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Karen Bit Vejle was born in Denmark in 1958 and has lived in Trondheim, Norway since 1985. In her early career she was employed as a journalist at Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. and worked a number of years as a project manager for one of Norway’s most successful TV series, NRK1-TV. Bit made paper cuts as a secret hobby and hid all her paper cuts underneath her rugs for nearly 40 years. In 2008, a colleague found them by accident and brought them to light. In November 2008, Bit’s first show opened at The National Museum of Decorative Arts in Norway. Since then, her traveling exhibition “Scissors for a Brush” has been touring prominent museums in Scandinavia garnering considerable public attention.
Type of art you are involved in: Psaligraphy – the art of paper cutting
Location: Trondheim, Norway
1. How do you use Fiskars Orange Handled Scissors in your creations?
I create images of paper and negative space from a large, continuous piece of paper that is folded one, two or three times, and then cut using only my Fiskars scissors. Every cut is carefully planned, as the slightest mistake can have disastrous consequences for the finished result.
2. What is your best scissors advice?
When cutting, keep the scissors still and let the paper move between the blades. Let the scissors show you the way through the paper.
3. Describe your creative style in three words or less.
Magical paper cuts
4. When did you start paper cutting, and how has your style changed since then (if at all)?
As a child, I fondly remember sitting at the kitchen bench in my childhood home in Denmark cutting Christmas and Easter decorations with my family. During the Danish Easter tradition, children cut out small paper cuttings adorned with the first signs of spring – snowdrops, as we call them. I loved to cut out snowdrops and was skilled with scissors. From snowdrops I learned the basic techniques for paper cutting. I learned how all the lines of the paper cut are linked to each other in an intricate and complex network. You have to keep a close eye on what you’re doing, because if you cut the wrong way, the whole thing will fall into pieces!
Until I was 16, I thought paper cutting was only something done for holidays. But one beautiful summer day in Tivoli Park in Copenhagen, I saw a man sitting in the sun cutting out paper silhouettes with motifs I had never before seen. I was enraptured, and stood there staring, watching the man as he maneuvered his scissors to produce the most beautiful little paper cutting. I was so taken with the idea that I went right home and got my mother's sewing scissors, and I have never let them out of my sight since.
I have always listened to music while I work, and find a natural cutting rhythm that follows the music’s repetition and themes. My early work bears testimony to my desire to replicate the structure and intricacies of music, but my later works are more contemplative.
5. On average, how long does it take you to complete one project?
My biggest projects take six months or more and smaller projects take 20 – 30 days.
6. Describe your paper cutting process from idea generation to execution.
For me there is something magical about paper cutting. My heart and soul are at peace when I have the scissors in hand and the paper dances between the blades.
Before I cut, I determine what paper I should cut away and what paper I should leave. I have to do this many times so the entire paper cut is planned in my head. It is like playing chess. I know the first step, but each step depends on the last step. When I have finished the “map” in my head, I draw support lines and then I cut.
At the start of the day I put on rock and roll music to get inspired – some Queen or Beatles. For the rest of the day, when I get into the work zone, I put on classical music. My favorite classical is Yo-Yo Ma (cello). He is fantastic!
Psaligraphy is a slow and time-intensive affair, but I enjoy every minute of it, and time spent with my Fiskars scissors and paper has become my catharsis! My hope is to touch my audience just a little bit. I want each person to be able to find some encouragement, hope, or inspiration in my artwork.
7. What is your favorite Fiskars tool?
Fiskars Embroidery Scissors
Biography: Karen Bit Vejle was born in Denmark in 1958 and has lived in Trondheim, Norway since 1985. In her early career she was employed as a journalist at Norwegian Broadcasting Corp. and worked a number of years as a project manager for one of Norway’s most successful TV series, NRK1-TV. Bit made paper cuts as a secret hobby and hid all her paper cuts underneath her rugs for nearly 40 years. In 2008, a colleague found them by accident and brought them to light. In November 2008, Bit’s first show opened at The National Museum of Decorative Arts in Norway. Since then, her traveling exhibition “Scissors for a Brush” has been touring prominent museums in Scandinavia garnering considerable public attention.