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.
Pamela to invited us into her studio to give a glimpse of what she’s working on now, and the space that inspires her.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And by now, the first image I shared has taken on color.
– – –
Want to learn more about Pamela’s process? Check out these:
- A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Brother Sun, Sister Moon
- A demo of her exquisite punch-out ornaments
Latest posts by Pamela Dalton (see all)
- The Art of Paper Cutting: A Visit to the Studio of Artist Pamela Dalton - November 19, 2015
3 Tips for Applying to the Chronicle Books Design FellowshipFebruary 13th, 2018
8 Dazzling Books, Games, and Cards for the NASA-ObsessedDecember 14th, 2017
11 Reasons to Use a Typewriter, According to Tom HanksNovember 13th, 2017
Act Now! A Collection of Protest PostcardsNovember 8th, 2017
Challenging the Rectangle: 5 Different Takes on Book ShapesNovember 3rd, 2017