The most basic instrument in the hands of a master can produce awe-inspiring results. For Yorkshire-based artist and printmaker Pippa Dyrlaga (previously), that instrument is a common blade handle equipped with fine point blades. The resulting works of art are incredibly detailed paper cuts of plants, animals, and abstract designs with hand-replicated patterns and variations in line width that give them dimensionality and bring the flat images to life.
Pippa only began paper cutting in 2010, a year before completing her Masters degree in Art and Design and Curation at Leeds Metropolitan University. On finding inspiration and imagery that would work well for her style and craft, Pippa tells Colossal that ideas tend to flow from her surroundings and from other projects. “Most of the time one piece will lead to another, but I sometimes get an idea that I just want to try out, something I have been thinking of for a while. I have always lived in quite inspiring and green places, filled with local wildlife and flora, and much of my inspiration stems from being outside and enjoying it, and feeling like a part of it.”
While all of her pieces are meticulous, Pippa says that apart from a basic layout sketch, not a lot goes into the planning phase. “I prefer the pieces where I work on the design as I am cutting them out! I will have a detail or a general idea of what I want it to look like in my head, and I will create the full image whilst I am working on it, in smaller sections, so it develops quite organically.” For larger pieces that do require some planning, she will sometimes make smaller versions first to see how the details will work. “I quite like not knowing what it will look like until its finished,” she tells Colossal.
As for how those details are achieved, Pippa assured us that the blades and handle are the main weapons in her arsenal. “Papercutting doesn’t require anything fancy,” she said. “The tools are as simple as the medium. The rest is practice!” She does, however, have personal preferences when it comes to the paper she cuts (good quality, acid-free, and from sustainable sources), and there are a few measures taken to ensure that the works stay flat, dry, and away from the harsh sun. “Paper cuts are surprisingly strong,” Pippa said, “but they can’t take much damage so they do have to be handled and stored safely, just like any paper.”
To see more of Pippa Dyrlaga’s work, follow her on Instagram.