The art of papercutting

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Charlotte Harding finds out from a Worthing woman about how a hobby turned into something more.

We have all been there, you go on a webpage, like or are tagged in something on social media and you notice similar things popping up as recommended posts.

And while many of us will just ignore them, for Catt Cleaver it saw her take on a new hobby which has blossomed into a business.

“I bought my sister-in-law a card with a panda on,” she recalls.

“She took a picture of it and tagged me on Facebook and for some reason it generated a recommended post of Papercut Panda.

“I had a look at what she did and was really intrigued, so I bought a starter kit and got hooked.”

A layered papercut

A layered papercut

Papercut Panda was started in 2010 when Louise Firchau started to create typographical lyrical papercuts from recycled paper. Her business has since grown to include the starter packs, books featuring hints and tips and templates and selling her own pieces.

Catt has been creating and selling papercuts under Catt and Kaboodle for the last three years, but works full time as an accountant.

“I did an interior design course and have always been creative and arty,” explains Catt, who lives in Worthing.

“I have always done something be it embroidery or papercuts, it is a nice release for me. I’ve always had hobbies and made things but the papercuts have really taken off.”

Since Catt started papercutting, the art of doing it has become popular thanks to people like Papercut Panda, Poppy’s Papercuts and Rob Ryan.

There has also been an increase in the amount of templates for sale so people can recreate pieces at home.

Catt uses a mix of templates already available such as the original illustrations from Alice in Wonderland, to her own drawings and using photos.

“For the layered animal papercuts I use photos,” she explains.

“I used to use the photo and draw each layer out but I have since found some software which you can load the picture into and it creates the parts for you.

“Most of the ones I do are A4 but I created an elephant about A3 size and that took me about 70 hours from start to finish.”

Alongside the prints she sells, Catt also takes on commissions, creating pieces for people for birthdays, weddings, new homes and new babies.

“I have someone who has come back to me about 10 times,” she explains.

“I like to have about a months notice but I have turned stuff around in a matter of days before but I prefer to take my time.”

With intricate detail Catt admits that many people assume her work are lasercuts, this is where a machine is used to cut the materials.

“I have to always tell people that everything I do is done by hand,” she says.

“I wouldn’t even know where to start with those machines. I think I am going to start doing videos showing me cutting by hand so people can see exactly what I do.”

For anyone thinking of doing papercuts, Catt says the starter kits are a great place to start as they include everything you need including basic shapes, surgical blades, the knives, mat and pre-printed templates for people to build their confidence.

“As my confidence has built up so have the prints I do,” she adds.

“I thought I picked it up pretty much straight away, but I look back at the first ones I did and I thought there were good but I look back at them now and cringe. I think it probably took me about six months before I would have created anything that I could sell on. The more confident you get, the better the papercuts.”

As a creative outlet outside of her nine to five, Catt says she loves what she does and looking to the future may even start selling her own template. She is surely one to watch on the papercut scene.

For more information and to see Catt’s work you can ‘like’ her Facebook page - or visit her Etsy store -

This first featured in the July edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.