How long does your work take?
On average each paper sculpture takes between 300-500 hours. I produce about 3-4 works per year.
How are they made?
I start out cutting small concentric shapes and layering them, that becomes the center. I then build more elaborate components that respond to the previous ones and then build out from there. I call it “slow-motion” improvisation. At a certain point I decide the total scale, but I don’t know going into it. The work is so methodical and labor intensive I like to be surprised.
What kinds of tools do you use?
Basic straight edge scissors and X-Acto knives are my main tools. I also use simple drafting templates to trace shapes and mechanical paper punches, and create many of my own drawing templates. I do use rulers and compasses and aspire for balance and symmetry in the overall design, but they are not perfectly symmetrical. I have a range of crafting tweezers and hand tools made for ceramics I use to place smaller elements. I have an assortment of dedicated paper-crafting tools for things quilling and paper-folding.
What are your favorite scissors?
Kai scissors are my favorites. I like their 5000 series.
Do you use laser cutters?
No, everything is hand cut with straight edge scissors or X-Acto knives.
What kind of glue do you use?
I mostly use acid-free PVA glue and sometimes hot glue adhesive for larger pieces. I have a couple of different glue bottles, including one with a needle-point tip.
What kind of paper do you use?
It depends on the form of the work but generally I use heavier weight papers and cover stocks in the 250-350 gsm range. Paper lines I have worked with include Bazzill Basics, Dahler-Rowney Canford, Legion Stonehenge Series & Legion Paper ColorPlan.
Do you make drawings beforehand?
No. I generally think about a shape or a technique with the paper and use that as the starting point for a new piece. As they develop I do draw schematics for engineering particular components and for keeping track of the steps I am taking if I have to reproduce a component in multiples.
How do you chose your colors?
I have to think about what color I want to stare at for hours and hours on end, since color effects mood. Usually I just get a feeling or a sense that I a color would be interesting with my technique. It is also about how I transform the paper to appear as something else and color affects that too which I find interesting.
I began my investigations with paper many years ago while I was making models for my installations. Over time, I became interested in how this simple material could encapsulate all my formal and conceptual interests. Paper comes in endless forms. It can be used in multiple dimensions. It is easy to handle and manipulate, and it is available anywhere. It is inherently ephemeral, but given the right conditions, it can last for centuries.
My early paper pieces were image-based. Throughout a period spanning 15 years and hundreds works, I generated and refined my processes and techniques. I studied paper crafting traditions and integrated them into new discoveries about paper I was making on my own.
The work I am now creating is non-pictorial, non-objective, and non-representational in nature. The perspective of these pieces is left intentionally ambiguous: they can be read hung on the wall like bas-relief sculptures or mounted horizontally like architectural studies. There are new issues around engineering and construction that I have had to tackle as my work has evolved in this direction.
The broad aim of this investigation is to use three-dimensional structure and intricate detailing to push the boundaries of paper art literally into a new dimension.
You must have a lot of patience!
For me there is a difference between 'patience' and 'concentration'. Patience arises when there is something unpleasant I have to endure, which is rarely the case when it comes to making my work. However most artists I know develop good concentration skills which is the ability to sit in a focused state for a long period of time. So, yes my work has helped me gain an ability to concentrate and it isn't uncommon for me to work for 6-8 hours straight on a piece without feeling too stressed or fatigued.
How do I purchase one of your pieces?
Feel free to email me to inquire about my available work: email@example.com
Still want to know more? Check out some of these features on my work and interviews I have done:
· From art gallery to reality TV: Madison artist helps judge the competition, WSJ, December 2021
· OLFA: Guest Designer Interview, Michael Velliquette, August 2021
Layers of Intricately Cut Paper Construct Architectural Sculptures by Michael
Velliquette, Colossal, July 2020
· Michael Velliquette Member Profile, Paper Artist Collective, December 2019
· Michael Velliquette Interview, Liz Miller Artist Blog, February 2019
· Magnifying our Impulse for Adornment: Paper Sculptures by Michael Velliquette, On Art and Aesthetics, May 2017
· Starting from scrap: Madison artist makes a statement with cut paper, fragments, WSJ, November 2012