Cut, Cut, Cut

In June and early July, I took a two-week class in contemporary approaches to the traditional craft of paper cutting at Penland School of Crafts. Penland is only 45 minutes away from Jonas Ridge NC, where I live part time, and I’m fortunate to get a great class rate for locals.

snake handler 1

My first paper  cut (above)

The instructor, New York-based French artist Beatrice Coron, cuts complicated narrative images out of tyvek using an exact-o knife. That’s right—tyvek is the stuff used in building construction. It is also used for products like industrial clothing, envelopes, and non-tear maps. Beatrice exhibits (internationally and prolifically) 2 D works, installations, and wearable art.   She also produces book cover designs, illustrations, and artist’s books. Her large-scale designs are translated into metal; several can be seen  at the Charlotte NC International Airport. For a variety of images, and unique things to buy, you can check out her Web site.

Coron's workHere’s a wall of her work (above). I loved learning her techniques, and Beatrice was an excellent teacher. My designs are still really simple compared to hers, but I love figuring out how to balance positive and negative space in and around silhouettes so when you pick up the piece of tyvek, nothing falls out!

There were a dozen of us in the class. These two pictures show the variety of students’ work and the workspace in this studio (also used for letterpress). The view out the windows is pretty relaxing.

student work

stu work space

Here are a few of the works I made while in the class; sometimes I also worked at home at night.

alligator in progresswork in progress

mask 1

Fourth of July mask (above) When the mouth closes, the eye holes open so you can see.

laugh 1

Laugh (above)  This is a new take on a wood cut image from Lynd Ward’s novel in pictures, “Mad Man’s Drum.”

allig in black 1Summer Fun (above) my reaction to news accounts of sharks off the cost of NC

And here are another couple that I did after the class; they’re not finished. I may use color in the background or I may stick to black, white, gray (India ink) and metallics (spray acrylic).   I’m getting ready to start at least one series using this technique.

Green Egg gremlin

The Big Green Egg Gremlin (above)  only people who love to barbecue will get this

Gold Bug 1

The Gold Bug (above) inspired by an Edgar Allan Poe short story set on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina.  One version will be dark gold on black.

I don’t have pictures of our Penland July 4 parade because I was busy helping carry a banner, but here’s my costume back at home (below). There was a Mad Max jeep driven by a Charlize Theron look alike (good looking, very little hair, axle grease makeup) You get the idea. Only at Penland…..

me in mask 1

About Lillian-Trettin

I grew up in the Appalachian "Bible Belt" of East Tennessee in the southern United States, listening to banjo music and gospel lyrics as well as the Beatles. As a kid, I was curious about religious rituals like speaking in tongues and snake handling but resistant to the fundamentalist thinking they involved. Flannery O'Connor's tales of religious fanatics, con men, bigots, and the spiritually bereft or ambivalent resonate for me. Despite having traveled widely and lived in other places, I am (as so many Southerners claim to be) permanently "South haunted." I returned to making art full time in 2011, following a career as a teacher, researcher, and consultant and after raising two sons. I’m convinced the delay enriched rather than impeded my growth as an artist.
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