
paper cutting

photography by Trisha Zemp 

In My Next Life is a regular column featuring people whose work I admire. Check out previous posts here

I’ve known about Cindy Bean‘s paper cutting work for some time as we’ve shared mutual friends over the years. From the moment I saw it, I’ve been in awe of the intricacies of the medium and how she adeptly maneuvers her knife to create delicate designs. Trisha and I were lucky to visit her one afternoon and watch the master in action. AND, we were pleasantly surprised to find that she lives in the coolest home with a strong mid-century vibe that she shares with her husband, son, and dog. Isn’t her home lovely?! The home is sprinkled with her work, cool products her husband picked up when he lived in NYC and artwork from friends (like Jared Clark‘s piece above her in the top photo). I asked her a few questions about her work and she was kind enough to share some thoughts with us today.

Check out her blog Scherenschnitter here, which has lots of free templates, and her shop here

Describe what you do.

I am a creative. I need to make lists to get things done or I sit and think about all the things I need to do until I haven’t done anything at all. One of the things that I like to put on that list is papercutting. Papercutting, or Scherenschnitte is the art of cutting silhouettes out of paper. It is found in many cultures, from China to Sweden. It is a cost effective form of art that almost anyone can do if they have a spare hour or so. I also love to do graphic design and have recently picked up quilting. My latest project is to merge the art of the silhouette with quilting. Look for new posts based on this sometime in the near future.

How did you get into paper cutting?

In May of 2006, my best friend and I went gadding about Europe. We stopped in Salzburg and visited the birthplace of Mozart. At the gift shop there, I purchased two small paper cuts and thought, I can do this, this looks super fun and easy. Then, later on in our trip, we stopped at my grandparent’s farm in Hermuthausen, Germany. In the sitting room I found a few Scherenschnitte on the wall (see picture below) and my idea of it being easy turned more into thinking that this would take some practice. So I came home and started practicing. At the time, I couldn’t find very many books on the subject, so mostly I learned by trial and error. I now enjoy teaching others how to avoid some of the errors.
paper cutting silhouettes
paper cut heart

What is your favorite part about paper cutting?
I enjoy the calm it brings to me. When I am doing a paper cut, I can listen to podcasts or books and am able to completely zone out so that there is nothing but the papercut I am creating and the thing I am listening to. I also enjoy looking at them months after I have completed them. When I first finish, I am much too critical and see all my mistakes. When I step back and take a look at it a little later, I generally always think, “Hey, I did that? That’s pretty good!”

Who inspires you?

Oh, I love so many. Elsa Mora has some wacky stuff coming out of her brain. She’s also very prolific. I love that. I also enjoy Béatrice Coron. She makes such large pieces and I also love that she uses different medium. I’m jealous that she makes fences with her silhouettes. Sometimes I’ll go into museums and see art of people long forgotten and the intricacy and time that went into those pieces is rarely matched in our modern world. There are so many others. I love Helen Musselwhite, Sarah Trumbauer, Yusuke Oono, Su Blackwell, Emily Hogarth, Rob Ryan – so many out there that inspire me to create better and more beautiful things.

What are your favorite tools to work with? 

I’m a blade kind of girl. I recently discovered that I’m an Olfa blade kind of girl, too. Those blades cut like butter. I bought a whole package of Olfa #11s and I haven’t looked back. I like to use the Xacto knife handle and mat the best though. Is it okay to merge those two? I think so.

What are your favorite mediums to work with? 
I think for those starting out, to try something on a sheet of origami paper might be the best. It holds together really well, is thin and also generally has a white backside that you can draw your artwork on. I’ve recently become a fan of silhouette paper and frequently use plain old scrapbooking paper, but not anything too thick. I also enjoy using printmaking paper because it is thicker, yet really easy to cut through.
gold frames against green wall
steps to paper cutting with Cindy Bean
paper cutting portfolio
What’s a memorable moment from your career?

