Updated: Feb 5, 2022
Our February Artist of the month goes to tissue paper artist + illustrator Stacey Elaine who makes delicately layered and intricate paper cuts inspired by a variety of colorful sources.
"The best thing about this medium is its delicate nature."
Where do you make your paper art?
I make my work at my dining room table, surrounded by natural light from windows that look out into my yard. I love watching the birds in the bush right outside the windows. I love feeling like I'm in the heart of my home when I'm making. The downside? Having to put everything- even unfinished works- tucked away safely after each session so my boys have a table for homework, art projects of their own, and dinner! It would be amazing to have a studio space someday, where I could leave in-progress pieces at the ready....but for now, this works just fine.
How long have you been working with paper?
I've been working with tissue paper since 2017, when my youngest was taking long afternoon naps and I felt an overwhelming urge to make things with my hands.
How would you describe your approach to paper art?
My approach to paper art is....sculptural. You wouldn't think tissue paper could be sculptural, but when I'm cutting designs into the delicate layers, I'm doing so with a sculptor's sensibility. How will this curve look? Are these lines interesting? Beautiful? Also, is my depiction of this animal consistent with my personal style and aesthetic? Most of the time, my main focus is making something that is beautiful or interesting to look at. I don't necessarily have any other end goal in mind for a piece when I begin. Some have ended up as greeting cards, some murals, some on textiles, others as framed works of art. I like to create and then let the details sort themselves out later.
Where do you find inspiration?
I'm inspired by so much in nature, but I'm also inspired by how nature has been depicted throughout the centuries by other artists and makers. I find inspiration in global folk art, particularly in India and Mexico. I find it in high-end fashion textiles that appear on runways. I find it in Inuit soapstone sculptures and mid-century wooden figurines. Knowing what I like and am drawn to has helped me fine-tune my own style.
Describe your work to us in three words:
My work is unique, celebratory, and intricate.
What are your favorite papers to work with?
I work exclusively with tissue paper.
What tool could you not live without?
I could not live without my cutting mat and Xacto knife.
What is the best thing about working with paper as a medium?
The best thing about this medium is its delicate nature. I'm so comfortable working with it now, but it took some time to develop the finesse required to work confidently. I think that aspect of my work is what makes it special to my collectors.
Tell us more about your process:
My pieces are created by free-hand cutting designs into layers of tissue paper, which I then arrange and seal down onto heavyweight, hot press watercolor paper using matte Modge Podge. The cutting is the smoothest part for me; the sealing can be quite tedious and I have to be completely focused so as to not use too much liquid glue in any one spot, which would cause the tissue to dissolve and tear.