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Papel Picado 2

18" x 55"

    The traditional process of making papel picado banners begins by drawing a design which becomes the patron or pattern. The pattern is then placed over multiple layers of tissue paper which rest on a thick layer of lead. The artisan then cuts through multiple layers of paper using a mallet to pound finely sharpened chisels of varying sizes and shapes through the paper and into the sheet of lead. The negative spaces must be removed from the design in a manner which allows the image to hang together after cutting. The process of transforming sheets of tissue from a design to a completed paper cut can take 30 or more hours. Like much of the traditional folk arts of Mexico, papel picado is dying out as village artisans abandon the labor-intensive process to find better paying factory jobs in urban centers. In the United States there has been a revival in the paper-cutting arts during the last two decades, primarily within Chicano art circles. A few contemporary artists working in the US have developed techniques of cutting one-of-a-kind papel picado masterpieces using an artist knife and archival grade paper. Simpler forms can be easily prepared at home or in the classroom using tissue paper and scissors. 

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