I’d have to say the month I was locked up in the Tower, literally! I was able to spend a month working in the Tower of London creating eight large paper cuts for their teaching room. I was able to sit in a room and look out the window and see the ravens and the Beefeaters, the buildings where kings and queens had ruled, the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and I was able to talk with various people who knew a rich history of the location at anytime I pleased. My favorite thing to learn about was the Menagerie. They used to have strange practices regarding animals including such things as feeding nails to ostriches and ale to elephants. http://papercutting.blogspot.com/2008/03/tower-of-london-education-center.html
You have a full-time job, a side job, a husband, a step soon, how do you juggle all of your roles?
I used to be able to juggle them really well. I was recently married a year and a half ago and along with the husband came a small young boy. Husbands and children take up a lot of time! I like to hang out with them! They like to be fed! The husband and son are no competition for the evil beast of social media. There is so much fun stuff to look at on Pinterest and Facebook. Sometimes I get too sucked in though and need to tell myself that creating things is much more fulfilling than staring at things that others have done. So I unplug. Then there’s that other full-time job thing that gets in the way sometimes too.

Do you have a mantra you live by?
Clean your room? Oh, wait, that’s what my dad has told me my whole life. I’m bad at keeping things tidy. I get it from him. My mom’s German, so that’s definitely not her trait. I think a mantra of mine might be “Endure to the End.” It kind of sounds depressing but it’s not. I think so much of talent is practice and sometimes we see other people with their abilities and their gifts and we get jealous. But if you watch closely, you’ll see that they are enduring. They keep on working at the thing they enjoy and it becomes second nature to them. A lot of hard work goes into creating things that last and are beautiful.
Joseph Smith paper cut in glass cloche

Cindy Bean's mid century home

Tell us about your house and your decorating process.

I think I could best sum up our house with a quote by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” That is a work in progress though. Sometimes I collect too many things that I believe to be beautiful and have to let some things go. I like that Tom, my husband, likes similar things. His taste is more streamlined than mine. He’s not as big a fan of squirrels.

Any advice you would give to people who are wanting to start paper cutting? 

Don’t be afraid to use glue! If you are cutting something and are almost done and cut off an arm or something, just glue that sucker right back together on the very edge. If you butt it up from edge to edge and don’t overlap the paper, it will barely be noticeable. There are some people that are perfectionists who can’t do this, and that’s fine, they can start all over. As you get better, you will learn the signs of when you are about to make a mistake and will stop. Usually it’s when I’m tired. So stop, put it away and come back to it. Then you won’t have to use the glue.

Charlie Sheen quote
paper cutting
Jared Lindsay Clark piece
Work of paper cutter

collaborations + Design + flowers + paper flowers + Projects + video / Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014

Experimenting with corn husks

corn husk flowers rose
paper flower bouquet with corn husk flowers
corn husk rose flower
corn husk flower bouquet
I posted this picture the other day on Instagram and hinted: it’s not made of paper, guess the material? Thinking that no one would guess. I was surprised to find that many people nailed it on the head. Corn husks! Am I just super out of the loop and never in a million years would I think to create something with corn husks? I’m guessing it was a thing back in the day or something. You got me.
ANYWAY, my intern Trisha Zemp, approached me about doing a project made of corn somehow and she suggested corn husks. Yumm, sure? I started experimenting with them and then thought, “Wait, is my life supposed to be dedicated to corn husks?” They’re dreamy. They hold a shape that paper cannot replicate, you can manipulate them to do anything, they’ve got a lovely grain. I worked until 3am creating petal after petal. Guys, it’s all about corn husks! 
I’ve done a few since them for this and that and I’ll show you a bit of what I’ve been doing here. I added some into a paper flower bouquet, second picture from the top, I was hired to create for someone retiring and created a corn husk hat for another shoot which I’ll show when it comes out.
And THEN, Trisha had the idea to create a little stop motion. You know, the genesis of the corn husk flower. It’s only natural. Isn’t it adorable?

