Our August Artist of the month goes to US artist Hazel Glass, a true paper artisan who's distinct style utilises countless layers to create a magical depth to her mesmerising paper art.
Full name: Hazel Glass
"Paper is commonplace, overlooked, disposable. A wallflower. So when it becomes the star, there is a sparkle of delight in the viewers eye, because they appreciate this sudden twist you've pulled on them. They blow their nose with paper and throw out parking tickets on paper. How were they to know such a simple thing could blow them away?."
Where do you make your paper Art?
All of my work, from the hand cut originals to the laser cut editions, is made in my home studio in Portland, Oregon.
How long have you been working with paper?
My first official paper art piece was an artist book I made in 2012. But I didn't begin my true paper art journey until spring of 2015.
How would you describe your approach to paper art?
I've been calling my work Paper Strata Art from day one, which I think reveals that I've always worked in layers. Regardless of whether my design is abstract or representational, the texture created by stepping down each sheet like strata of the earth is fundamental for me. Working small and intricate is essential as well. I like to give the viewer a precious window into the otherworldly that they can hold in their hand. But the thing I spend the most time on, is actually color. While most people focus on my handcutting technique, the secret success of a piece lay on the shoulders of the palette.
Where do you find inspiration?
I have a few different styles, and consequently, a few very different sources of inspiration. But they can be summarized into two main categories. The first is ornate decorative design: Art Nouveau, as well as traditional motifs from Islamic, medieval, and Far Eastern tile or illuminated manuscripts. The second are the organic patterns in nature, particularly involving decay. Rusted metal, rotting wood, plant skeletons, stone erosion, etc. But also layers of the landscape, textures of lichen, reflections on moving water. And really it would be unfair to leave out the influence of fairytales on my work. Frankly I have too much inspiration and not enough time!
What are your favourite papers to work with?
The most enjoyable to hand cut are Awagami Shin Inbe, and text weight Papersource. But I adore cover weight Keaykolour for lasercutting. I think with everything considered-- ease of cutting, structural stability, and color options, Canson Mi-teintes and Fabriano Tiziano may be tied for the winner. Ironically they were the papers I started with, and they would still be my desert island papers.
What tool could you not live without?
I'm inclined to say my Excel blades. But in truth, it would be my color swatches. I have cut with many sorts of blades. However my process (and resulting artworks) would suffer the most if I didn't have my paper swatch collection to figure out my palettes. I must have close to a thousand swatches by now. If you asked my partner, he'd tell you that it's out of control.
What is the best thing about working with paper as a medium?
People don't see paper coming. An exquisite piece of paper art is akin to an usher at an opera hopping on stage to deliver the standing ovation aria. Paper is commonplace, overlooked, disposable. A wallflower. So when it becomes the star, there is a sparkle of delight in the viewers eye, because they appreciate this sudden twist you've pulled on them. They blow their nose with paper and throw out parking tickets on paper. How were they to know such a simple thing could blow them away?
Who are your favourite paper artists?
Before I joined Instagram a few years ago, I had no idea there were so many paper artists in the world. I only knew of a handful. Now I'm overwhelmed by the range and talent I see. A very brief and by no means comprehensive list of favorites would include: the narrative shadowboxes of Daria Aksenova; the organic patterns by both Elisa Mearelli and Amy Genser; the sculpted book excavations of Brian Dettmer; and the adventurous lightboxes of Hari & Deepti.
What are you working on at the moment?
I never know how to answer this question, since I always have so many projects going at once. Today I cut out the latest piece in my fantastical Paper Tokens series, and have been editing photos. I'm also developing a new technique using an embossing stylus for my organic abstracts. And if I'm being honest, I'm also actively procrastinating on the final draft of the fairytale for my latest artist book. It's riding in the back of my mind though, so I'll have to get to it very soon!