Manually cutting teeny tiny pieces of paper, some no wider than an eighth of an inch, is a v-e-r-y time consuming chore. But it's unavoidable when these microscopic bits form the basis for my latest designs, a limited edition collection of mosaic themed jewelry. After hours bent over my worktable with scissors in hand, suffering hand cramps and eye strain, I kept thinking there has to be a better way.
And lo, it turns out there is! I vaguely remembered seeing a collage once in which a square "window" had been made on one of the papers. The description had said something about a paper punch being used to to create the opening. Hmmmm.....With a perfectly square piece of paper I could easily mark off tiny strips from it with precision, then cut them easily with a scissors. So off I went to Michaels, where I snagged a manual paper punch for $6 --- 40 percent off the regular $10 price with a coupon. It makes 1 1/2 inch square paper "tiles."
Let the fun begin! Brought it back to the studio and started punching papers like there was no tomorrow. Hand painted deli papers, stained tissue papers, origami papers, found pages from old catalogs ... the punch turned out dozens perfectly proportioned little "tiles" in just minutes. OMG I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! (I can hear you scrapbookers chortling and rolling on the floor laughing your heads off at my ignorance. You've probably been using these devices since the last Ice Age but this fantastic little gadget is totally new to me!)
Anyway, now a huge pile of little paper squares in all different colors and patterns is sitting on my worktable. It's a heady feeling. Oh, the many, many possibilities! When I look at the mosaic beads I've been making, like the one below, I begin to realize just how much this tool is going to revolutionize my work process.
Without a punch, a bead like this takes me two hours to make. It demands endless measuring to cut each paper strip as straight as possible with a scissors. The punch does away with the most tedious and difficult part, which is cutting the small starter "tiles" with absolutely precise 90 degree angles so all subsequent cuts made from them are straight. Even though I've been using a plastic square to measure, the extremely small scale made it very difficult to get it right. The square would shift slightly or I'd fail to keep the marking pencil pressed firmly against its edge. This resulted in many a do-over. And made it one heckuva slow, inefficient way to make the beads. But now all that has been eliminated. So break open the champagne! Release the balloons! Let's celebrate liberation from drudgery! Let's toast whoever invented the paper punch! Whoo-hoo!!!
Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards