Kirigami – The Art of Paper Cutting

Cutting Paper

Kirigami – The Art of Paper Cutting

Author: Amanda Ilkov | Published: November 2, 2020 | Updated: December 8, 2020

The ancient art of cutting paper, kirigami is the delicate, ornate cousin of origami.

Most people (certainly most crafters) would know what origami is, but how about kirigami?

Remember making paper snowflakes when you were a kid? You would start by folding up some construction paper, use your safety scissors to cut chunks out of the paper along the folds, and then carefully unfold it to see what sort of snowflake you made? That’s a good example of basic kirigami.

    What is Kirigami?

    Kirigami comes from the Japanese words for "cut paper", with "kiri" meaning "cut" and "gami" meaning "paper".

    The art is a variation of Origami (from the Japanese words "ori" meaning folding, and "gami" meaning paper), which is the ancient art of folding paper. [4]. While origami constructs shapes with folded paper only, kirigami allows artists to use cuts as well as folds. Neither art form allows the use of adhesives like glue or tape.

    Projects range from relatively simple snowflakes (we all made a version of this in elementary school, I'm sure!) to unbelievably complex pieces of like these paper cut microorganisms.

    This potentially complex art has even caught the attention of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. [1] The note that researchers from Harvard created a computer program which can create virtually any shape using kirigami's folding and cutting methods. [2]


    History of Kirigami - Where'd It Come From?

    Although we in North America typically think of paper folding as a Japanese art, it has also existed for centuries in Chinese cultures. The Chinese version of paper folding is known as zhezhi. [3]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Temko. Florence Temko is credited with popularizing origami in the United States.


    Examples of Kirigami Art

    Kirigami can create a really diverse range of final products. There are simple, symmetrical shapes for beginners, all the way up to incredibly complex paper interpretations of real micro-organisms made by Rogan Brown. There really is no limit to what you can create with this art form.

    I poked around the web to find a few interesting finished pieces. Have a look at the examples below!

    Simple Kirigami Snowflake
    Simple Kirigami Snowflake

    Simple Kirigami Snowflake

    This pretty paper snowflake is a great example of a simple kirigami shape. It was made by folding and cutting a single sheet of paper.

    See His Post

    Kirigami Flowers

    Pippa Dyrlaga is a paper cutting artist from England. Her stunning hand cut pieces are full of beautiful, intricate detail.

    More from Pippa
    Pippa Dyrlaga Kirigami
    Photo Credit: Pippa Dyrlaga
    Pippa Dyrlaga Kirigami
    Kirigami Octopus
    Photo Credit: Riyo Fukuda
    Kirigami Octopus

    Paper Octopus by Riyo Fukuda

    Japanese kirigami artist Riyo Fukuda takes much of his inspiration from animals. His sea creatures, like this kirigami octopus, are particularly impressive.

    See Riyo's Work

    Science Inspired Art by Rogan Brown

    Rogan Brown is an artist from Ireland who blends his love of microbiology with art. His intricate works of art reflect the complexity of real micro-organisms.

    Read the Interview
    Rogan Brown Kirigami
    Photo Credit: Rogan Brown
    Rogan Brown Kirigami

    Supplies You'll Need


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    Photo Credit:
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    Gather Your Supplies

    You only need a few things to start learning kirigami. You'll need some paper (any kind will do), a pencil and a sharp craft blade.

    Try It Yourself

    If you're interested in trying kirigami yourself, you're in luck. It costs very little to begin learning the craft, and start making your very own kirigami art. The big investment here is time. It definitely requires lots of practice - and patience!


Reference Source Citations

The following links are to provide reference information for the sources cited in the post content above.


    1. Kirigami Tutorial for Engineers

    Cited: 11/04/2020

    Michael Abrams, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    New York, NY, United States, Published: 01/28/2020

    2. Programming Shape Using Kirigami Tessellations

    Cited: 11/04/2020

    Gary P. T. Choi, Levi H. Dudte & L. Mahadevan, Nature Research
    London, UK, Published: 09/19/2019

    3. Chinese Paper Folding

    Cited: 11/04/2020

    Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation
    San Fransisco, California, United States

    4. Kirigami

    Cited: 11/04/2020

    Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation
    San Fransisco, California, United States

    5. Origami

    Cited: 11/04/2020

    Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation
    San Fransisco, California, United States

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