Grandma’s garden has also had its influence on me. My grandma had a vegetable garden, but what I remember most, was the large area of her garden space which was dedicated to flowers. As I recall there were many varieties, but I especially remember the pansies, dahlias, gladiolas, and the snapdragons. The snapdragons were amazing – so velvety to the touch, and if you pinched gently, each little blossom would open. I’m certain that my love of flowers came from watching Grandma tend her flowers with loving care. I not only love to see flowers outside and inside a home – it has overflowed into my love of flowers in other mediums such as fabric and other art forms such as paper tole.
3-D paper tole is the art of creating dimensional pictures by layering cut out sections of the same image on top of each other. It is believed to have started in Venice in the 17th century but by the 18th century was a lost art. It re-emerged in the 1970’s and is now more refined with greater dimensional effects. Though it stems from decoupage, a paper craft involving cut pieces of paper shellacked onto wooden furniture and other objects, paper tole has re-emerged over the years in several different forms.
Paper tole, also known as three-dimensional decoupage, is the art of handcrafting three-dimensional pictures from flat prints. This is a fun and easy way to make 3-D effects with your favorite pictures and prints. This art is created by skillfully cutting, shaping, sculpturing and gluing cutouts obtained from identical prints, and assembling these components using silicone, to create a 3-D picture. Though there are a number of ways to use paper tole, one of the most popular is to frame the image in a deep wall frame and display it as wall art. People often employ the same techniques used in making paper tole when creating handmade greeting cards and other paper crafts.
The techniques used in paper tole are specific and quality projects involve specific skills. Precise cutting with no tattered or cracked edges is the key to creating the pieces that are reassembled onto the project. The basic tools needed for beginning a project include a precision cutting tool such as an Exacto® knife, a cutting mat, a series of 5 identical prints, silicone, and glue. There are many more tools that can be used to create advanced projects.
Assembly requires patience while the artisan carefully attaches the separate pieces onto the print. An understanding and knowledge of perspective are also an important skill. After cutting, shaping, sculpturing and gluing, the pieces are painted with a clear finish coat and left to dry. When the picture is finished, it is then mounted and framed. Learning paper tole takes time and attention to detail along with patience but is very interesting.
Once the technique is learned, it’s easy to make paper tole pictures. The pictures themselves are not expensive, but the matting and framing could become very pricey depending on the type of material chosen for the frame, the number of mats, and the size, of course.
When I took my course on learning how to do paper tole, my first picture was that of a poppy. Imagine my surprise to find the exact picture online!
Many arts and crafts centers offer classes for both beginning and intermediate level artists. Projects can range from basic, such as a single flower, to extremely detailed and layered scenes such as landscapes. Buildings, people, animals, birds, flowers, and nearly any other image imaginable can be crafted in this art form. I find pictures of flowers to be fairly easy to assemble and would recommend this for beginners. Bird and animal pictures require a feathering technique, so would be best left for a more experienced crafter.
In addition to classes, there is an abundance of books available that demonstrate paper tole through explicit instructions and photos. Now we also have access to the Internet and Google and there are a wide variety of excellent videos that show the process.
I am so glad that I spent many childhood days with my grandmother and observed her tending to her plants. It’s given me a basic appreciation for flowers and color which I’ve extended to include art forms such as paper tole.
Sew Perfect Stitches