Natasha Goodfellow on papercutting

Inspired by the current vogue to ‘make do and mend’, and the family directive that we will only be exchanging homemade gifts this Christmas, I have spent my last two weekends folding, cutting, glueing and generally getting in touch with my inner artiste on a couple of paper-cutting courses at Notting Hill’s excellent Flow Gallery.
It might sound nerdy but paper art is cool. Flow has just dismantled its fabulous Paper Works exhibition, showcasing artists such as Anna King, Tracey Bush and, my favourite, Tamsin Cunningham. And paper-cutter Rob Ryan is all over the media, with news that he is set to transform the visitor centre at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park this winter.
First up was ‘Paper Nature’, led by recent graduate Lizzie Thomas, who instructed us on how to make foldable, 3D paper landscapes. Lizzie’s work is a magical mix of folklore and fairytale, with lots of eerily beautiful trees popping up – sometimes literally. It was great fun, though I’ll need a lot more practice til I reach her level.
The following weekend, Michelle Holden led around 15 of us, including V&A artist-in-residence Mary Butcher, through the intricacies of making paper jewellery. Michelle’s own brooches and neckpieces were stunning – the kind of things that if you wore, everyone would stop and ask where you’d bought them. Sadly, despite Michelle’s expert tuition, my own efforts were considerably less successful, more likely to elicit a sort of stunned, dumbfounded surprise, as people wonder what misguided sartorial sense could have lead to me pinning a half-folded paint chart to my chest.
Looks like this year’s Christmas presents might have to be jam.
Have you tried any creative craft courses? What will you be giving for Christmas presents this year? Post your comments below.

Natasha Goodfellow, deputy editor

Lynn Carr-Woodward, Roadshow reporter, Bletchley July 2009
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