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Kirié Artist Shiho K. Rice Shows How It’s Done


“So it’s ink on glass?” Not quite. Look closer.

Shiho K. Rice’s pieces in “Quietly Cutting Through” did, in fact, start out as drawings. Then they went under the knife, creating a drawing that uses no ink or pencil at all — just paper and negative space.

The artist graciously agreed to demonstrate the process for us, and you can see the results in the video above. She also told us more about this medium — a traditional Japanese art — and how you can try it yourself, in this Q&A:

How did you first get involved in kirié?
When we moved to Washington, DC from NYC in 2012, to take care of my father-in-law, I was trying to do something small creatively in my free time. So, cutting paper was one of the new media I tried out.

How did you learn how to do it?
Are there other kirié artists who you look up to?

I taught myself kirié.

Since I did not start making art with the kirié technique, my expression or voice isn’t tied to the technique. It just happened that I found kirié and working with paper to be a very good match with me and my style. So, there isn’t any kirié artist that was a big influence on me.

But, if I would pick one artist, that would be Seiji Fujishiro, who is a shadow cutout picture artist. His world is very playful, and makes me happy just looking at his artwork. He is now 91 years old, and still making beautiful artwork. Being able to make artwork for rest of my life and creating playful and happy images are some things I would like to achieve over my lifetime.

What’s your favorite thing about making kirié?
When I found a way to cut the paper as intricate as my drawings, I loved the feeling of my drawings transformed into a paper image. I enjoy drawing, but kirié makes my drawings more fragile and precious. That’s why I started to make kirié my media.

Your least favorite thing?
When I almost see the end of the cutting process, I start to feel sad. Especially when I don’t have any more drawings waiting for me. So, I tend to make a few drawings before I start cutting.

Details from (clockwise from right) One I, Magic Wand, and Hanabi by Shiho K. Rice.
Details from (clockwise from right) One I, Magic Wand, and Hanabi by Shiho K. Rice.
Where do your scenes come from? Do the recurring “characters” of the young girl, bunnies, etc. have a special meaning to you?
My scenes come from observations of daily life, my childhood memories, and my imagination. When those characters are in my drawings, I feel safe and protected like a family. So, they are kind of my guardians.

What kind of knife and paper do you use?
I use an X-Acto knife. I don’t have specific papers I use, but I prefer them to be as thin as copier paper and a similar smoothness.

Do you have any tips for someone who wants to try cut paper art for the first time?
In the demonstration video, I put my fingers in front of the knife. But I would avoid that, because the knife could get caught on the paper or mat, and your hand can slip.

  1. Try not to cut yourself
  2. Start simple
  3. Believe it will work out in the end
  4. Have fun!


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