On Making Paper Pooches

Paper Sculpture | Art
By Melissa Ferreira, June 2010, Updated November 2017

Beagle Breakaway & Autumn


On the Couch

One of my job’s delights is sharing special discoveries with you. Take this one, for example. When I received this incredible handmade cut-paper envelope (below) postmarked Pont-Aven, France, I was not only amazed that it had made it to California in one pristine piece, but also by what it contained: more glimpses of enchanting art. So we asked its sender, Melissa Ferreira, to share her work with you—she kindly included charming instructions on how to craft your own cut-paper tableaux.
—Claudia Kawczynska

My ingredients are simple and the process is direct. Take a thin piece of cardboard and cut an oddly proportioned person, pet, plant or prop. Bend and/or twist it. Add masking tape and some scrunched-up paper soaked with white glue to fill out simple forms, be they head, hip, hand or limb. Bend and/or twist again, putting the sticky, damp piece aside, near or on top of an old radiator, for a few hours or days. Take a long stroll, read a book, write a letter, sleep.

The now-dry piece is ready for plastic surgery with a sharp craft knife before more bulking with gluey recycled paper scraps. Let more days pass until the knife returns, in the company of sandpaper, to further shape the figure. Add—chop—let dry. In the meantime, keep busy with comfortable-to-hold sewing scissors by snipping old books into hundreds of letter-sized confetti, squiggly threads, thin strips and leaf shapes that will eventually dress the scene and those in it.

Scenarios evolve bit by bit, characters deciding what they’ll do as they are attached to a lightweight wood support or within shallow box. Build up their world by gluing those tiny snippets with the aid of pointy tweezers and a strong desk light. Finish up with the addition of collars, buttons and whatnots, along with touches of gesso, pencil and ink to add a bit more oomph. Done!

Now head out for another walk.

—Melissa Ferreira

© Melissa Ferreira