Papercutting Artist Poppy Chancellor
Papercutting has to be one of *the* most on trend crafts at the moment and nobody cuts paper quite like papercutting artist Poppy Chancellor. We caught up with Poppy fresh from Latitude festival and before she heads off to The Handmade Fair in September, where she’ll be running workshops for some very lucky people!
Papercutting Artist Poppy Chancellor
We love your paper creations. How did you get into papercutting and can you remember what your first piece was?
At university I started cutting out people’s profiles on the bus for a an illustration project. I loved how bold the images were, they had great character. So I started pursuing experimenting with paper for my degree show. I loved it and started making everything out of paper, like cards and gifts. So I started making personalised presents for everyone I knew and gradually the word spread and everyone wanted one!
Have you always had a creative flair?
I remember reading this book called ‘A Necklace of raindrops’ which was illustrated totally in silhouette. I used to copy the drawings for hours when I was a child. I loved that you couldn’t see everything, that it was just a shadow suggesting shape. I thought it was like magic. I think that’s where my love for the cut-out first started.
Papercutting is an ancient craft. How do your designs differ from tradition and where do you get your ideas from?
I love it when an ancient craft can be seen as contemporary. I find my work has to be relevant to keep me interested. I have a very specific sense of humour which always runs through my designs. I work a lot with the female form and research old movie stars and silent screen sirens. I also draw from the arts and crafts movement, like William Morris and Burne Jones. If you add these more traditional influences to modern content, I think there’s a wonderful outcome which combines old and new.
I love it when an ancient craft can be seen as contemporary.
Have you had any crafting disasters along the way?
I hate cutting myself with my scalpel. If I work too late and get tired I tend to have accidents. I’ve had stitches a few times WITHOUT anaesthetic, and I remember thinking ‘wow this really is suffering for your art.’
Now I have a curfew on how late I can work and I have a first aid stash in the studio just in case…
What are your tips for someone that wants to get started with papercutting? Can you recommend any good projects for beginners?
I love just playing around cutting different shapes to get started. If you haven’t used a scalpel much it’s good to just get used to the pressure and sharpness of the blade etc. If you have a flair for design you can draw up a few ideas and work from those, or use pre-designed templates like the ones we’ll be using at The Handmade Fair.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to turn their hobby into a business?
Use both sides of your brain! I find it hard to switch from being the creative to being the business woman. You have to be just as good at spread sheets as you are at making wonderful things. You can get always get someone to help you with the parts you’re not so good at, but that can cost money. The more you can do yourself, the more cash you can save and put back into your new business.
You recently ran a workshop at Latitude Festival in the summer. Do you enjoy teaching new crafters?
Latitude was amazing! We had 300 people desperate to make papercuts! There were loads of people working on the floor. It’s so great to see people who’ve never done it before get carried away. The crowd were taking it really seriously which I didn’t expect at a music festival. I always love having a microphone, I just end up doing karaoke most of the time.
I find it hard to switch from being the creative to being the business woman. You have to be just as good at spread sheets as you are at making wonderful things.
You’re also returning to The Handmade Fair in September – what are you most looking forward to about the event?
I love showing the crafters how easy papercutting can be. I think a lot of people see it as this delicate intricate thing, and I think that puts them off. Once you get the hang of it, it’s so fun and people always tell me they find it really relaxing. Also a lot of my friends are running workshops so I love joining in with them (and trying to distract them when they’re in teacher mode.) Rosy Nicholas is so amazing in the pom-pom tent, I went to her workshop 3 times in one day!
When you’re not papercutting, are there any other crafts that interest you?
I love calligraphy but I’m not very good at it. Nowadays I don’t have as much time to do other crafts but I’m always making things. Wether it’s paper decorations for a party, a wedding pinatã or a poster for someone’s marathon, I’m usually the resident maker for my friends and family.
What are the five essential pieces of kit you couldn’t be without?
Scalpel, new blades, cutting mat, pencil, rubber
And finally, what can we expect from Poppy’s Papercuts in the coming months?
I’m panning my next exhibition at the moment, which is always a highlight for me. Also I’d love to write a book about paper cutting so maybe if I say it out loud, I’ll have to do it!!