More DIY corn husk projects on their way. I know you’re stoked.

photography and stop motion by the wonderful Trisha Zemp

Design + Interiors + Style + Style Sheets / Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014

Style Sheets: Mary Blair

Style Sheets is a monthly collaboration where Jessica Williams, a Brooklyn interior designer, illustrator Michelle Christensen, and I re-imagine the interior of one of our favorite icons. Check out the past icons here.
I’ve been entranced with the work of Mary Blair since I discovered her a few months ago in Lulu magazine. I don’t know how her name had escaped me all these years as she was a creative director for Disney and worked on projects like Alice in Wonderland, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. Her color was ground breaking and provides endless amounts of inspiration. There are a number of books out there on her and I can’t wait to dig into them. 
Who is YOUR icon? 
Interior collage by Jessica Lynn Williams 
illustration by Michelle Christensen

collaborations + Design + DIY + storytelling / Wednesday, 25 Dec 2013

The story of The Nutcracker

I grew up going to see The Nutcracker every year. I guess that’s what happens when your Russian ballet teacher tells you you’re too chubby to audition for it–when you’re 8. No hard feelings, I swear. Illustrator Michelle Christensen, photography Jessica Peterson, hairstylist Aubrey Nelson, and I spent a glorious day with model/former ballet dancer at Ballet West (and vintage seller and crafter) Nicole Choules of Elsa Bags making props and having a ton of fun doing this shoot. I thought Christmas was the perfect way to show it off. 
Merry Christmas! Thank you sincerely for following along on my crafty adventures. You mean the world.
props by Michelle and me
photography by Jessica Peterson
modeling/dancing by Nicole Choules
costumes provided by Natalie Taylor (thank you so much!)
oversized ornament DIY concept from Studio DIY 
Check out the behind the scenes photos below:


Aubrey and Nicole

Michelle and me

christmas + Design + DIY + holiday + Life + My Scandinavian Christmas + Scandinavia / Monday, 23 Dec 2013

Celebrating Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia (pronounced Loo-CEE-uh in Scandinavia…what is it here???) ) is December 13th and to celebrate I teamed up with the magical forces of photograph Ciara Richardson and floral designer Ashley Beyer of Tinge Floral, the ladies with whom I did the Midsummer shoot. These ladies are pure joy to work with and soak in their beautiful aura. 
The holiday celebrates the darkest time of the year with a light festival (December 13th was traditionally thought to be the longest night of the year). In the Scandinavian countries, a procession of girls carry candles and treats wearing white and a red sash. The lead girl wears a crown of candles. We simplified ours with a beautiful bay leaf crown made by me and Ashley (I describe how to make it below).
Read how to make the crown and some behind the scene photos by click below: 

I looked everywhere for a pre-made crown form online and alas, they were all sold out. You can find some pretty over the top forms like this or this but they’re not as available as they are in Scandinavia. SO, I had to create my own. Not so much a problem when you’re a DIY blog. First, I tried a styrofoam wreath form like this one and I just stuck the candles directly in it and it worked like a charm. BUT, it was too clunky for the garland wrapped around so I had to come up with an alternative.
What I ended up with was using an embroidery hoop, wire, and floral tape. With the wire, I created a spiral slightly smaller than the bottom of the candle then I wired it A LOT to the embroidery hoop over and over and over. You don’t want to have flimsy candle holders. If you really want to be safe, add metal cups into the bottom of the spirals. After I placed all four around the hoop, I secured them with white floral tape (again, A LOT) for extra measure. The candles were very secure in the end.
Then Ashley worked her magic and used bay leaves in small clumps wired to the hoop. So pretty huh?! 

Thank you to Jenny Bradley for being such a beautiful model. You are magic. And Jessica Peterson for your gorgeous studio. And Audrey Ellsworth for helping last minute!

And of course, Ashley and Ciara. I don’t know how you do it.

Happy (belated) Santa Lucia!