Art + Design

The Art of Paper Cutting: A Visit to the Studio of Artist Pamela Dalton

Pamela Dalton is a master of the art of scherenschnitte, the German folk art of “scissor cutting.” She can go through dozens of blades cutting out a single page, which is then ironed, dyed in coffee, ironed again and painted. Her first book, Brother Sun, Sister Moon was named a Best Illustrated Book by the New York Times, while her next book, Giving Thanks, was praised by Kirkus Reviews for being “suffused with and inspiring gratitude and joy.” Her latest project, A Village Christmas, includes intricately-cut ornaments that are easy to put together and add a touch of folk whimsy to holiday decor.

A Village Christmas

A Village Christmas

Pamela to invited us into her studio to give a glimpse of what she’s working on now, and the space that inspires her.

Pamela Dalton Paper Cutting

This piece is roughly 15″ square and will be painted. When it’s finished and framed, it is destined for the Museum of American Folk Art in Manhattan.

Pamela Dalton Paper Cutting

The bulletin board directly beside my drafting table is covered with images that never fail to inspire: paintings by my two egg tempera teachers, a picture of my supremely photogenic granddaughter, a list of  Cennini’s requisite ideals for the artist, and Maurice Sendack’s self portrait as a young man.

Pamela Dalton Paper Cutting

These are color copies of the works-in-progress for our next book, Under the Silver Moon, a collection of traditional lullabies. These are far from finished renditions. I’ve been experimenting with background colors, possible borders, and layering of paper for a more three dimensional effect. In the meantime, I take advantage of the pushpins that hold the illustration studies to hold papercuts-in-progress. Never enough room for everything going on in this studio! I also keep a book that contains an ever-growing collection of quotations, poems, prayers and Bible verses that I incorporate in my work.

Pamela Dalton Paper Cutting

My two current favorites hang on this wall: the black and white rendition of the fairy tale The Wild Swans and a forest scene surrounded by butterflies. The cover image from Giving Thanks is also here.

Pamela Dalton Paper Cutting

And by now, the first image I shared has taken on color.

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Want to learn more about Pamela’s process? Check out these:

Pamela Dalton

Pamela Dalton's Scherenschnitte have delighted collectors worldwide for more than twenty-five years. Her work is created in the tradition of early American paper cutting popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch regions of this country in the early nineteenth century.

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