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kirigami - Heloise Bossard

02 February 2021

Héloïse Bossard and Kirigami : The paper in all its forms

Always attracted by Japan and its culture, designer Héloïse Bossard is passionate about the art of paper cutting, kirigami. An ancestral discipline, with wide acceptance and narrow borders. Meet.

heloise bossard credit photo Sarah Annie photographe

Héloïse Bossard en pleine création. Crédit photo Sarah Annie photographe

An initiatory journey

After a formation in architecture, Héloïse worked in an agency in Paris, where she noticed that the use of computer tools was to the detriment of the creative dimension and contact with the material. The design of mock-ups based on paper or cardboard is replaced by architectural software, and the creative impetus is initiated by the head of the agency. There is no longer any real transformation of the material. Héloïse decides to go to Japan for two months to perfect her mastery of the language, a trip that will last two years. A real emulation in the learning of the language. The designer explores and immerses herself in Japanese culture, in the link between nature and craftsmanship.

An artistic performance inherited from a Japanese tradition

Kirigami – or the art of paper cutting – is a very old technique in Japanese culture. Initially, kirigami was used in the manufacture of kimonos. We cut patterns out of paper soaked in khaki juice before applying them to the kimonos. There are also lightning-shaped kirigamis hanging from Shinto temples.

The kirigami is difficult to define. For example, pop-up cards can be thought of as a form of kirigami.

The artists gradually appropriated the art of paper, transforming this technique into an object of decoration, especially in Asia and in Anglo-Saxon culture.

“In France, it’s a little bit different, we are very Beaux arts”, Héloïse tells us. “It is difficult for certain disciplines to emerge when they are not directly affiliated with the Beaux arts”.

“Today, the art of paper cutting is still too often looked at and understood through the prism of Japanese culture, or otherwise, we quickly fall into monumental performances in paper.”

The art of cutting paper in all its forms

The artist has been practicing kirigami for three years now. Initially, Héloïse worked on paper by  superimposing a multitude of layers of paper of different colors, to form a relief composition.


Au Detour du Papier - paysage d'automne

Au Détour du Papier – paysage d’automne

Au Détour du Papier - renoncules superposition

Au Détour du Papier – renoncules superposition

With the layers of paper stacked on top of each other, the pattern may appear carved out of the paper (ranonculus) or in a stepped shape (landscape in autumn).

Volumetry, the pattern appears in 3D:


Au Detour du Papier - lotus 3D

Au Détour du Papier – lotus 3D

The idea of ​​paper lace came to her as she mastered the handling of paper and its weight.

“The final rendering of paper lace is often more extraordinary”, says Héloïse “and there is a more meditative dimension in the creation’s process than in that of the superposition of layers of paper”, she adds.



However, paper lace involves working in monochromes (with just one color). Sometimes, she misses the colors, and the designer therefore imagines to develop a collection of illustrations of superimposed layers of paper to find the pleasure of the harmony of colors, through different ranges of color shades.

Au Detour du Papier - renoncules superposition detail

Au Détour du Papier – renoncules superposition – détail

A surgeon’s precision

Paper lace requires a great deal of attention to detail and concentration, like a surgeon in the middle of an operation.

Impossible for the paper artist to listen to a podcast or a French song in the middle of a scalpel cutting session. If by any chance she ever slipped after having cut and scalped her paper for hours, it would be a real despair.

Today, Héloïse knows what paper weight is best suited to the type of production expected and she is less afraid of a fateful slip.


Au détour du papier - Papillon Isabelle en papier découpé

Au détour du papier – Papillon Isabelle en papier découpé

Nature as inspiration, time as an ally

Generally, it is from a theme such as the cabinet of curiosities, which the designer will then decline, that her motif is born. Drawing inspiration from the living world, from a photograph or from a document, then transform and create, using all the richness that paper offers as a material, this is the whole project of Au Détour du Papier. Time is her best ally. Independent, the designer can now take the necessary gestation time for the emergence of her creations.

The cyanotype, a process subjected to sunlight

Héloïse discovered this technique a little by chance which allows her a magical reproduction of cutout lace. This is an alternative photography process, a fairly old technique invented in 1852. The paper lace works like a stencil on the white paper backing. This is coated with an emulsion.

As it dries, the paper turns yellow, we put the paper lace and why not plants, everything is exposed to sunlight. The emulsion reacts, burns and gives a brown-green tint to the paper. The stencil is removed and the color which changes from brown-green to Prussian blue or cyan blue is rinsed.


Au Détour du Papier - Cyanotype

Au Détour du Papier – Cyanotype

Don’t expect to see a cyanotype of a color other than blue!

Subject to the intensity of the sun’s rays, cyanotyping is a seasonal activity. Héloïse carries them out from April to October.

“What I like about this process is that there is always a part of unknown in the result obtained due to the distribution of the emulsion on the paper support or to the thickness of the plants. The intensity of the burn is different from one creation to another “.

Heloise Bossard

Heloïse Bossard – Au détour du Papier

Find the universe of Heloise and her creations on the page her dedicated page.




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