My Papercutting Favourites

I've been paperctting for 10ish years now and I've got a selection of materials and tools which I like using the most. I often get asked what papers, blade and handles I use so though I'd do a little blog about my favourites!
Obviously this is just my personal choices, I know there are lots of options out there but hopefully for anyone starting out this could give you an idea of what is out there but I would always experiment with your materials and tools to find what works best for you!

First up lets talk scalpels!
I use Swann Morton ACM Number 11 blades. I find these blades are super sharp, not too expensive and don't have quite as much flex in them as surgical blades. As I also use a round handle they fit within these much better and aren't as long as the surgical versions.

I have two favourite handles, for many years I used the Swann Morton number 1 ACM handle but now mainly use an Excel Blades K18 Cushion Grip Handle. 
They are both around the same size as a normal pen or pencil and are quite light and comfortable to use. The only issue with the Swann Morton Handle is the knurling on the middle part can be a little abrasive on your skin if you use it for a long time as I do. 

One of my best tips is also to wrap your scalpel with some plasters/band aids to help with comfort or get some pencil grips. You have to apply quite a lot of pressure when cutting and it can take a toll on your fingers and I've worn away parts of my fingerprints at times too!

Next up paper!
I have a couple of core papers that I enjoy using the most. 

First up is Daler Rowney Murano pastel paper.
This comes in a wide range of colours and also has a 45% cotton content which makes it a dream to cut. It is 160gsm which is on the heavier side but it is gorgeous to use. It's has a slight texture to which adds a little more interest to your papercut and comes in A4 size and larger 50x60cm individual sheets and also as pads.

Also by Daler Rowney is their Canford paper and card, the paper is 150gsm and the card is 300gsm. Again coming in a wide range of colours this paper might not have a cotton content but it is a great smooth paper and cuts beautifully. For more intricate work I would use the paper and then for perhaps background or simpler large sections I would use the card. 

Another pastel paper with cotton content is Canson Mi-Teintes 160gsm paper. Again lovely to cut and with the cotton content and a slight texture which is different on each side so you can get a slightly different effect using one side or the other.

Docraft Papermania Solid Cardstock packs also offer a really nice selection of colours in one convenient pack! You can buy these in various sheet sizes and they also have a textured version but I usually go for the smooth pack. Again this is heavy card though so not suitable for cutting for really intricate pieces but is great for extra colours and highlights.

Finally I love Papermill Direct's range! They do A LOT! From plain smooth paper and card to glitter and metallics, they have a great range all at reasonable cost and they also offer pick & mix! You can select a box size, paper size and then fill it with a selection of their papers and cards, which is a great way to bulk buy. 

I also tend to collect random paper, if I see some in shop that looks nice I'll give it a whirl and see what it's like!

With cutting mats I usually buy the most reasonably priced, pretty coloured one I can! I hate the dark green so I try to find something a little more neutral like a grey or just find a bright pink one somewhere!
I've used all sorts over the years from brands like Ansio which generally are more expensive and not been greatly impressed to random cheap ones from eBay. In my experience there is generally not a lot between them apart from how much you are willing to shell out.
I try to use all side of the mat, you can use the back even if they don't have grid lines on them. Just keep your mat out of the sun and away from direct heat, they can warp and if this happens place them under a heavy pile of books (or under your mattress!) and it should flatten back out.

Other handy tools are:

A metal ruler, if you want straight lines or to cut larger sheets of paper down a metal ruler is a must! You'll just cut into a plastic ruler and make it wobbly!
I have a brilliant Staedtler one which has a little grippy back which is really useful when you need to cut larger paper down and not have your ruler move whilst you are cutting!

A compass and a circle template or all those difficult to cut circles!

A paper piercer, if you want to do some super tiny circles these can help unless you want to be a total pro and just do them freehand like I do!

Above all I would just say to experiment with your tools and materials. These are my favourites but there are so many combinations of handles, blades and papers that might suit the way you work more than the selection I use. 
Hopefully this should give you some pointers but I started with ordinary 80gsm printer paper!

Happy Cutting!
Charlie x

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