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A single sheet of paper with a lifetime of stories to tell

Papercut artist Nikki McClure carves the moments of her life using an X-Acto knife and an ancient art form. #k5evening

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Piece by piece, cut by cut, with every book, calendar or greeting card she designs, Nikki McClure is telling a story of human and nature.

"We're very fortunate to be living beings on this planet," McClure said.

From her waterfront home and studio in Olympia, the artist draws inspiration from everything around her. 

"What I've seen and explored and felt being a lifelong resident of this place," she explained.

No detail is too small.

"There's an idea, often comes from walking,"  she said. "My books aren't fantasy books. They're actually things that happened."

She uses her own memories and experiences, moments of beauty or joy, to inspire her intricate papercut art. McClure creates by cutting away.

"I had been cutting valentines and folded cuts," she recalled. "And I would cut, for little kids if I were babysitting, 'Ooo, it's, like, an elephant on top of a gorilla!'"

McClure found freedom in the storytelling.

"This makes sense to me," she said.

And she found focus in the form.

"It's all one connected piece of paper," she explained.

The artist displayed an intricately cut design with all the detail of a complicated ink-and-pen drawing, but composed entirely of a single black sheet of paper. The hundreds of tiny white spaces have each been cut away using an X-Acto knife. 

McClure's experiences, and yours, emerge from those spaces.

"It's definitely my story, but I want there to be room for other people's stories as well," she said. 

The work tells stories of life in all its wondrous detail, what's been cut away, and all the beauty that remains.

"Making a record of my life, my own mark on the world."

McClure's latest book, "1, 2, 3, Salish Sea," as well as prints and calendars, are available for purchase through her website.


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