Kaleidoscopic stencil patterns -- look at these vibrant colours! By Kanako Yaguchi.

Kanako Yaguchi’s Kirigami: Delightful Forms of Cut Paper

Flowers, leaves, and snowflakes are just some of the stenciled nature that make up the patterns of kirigami. But the intrigue lies in how exactly these delicate shapes come to life on paper. Especially when we remember the many piles of paper-scraps we produced as kids that didn’t come close to these beauties! Today PingMag talks to Kanako Yaguchi, who brings the art of classic cutting paper techniques to another level with her funky textile patterns and clothing and accessory designs.

Written by Ryoko
Translated by Kevin Mcgue

How did you first start designing with paper cuttings?

When I was an art school student, I was always thinking I would like to make something in order to hold a solo exhibition. Probably for that reason, I was consciously searching for something I could do. But there was nothing that I was especially skilled at. There were a lot of people around me who were doing painting and design so well, but I felt it was hard for me to express myself doing the same thing that other people were doing. Then one day, I found someone playing around with paper cutting designs. And I gave it a try myself!

Kanako Yaguchi’s solo exhibition: fashion and accessories with lovely paper cutting designs.

So that is how you discovered it?

Yes. I really just casually tried it out and found that it suited me somehow. That is all really. (Laughs)

From her exhibition at Seikatsu Kobo Gallery in Setagaya, Tokyo: trees, birds, and other works with a forest motif.

Your solo exhibitions mostly feature works from paper cutting designs. How about showing only paper cutting pieces?

That is something that I am working on right now. I think the usual order would be to create paper cutting designs first, and then later hold an exhibition of works based on those designs. However I am doing the opposite!

A small case in vibrant purple, with a nice cut paper design.

How did you start creating clothing and accessory patterns in the first place?

I just thought that it is nice to make things you can touch, and wear close to your body. And it is something nice for the people to have. But once at one of my exhibitions, one of the visitors said, “Oh, the designs where taken from paper cutting art!” When I heard that, I realised I had been wrong about my method. I rethought my approach, and now, along side the clothing and accessories, I create pieces with designs also.

A tank top with a nice print: Yaguchi dyes almost all of the material she uses herself! And on the right, a beautiful yukata with a printed flower motif.
In the making: paper cutting to be used for printed motifs.

Also, you published a book about paper cutting art last year?

I was happy to get the offer to work on a book and made some paper cutting art for close up shots that were used for it. In one chapter entitled Gentle Cut Paper: Analog Voyager, I introduce how to make paper cutting art. The rest of the book features paper cutting using a travel theme.

And do you like travelling yourself?

When I was young, my parents took me on trips to a lot of places, so I really love travelling now. When I was in college, a friend and I went to America twice and travelled around Europe twice. But we spent most of the time walking around places we didn’t know, talking to people we didn’t know, and looking for a place to stay for the night. (Laughs) I learned a lot for that kind of travelling.

Two of Yaguchi’s books, Japanese edition, which were published this June.

It is wonderful that you made books out of your work. How do you continue creating things?

I think I am probably more clumsy than other people, so maybe I have been able to continue because I simply don’t give up. Of course I sometimes encounter problems, or feel sad… but this becomes part of my motivation, and that might be why I have been able to continue.

Paper cutting grass makes a warm background for this sunset-orange illuminated elephant .

What have you gained by doing your art?

Making work on my own is a limited form of self-expression. However, if someone looks at my work and has an emotional response or tells me his or her thoughts on the piece, that gives me new energy! That is something very important for me, and helps me improve my skills.

A pastel printed tote layered with rainbow snowflakes and the seat of a garden stool covered with paper cutting designs .

What attracts you to paper cutting?

You can create all sorts of patterns. If you just casually give it a try, you will start to see flowers, snowflakes, and so on. It is interesting to see such things in a material that surrounds us every day. When making paper cutting art, there is no way to correct mistakes, and you only have one chance to cut with the scissors. That is challenging, and it is also interesting that no two designs are identical.

Patterns inspired from nature, beautiful!

Finally, what are your next plans?

I mentioned this earlier, but my cheap traveling when I was a student was a very valuable experience for me, and became an important milestone. So I would love to travel in the future, exhibiting my art in different places. When I get a feel of new places, I reflect that in my art.

Kanako Yaguchi, thank you for talking with us! We are sure that all your travel dreams will come true, and please continue your most talented work!

  • naomi

    CUTE!
    i love these paper cutting design. i don’t think i’m passionate enough to do such details work! :P

  • jon

    I love paper cutting and this makes me want to do more!!

  • http://smfoodiecutie.blogspot.com/ Chibs

    Wow…beautiful designs! I have never tried paper cutting but Kanako description makes is so inspiring.

    Lovely article!

  • Anonymous

    This is great, look forward to looking into every area. Thanks for being there.

  • Anonymous

    Lovely. Made my day (which is saying something)

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