I’m a paper cutting artist based in London. I usually make maps by hand with a blade, and create really interesting pieces of location specific minimalist art. I love to run my fingers over them because they’re so tactile and it feels like you can touch the bones of the city. With paper cut maps however this is a destructive act in the long term, because it degrades the paper and the cuts make it more prone to tearing. I wanted to create maps you could run your fingers over endlessly. So I worked out a method to emboss paper maps in my studio. Like cities themselves, they’re a bit hard to see all at once and if you shift the perspective you get a different view.
The process is straightforward, if time-consuming. I use open source maps to lay out the roads on my computer, and get a sense of how the final map will look. I then print and trace the map onto a piece of thick card and cut out the holes in various sizes to create the template. I use a scalpel to cut out the text and borders as I would with my usual work. Then using a light board and a piece of paper I push the paper into each cut out, individually, by hand, to create the blind embossing. The type and texture of the paper adds different dimensions to the texture. The template takes the longest to draw and create but each map itself takes several hours to emboss, but when they’re set up against and around different light sources, they look fantastic.
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I use circle punches and a scalpel to cut out the template
It takes a long time
One square mile of New York City around the Village. (you can see my hand for scale)
The angle gives you a sense of how the light changes
The raised dots cast shadows depending on the light source
When the light is above, the effect is very subtle
Paris around the Arc de Triompe and the Champs-Élysées
A Change in lighting highlights different aspects
Paris from an angle
Paris (12in sq / 30cm)
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