February 11, 2014

Paper Pusher

A couple of weeks ago, I finally took down most of our holiday decorations. (I was hoping that Mother Nature would take the cue and usher in spring early, but she must have missed the memo.)

Having to pack up this cute Christmas tree mobile was particularly sad:

Flensted Mobile from lent a cheerful touch to our kitchen/dining area.

Since we don’t use that ceiling hook for hanging fruit baskets, I began a desperate search for a seasonless replacement. It was Wired Magazine’s Gadgets and Gear issue to the rescue! They wrote about the design website Artecnica which carries a small selection of cool, quirky products…including:

Themis Prism Mobile, $40. Yippee! It comes pre-assembled.

The geometric shapes are fairly large and made from sturdy paper.

The shapes peacefully float around.

In case you’re wondering, the yellow and pink discs are thin plastic flowers that I slid onto a couple of the pieces to act as weights. (That’s the extent of my creative DIY skills!)

While browsing that site, I couldn’t resist adding this paper sculpture to my shopping cart too:

“Sweet Home” is by Japanese graphic designer and architect Yusuke Oono. It sits on our mantle until I figure out a permanent location. (The packaging included a simple hanging system to convert it into a mobile.)

It’s a forty-panel booklet made of laser-cut paper. You fan out the pages into a 3-D sculpture.

Half of the booklet is bright pink, the other half is lavender. The pages depict vignettes of domestic life.

A dog, a boy on a scooter, a lamp post, a girl on a swing…I smile at its delicacy and “home sweet home” theme.

You might have noticed I have a soft spot for paper. Maybe it’s a respite from our glowing screens and always-on digital lives. Maybe it goes back to my childhood love of sketching with real colored pencils—we didn’t have apps back in the day.

In further homage to the possibilities of paper, here are some more fantastic creations from artists around the world:

Paper Wear

A female architect from Trinidad made these Carnival costumes from folded paper:

“The costumes are an ephemeral architecture—fragile and mobile.” Photo via

I stupidly missed the exhibition “Prêt-à-Papier” at the Hillwood Museum in DC. It showcased Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave’s re-imagining of exquisite dresses from the 17th through 20th centuries:

The “crumpling, pleating, braiding, and painting the surface of simple rag paper…achieve[s] the effect of textiles and create[s] the illusion of haute couture.” Photo via

 Slinky Heads

Artist Li Hongbo is “known for his unconventional figurative sculptures made from thousands of sheets of flexible paper…” (Fair warning that your jaw will drop when you click on this link.)

Rubbernecking: the artist “has transformed…[paper] to stretch, twist, elongate and retract as if it were a giant slinky.” Photo via

Pulp Conviction

Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar invented a new type of paper pulp as the material for his amorphous sculptures:

A far cry from paper’s mundane, everyday use. Photo via

And if you’re still not completely blown away, check out the documentary “Between the Folds” about the sublime art of origami.

The film features the work of French origami master Eric Joisel who died in 2010. He was “devoted to studying an expressiveness of human nature that you would never think could be elicited from a piece of paper.” Photo via

Actually, it’s more about artists, eccentrics and scientists. And their vision, precision and humanity. All through pressing paper.

Update on March 21, 2014: Here are a couple more whimsical paper creations to behold—sneakers made from cardboard and illuminated paper cut light boxes.

Update on June 16, 2014: Check out T Magazine’s lush compilation of artistic designs made from, or inspired by, paper.

Update on January 16, 2015: I just discovered this list by Design*Sponge of 25 amazing papercut artists, including Lisa Rodden!

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] heiress Petra Ecclestone’s league either. Whether it’s wacky, whimsical, Warholian, or wondrous, my purchases are usually pretty practical too. Yes, my weakness for sweaters often has me […]


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