The cutting art

THE sweet peas in Mother's garden fairly glistened in the moonlight. I quickly arose from my bed and, without benefit of robe or slippers, tiptoed down the stairs, out to the back stoop. With pencil and crumpled envelope in hand, words flowed onto the paper - ``Ode to a Sweet Pea.'' Although I did not know at age 8 what an ``ode'' might be, it nevertheless seemed sufficiently impressive to equate with the flowering cascade that all but covered the fence. Through the years I have recognized that midnight hour of long ago as the beginning of a lifetime affair with nature. Flowers are nature's embroidery, and as such I used them in endless ways, working as a designer. Later I painted them in oil, then in watercolor. Could anything be as perfect for the task as those free-flowing aquarelles? Yes, indeed. For me, it was an easy transition from painting to a technique requiring paper, scissors, and paste.

To create ``Red Tulips'' I first cut flowers and buds from a rich red hand-made paper. After careful consideration, I positioned and fastened them to a sheet of watercolor paper with a white paste made especially for this purpose. All the design elements - supporting stems, formal leaves, and fretwork of smaller, delicate stems - were cut with an eye to complement the flowers.

This sifting, shifting, and moving about of the forms at times may be frustrating. But artistic arrangement of the pieces and choice of handsome color are the keys to success. And how exciting it is when the design emerges!

I try to choose flowers with dramatic possibilities.

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