Guild of American Papercutters

 founded 1988

Books and Starter Kits

Many papercutters are self-taught and started by cutting out simple pre-printed patterns.  Books on the subject of papercutting provided inspiration, historical perspective, and samples.  Of course, GAP members also have access to an archive of past Gap publications that provide a wealth of information and examples of various types of papercutting from many different countries.

A wide variety of commercial papercutting patterns are available for use, whether you are a beginner or advanced cutter.  The resources below are only a small selection of those now available in the market place but have been recommended by our members.

Papercuttings by Allison:

Book Resources at The GAP National Museum

Anyone who visits the GAP National Museum at the Laurel Arts Dressler Center in Somerset, PA will find a selection of 50 books on papercutting located in the main office.  This collection of books is a perfect complement to the second floor gallery exhibits.  Although the books cannot be "signed out", visitors may examine them while visiting the museum.  Just sign the log for a volume or two and find a quiet place to peruse the contents.  Among the books, you will find volumes on early Pennsylvania German Fraktur, traditional Jewish paper cuttings, colorful Polish forms, contemporary American and European examples, and even how-to books for cutting things like snowflakes.  Volumes in foreign languages and rare, out-of-date texts are available by pre-arranged appointment. 

Books dedicated primarily to the art of papercutting range from how-to texts and collections of easy-to-cut templates, to books on the history of papercutting and its numerous regional variations around the world.

The following books have been recommended by GAP members:

Cut Up This Book by Emily Hogarth, published by Running Press in 2012.  This is a book you can literally cut up.  It has 50 colorful project templates and is a complete guide to cutting paper for art works, greeting cards, keepsakes and more.  It contains a brief history of paper cutting, instructions on tools and materials needed, as well as different technique ideas.  This is a great book for beginners and inspirational for advanced paper cutters as well.

In the Midst of Chaos, Peace by Sister Wendy Beckett, illustrated with silhouette paper cuts by Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, and published in 1999 by Ignatius Press.  This book is a result of Pope John Paul II's letter to artists to promote  the Catholic faith through "artistic evangelization".  This beautiful art book is filled with visual and spiritual meditations accompanied by 54 wonderful silhouettes.

Mastering Silhouettes by Charles Burns published in 2012 by Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.  A comprehensive book covering all forms of silhouette art using profiles of famous silhouette artists and their particular methods and styles.  Projects are included to allow students to learn and practice the forms of silhouettes illustrated by the artists.  One oddity:  there is no mention of Etienne de Silhouette, who gave his name to this art form.

New Crafts Paper Cutting by Stewart and Sally Walton (2014).  This stylish and delightful book contains complete step-by-step instructions for 25 practical projects, plus a brief guide to equipment and materials.  It includes an introduction to the craft and its varied history, as as well as examples of the finest contemporary paper cutting.

Paper Crafts Around the World by Phyliis Fiarotta and Noel Fiarotta published in 1996.  This is an excellent craft book for children that provides information and instructions for many craft projects from different countries.  Some projects require more than scissors and glue.  The book is divided into 11 chapters:  Paper, Pictures, Geometric Cuts, Mirror Images, Accordion Folds, Creative Folds, Slits, Strips, Roll-ups, Sticks, and Constructions.

Papercutting: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft by Claudia Hopf.  This beautiful book contains a fabulous history of papercutting, tools needed, cutting techniques and tips, patterns, and a gallery of designs.

Scherenschnitte by Susanne Schlaepfer-Geiser, published in 1994 in German and 1996 in English.  Considered a classic, this book provides both a thorough overview of materials and techniques and a history of the art covering the primary countries in which papercutting has become popular.  The book contains many examples of wonderful pieces created by the author and some of the most famous papercutters in history.

Scherenschnitte - An Old World Craft Comes Alive, a Can Do Crafts book by Carole Behrer, copywrite 2000.  This booklet contains a brief history, plus tools, supplies, instructions, and tips for dozens of designs for cutting pictures, cards, and ornaments.  Included are single-fold, 3-D, no fold, two fold and three fold designs.  Also provided are ideas on how to add color to the designs and instructions for wood graining frames and how to frame and mount finished artwork.

The Beginner's Guide to Chinese Paper Cutting by Zhao Ziping, published in 2012 by Shanghai Press.  Great for beginners, this bnook contains numerous beautiful, original designs, and detailed projects and explanations.  Interestingly, the author indicates the order of cuts for each exercise and almost all use red paper as employed traditionally in China.

The Book of Paper Cutting by Chris Rich, published in 1994.  A complete guide to all the techniques and to the history of paper cutting from around the world.  It contains more than 100 projects and ideas with how-to instructions.

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