Upon first glance, this hand-cut artwork looks so detailed— you could easily mistake it for a fine-tipped ballpoint pen painting or drawing.
The traditional art of paper cutting from a single sheet of paper is known as Kirie, in Japanese, which also means ‘cut picture.’ This artwork involves cutting a single sheet of white paper to create elaborate figures or shapes.
For you to become a skillful Kirie artist, you need steady hands and tremendous patience. The art demands time-consuming detailing, combined with tremendous creativity.
After the cutting process, you then place the creation against a dark background to reveal the cutout.
Fukuda, a Japanese artist, has been practicing Kirie for more than 25 years and has recently revealed what she believes to be her best creation, an incredible life-sized paper octopus.
“For me, cutting pictures has become a way of dissipating all the stress of my daily life. If you want to get started, all the basics you need are tant paper, a cutter, matte, and a good light source.”
One glance at this piece and you’ll think it’s a drawing on a black canvass using a fine-tipped pen— it’s somehow hard to believe that this cutout of an intricate, life-size octopus is cut from a single sheet of paper.
Various textured sections look like parts of delicate patterned lace. For instance, tentacle suckers that resemble ornamental doilies or decorative swirling patterns on the head.
This mesmerizing piece celebrates the beauty of an octopus, fascinating species that are known to change their texture and skin color within seconds to match their surroundings.
Fukuda used white A2 paper, perfectly depicting the sea animal’s rounded body, eight long tentacles and bulging eyes.
Living creatures feature prominently in her extensive gallery, which also includes portraits, all elaborately detailed with fine lines.
Each work begins as a finely detailed sketch; afterward, Fukuda uses a precision utility knife to etch away, revealing the final form. This piece took her two months to complete.
While similar arts have evolved in different cultures all over the world, this paper cutting technique is more common in Japan.
Japanese paper cutting is said to have developed after 610 AD when Tesuki Washi paper, invented in China, was brought to Japan by Doncho, a Buddhist monk from Korea. The Japanese commercialized paper making by hand, and by 800AD, the skill was unrivaled.
One unique distinction Kirie shares with other similar artworks is that its pieces are cut from a single sheet of paper. Just like Fukuda’s octopus.