A series of brief essays examining the techniques and variations of an art form that is found in cultures around the world. The book is illustrated throughout with dozens of tipped-in cut-paper examples, some being samples from the period or place discussed, others being original pieces created for this project.
In addition to more familiar forms such as the silhouette and collage, there is an original canivet, a card with a border cut to resemble intricate lace; monkiri, a Japanese stencil crest; and Scherenschnitte, a German-style black papercut. Some of the samples are based on existing historical cuts, including a re-creation of a Matisse-style gouaches découpées, painted with Matisse's own palette of Linel gouaches on Arches text wove. Other samples created for this book use traditional cutting techniques to show cuts that may have existed, such as a henna-hand pattern to illustrate paper-cutting from India, a calligraphic cutting of Sultan Suleyman's tughra (or official signature), and silhouettes of profiles cut from black paper and from white (hollow cuts).
The book was designed by Barbara Hodgson, set in Bauer Bodoni, and printed at Black Stone Press on Rives BFK. Each copy is issued in a clamshell box along with a cut-paper facsimile of Bruno Munari's Il Libro illeggibile (originally published in 1953 and recreated by Claudia for this book); an extensive portfolio of original jian-zhi and k’e-chih (Chinese scissor and knife cuts) and monkiri and kirigami (Japanese papercuts); and other original samples such as wycinanki (traditional cuts from Poland) and papel picado (chisel cuts made in tissue paper from Mexico).
The edition of 30 numbered copies, signed by Barbara and Claudia, was issued in two states:
Copies 1–10 bound in full leather and include an additional selection of samples (available to the authors in more limited quantities) laid in.
Copies 11–30 bound in handmade paper over flexible boards, with the titling and various shapes cut from the covering paper, exposing various colored and patterned papers below.