Artist Emma Daniels is good on paper
PUBLISHED: 10:54 30 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:54 30 December 2014
"When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I cut holes in paper."
This is the rather simplified way that Emma Daniels describes her art. Papercutting is, indeed, cutting holes in paper with a scalpel, but this description doesn’t cover the skills and patience needed to do the work.
Emma mostly produces commissioned papercuts featuring “text and simple images that make people happy” – most often work for weddings.
“I get a lot of requests for one-year anniversary items as well – the traditional gift is paper!” At her home studio in Ipswich, she also produces papercuts for birthdays, births and other occasions. Some bulk pieces are made with the aid of a laser cutting machine, but at the moment Emma is focusing on hand-cut commissions, incorporating personal details into the work.
“I ask the customer for favourite things or in-jokes and try to include them. I’ve put a tiny frog in the corner before for one couple, as it was personal to them.”
The popularity of Emma’s art mirrors the appeal of papercut art in general, yet only a few years ago most people hadn’t heard of it.
Indeed, neither had Emma before her second year of university where she was given the task of “mark making” on paper without using a pen or pencil. She chose to cut out shapes with a scalpel.
“I loved the detail I could make, but also the fact that it was plain and simple.” During the rest of her time at Norwich School of Art she focused on papercutting, and was lucky enough to work with Rob Ryan, possibly the most famous papercutter of all and a pioneer of the art.
“He was so friendly and lovely,” she says. “He played old fashioned reggae in his studio.” By the end of her work experience with him Emma knew she wanted to pursue papercutting as a career.
Although Emma lives and works in Ipswich, she grew up in the countryside of the Shotley Peninsula, the beauty of which inspires her work.
“Suffolk is lush and beautifully left to grow. I love hollyhock, cowslip and flowers that look like they have been growing there for generations. I feature hollyhocks a lot in my work.
“I’m inspired by people’s happy places. I’m fascinated by how people collect and surround themselves with things they love and find comforting.”