Kirigami is similar to origami in that it is a form of paper art. The major difference is that in origami, you fold paper whereas in kirigami, you fold and cut paper.
In the United States, the term "kirigami" was coined by Florence Temko. She used the word kirigami in the title of her book, Kirigami, the Creative Art of Papercutting, 1962. The book was so successful that the word kirigami was accepted as the name for the art of paper cutting.
In Japan, the word kirigami had been in use for a long time because "kiru” means to cut, and “gami” means paper. So, kirigami meant to cut paper.
Most people will remember kirigami as a way to make paper snowflakes. Unfolding the paper snowflake is a delightful surprise because it's almost impossible to make the exact pattern twice. Paper snowflakes have six sections because the paper is folded in half and then thirds.
Real snowflakes have six-fold symmetry too. This is because water molecules crystalize into a hexagonal lattice. No two snowflakes are alike because the condition in a cloud is always changing when water vapour crystallizes into snowflakes. Because of these ever changing atmospheric conditions, each snowflake grows in a different way. Click here for snowflake FAQs. [Photo by KG Libbrecht]
Problem: it’s spring and it just doesn’t feel right to make snowflakes in the glorious growing season. Not a problem! Cut kirigami flowers, sun bursts, stars, hearts, and other cool designs. Look here for some different ideas:
Cutting paper snowflakes is fun, but if you don’t want to use scissors, you don't have to. Computer software experts have now made it possible to make e-snowflakes. It’s not the same as good old "arts & crafts", but it’s worth a try nevertheless.
Beyond Simple Snowflakes
Some artists can make extremely elaborate kirigami patterns. These often retain a high level of symmetry and have a delicate lace-like quality. [Photo from Bekah Gjerde] With a practice, you can make similar creations.
Here are some tips:
Robert Ryan has taken kirigami one step up by layering a paper cut design over top a gown. Definately a one-of-a-kind dress! Other incredible designs can be found in these web sites:
Books available from Amazon.com
3D Kirigami and Origamic Architecture
When paper is cut to make pleasing artwork, it can be called kirigami. Thus pop-up cards, origamic architecture and other elaborate cut-outs can also be called kirigami. This type of artwork is beyond paper snowflakes and deserves to be shown in a separtes page. [Photo by P Callesen]