Click on photos to see detail of the layering.
Recently I had the opportunity to learn about the fascinating art of paper tole. My friend Daphne Simpson is something of an expert in this craft, and has kindly agreed to explain some of the basics involved in creating one of these three-dimensional pictures made of layered paper.
So let’s begin. Once you find, or create, a picture you like, you’ll need to reproduce approximately fifteen pages of that same picture. With today’s digital colour photocopying machines, this part of the process has become much more affordable.
Place one picture on the mounting board. Then you can begin to build the 3-D picture by cutting out pieces of the picture from your extra copies.
Start with the image that is the farthest away on the page, usually working from the top down, so you don’t damage the paper by touching it with your wrist or leaning on it by accident as you place a piece on the page.
The paper is cut using X-Acto knives or nail scissors depending on what you are cutting. Feathering ( birds), furring (wolves, cats, dogs, etc.), buildings, and flowers all need different techniques using the nail scissors.
As each piece is shaped, color the edges of the paper with watercolour pencils to match so they don’t look white. Then place the piece on the picture using tweezers and toothpicks. It’s a good idea to keep your fingernails a bit long to help hold those tiny pieces of paper. Use clear silicone to attach the shape to its matching location on the original print.
For example: Cut a green leaf using a shaping tool and a soft pad; then color the cut edges with green watercolour pencil; attach the leaf shape onto the page with a dab of clear silicone using tweezers, toothpicks, and fingernails. Always make sure no silicone shows on the picture when you attach each piece. Continue layering to bring depth into your picture.
When the picture is finished, parts of it will have a depth of approximately one and a half inches. Daphne’s picture of the wolf is that deep. The frame is three inches deep. She uses acid-free mat and museum-quality glass so the picture colour will not fade. Most likely Daphne’s pictures will look fantastic for years to come.
After clicking to enlarge raccoon photo, you should be able to click once more to magnify it and see the cuts and shaping of layered pieces.