It's 2014, and our family is embarking on our virtual travel to West Africa. To explore these countries and their culture, we will follow along with the festivals, cook and eat traditional foods, learn of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Chinese Paper Cutting {With Tutorial & Template}

Chinese paper cutting has been around almost since paper was invented. They were once used for ceremonial and religious purposes, being buried with the dead, and as offerings for ancestors and gods. They were also used as stencils for woodcarving, lacquer and porcelain; and as guides for embroidery. For over a thousand years, papercuts have decorated farm households. 
Source
Considered a folk handicraft, papercuts are made with the use of scissors and knives. Some artists work with a pattern, creating many identical pieces at a time, while others create their patterns freehand. Red is mostly used, since it is considered the most auspicious color, though Yuxian papercuts are multicolored.


Yuxian Papercut with Double Happiness Character
Photo Credit: Jenny Kellerhals
Known as window flowers, these days papercuts are mostly decorations, adorning walls, windows, doors, mirrors and lamps. These intricate pieces are often Chinese characters, animals & flowers rich with symbolism, and domestic scenes. Entrances decorated with papercuts are supposed to bring good luck, and as gifts, they are expressions of wishes for wealth, health & longevity.

Created by Jing Jing Jiang
There was a time when papercutting skills were a criteria for choosing a bride, since good papecuts are a sign of patience, diligence and attention to detail.

Decorating our Windows with Papercuts




We spent a couple of hours having fun with papercuts to add more red to our dining room for Lunar New Year. Attached to our patio door window panes, the papercuts were made with red tissue paper - the photo does not do them justice :) We used red tissue paper because it was readily available, though being so delicate meant dealing with a few tears when pasting them. Red copy paper or origami paper can also be used. 


Even Hubby joined in !
We did simple, symmetrical designs by folding our paper in half, and drawing a design prior to cutting it out. The internet was used for inspiration: Craftiments  offers a great printable template for two horse patterns in honor of the Year of the Horse; the fish, pagodas and chrysanthemum we drew based on the images here, here, and here. The fish symbolizes plenty, and the chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity.



Elle, born in the Year of the Horse, cut this horse (template from Craftiments) and drew the character for horse to put up in her room.
I had fun making the above butterfly using the video tutorial found here.

Spring & Double Happiness Papercut Templates


We also did a papercut of the Chinese character for Spring, in honor of the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year). Fold your paper in half, place template with straight side along the fold, cut out, and unfold your papercut. 




Xi is the character that means double happiness, traditionally given as a gift at a wedding, bringing the new couple happiness. It is also often used decoratively during the Spring festival. We used origami paper to make these as keepsakes.



Our paper is 6"x6". Fold in half once, red side in (that way any pencil markings left won't be seen), then in half a second time.



Take the cut out of the template, keeping the sides of the template along both folded edges of your paper. Trace around the template (paperclips can help keep the template in place). Cut along the black lines. Unfold, and voila! Much happiness to you!






You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:
You can find more creative and kid friendly activities at the following linkups:
Entertaining & Educational,  AfterSchool Blog Hop


9 comments:

  1. Oh. look at your paper cuts at the window! I want some!! They are seriously cool and look really, really beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Claire! I would love to get my hands on a real Chinese papercut - I've always found them gorgeous, and mind boggling that it can be done freehand!

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  2. They have amazingly intricate details cut into the paper. It looks like an addicting hobby. My kids love making snowflakes, and this looks like a similar idea that can be taken to so many more creative levels. Thanks for sharing at Highhill Education.

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    1. For symetrical ones, it's a lot like snowflakes, with a bit of creativity where to fold and cut :)

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  3. These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing your tutorial at the After School Link up.
    Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

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    1. Thank you Kelly! And thanks for hosting the link up!

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  4. Oh I love these! I remember doing some paper cutting as a kid, and loving to try different shapes. Using the tissue paper probably makes it so much easier to do than the construction paper I used as a kid.

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    1. They are fun - and the origami paper was actually nicer to use than the tissue paper - still thin, but not so thin it rips easily.

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  5. I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your project! You can see it here:

    http://funfamilycrafts.com/papercut-double-happiness/

    If you have other kid-friendly craft tutorials or printables, we'd love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a great project idea!

    ReplyDelete

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