Lovebirds & Wedding Bells

I finished up this new piece last week – a wedding gift for our friends Jane & Susan – just in time for their reception!! The state of NC doesn’t recognize same sex marriage (yet) so the ceremony was held in Vermont, and we waited to celebrate with the brides after they returned home. We had so much fun at the reception though!! They had a slideshow playing with photos from the ceremony so guests could still feel like they’d been there. The venue was great, the brides were lovely, the food was incredible, and we sat with a great group of colleagues. We actually got to spend a little quality time with the brides too … something I’m told doesn’t always happen(?) With all the ridiculous stuff I’ve read while planning for my own wedding, it seems like it’d be easy to get wrapped up in how things are supposed to be or look or go a certain way. Well, this couple obviously knew that celebrating with the people you love outweighed all of that, and it made the whole experience much more enjoyable!!

This is the first cut I’ve completed with a colored backing, and I’m really pleased with the overall effect!! I’m sure any artist would say the same, but there’s always one detail in each work that continues to frustrate you. In the panels, it was that one wonky hand that didn’t turn out right, or the oozy looking walls in the High & Low cut. Well, for this piece it’s the tree trunk that shows through in the leaf next to the bottom of the bird on the right. You can only see it in the final version at the very top. DRIVES ME CRAZY every time I look at it :/ Just like with the last cut, I spent more time drawing than cutting this one and the design is definitely better for it. I’m also finding that my work improves a lot if I can take a break from working on a given piece for a few days and just hang it on the wall. When I do that, I always find a change to make that improves the composition in some way. Sometimes I just get on a roll and wanna keep my head down and productivity up, but it really helps when I take the extra time to step back and look at each piece from a different perspective.


Not sure how Evan feels about being pictured online wearing a pink cowboy hat and lei, but hey… HE chose those particular props okay?! There were giant glasses and mustaches to be had but he went straight for the pink. And I happen to think the pics are pretty cute. The purple lace dress looks kinda weird in the photo but it’s actually really beautiful. There are probably about 6 inches of fringe that hang from the bottom too that really make it. I wear it quite a bit, so I’m sure you’ll see it here soon enough. Not pictured are Evan’s crutches. He’s been doing better without them but was sure to bring them along, if only to get out of dancing! Things are looking good for our trip to Montreal though. I can’t believe it’s only TEN DAYS AWAY!!!

This was actually only the second wedding I’ve been to as an adult. The first was an Indian wedding that really blew me away because it was just so beautiful and inspiring – the flowers, the clothing, the jewelry, the decor, and the details in the ceremony itself. The first papercut I ever made was actually a birthday gift for that bride and featured a peacock design. With all these birds and weddings I feel like I’ve come full circle now! Without the loving response and encouragement from the recipient of that first gifted cut, I don’t think I would have ever come back to paper cutting. Thanks Hema! I definitely owe you one ;)

Vintage Photos Part IV – Coming Home

I’m so happy to finally share this last installment of vintage photos with you guys!! If you’re new to this series, these photos were printed from a canister of undeveloped film I found as a little girl when going through some items belonging to my late grandfather. I had no idea what the photos were of until a dear friend of mine had them developed and we discovered that most had been taken while he was serving as a glider pilot in France during WWII. If you want to see more or get the whole story behind the series, please check out Part I: Taking Flight, Part II: From the Cockpit, & Part III: Victory in France (my personal favorite!) This last segment includes some of the first photos he took after returning to the U.S. from his time abroad. [Untitled]005[Untitled]010I get shivers down my spine when I think of how it must have felt to see the statue of liberty like this as a soldier returning from war!! I can’t imagine the joy and satisfaction that welled up in those men upon seeing her and knowing that they’d risked their lives to fight for her principles.  Going through the photos in this series has stirred up an unusual sense of patriotism in me. I also happened to cry a few patriotic tears while Evan & I were watching that John Adams miniseries on Amazon – don’t laugh! It’s great by the way, definitely worth a watch.

I can’t really say I’ve always been proud of my country’s actions or it’s citizens… Coming of age just after 9/11 and seeing how many of my peers used ‘patriotism’ as  justification for hateful behavior and discrimination left a really sour taste in my mouth. It seemed at times, that the most outwardly patriotic individuals were the ones most ignorant of other cultures, most disrespectful to individuals who looked even remotely middle eastern, and most unapologetic for offending others with their words or actions. They claimed to fight for freedom but it was obvious all they wanted was revenge, and they weren’t too picky about who to unleash it upon either. I know only a few veterans & soldiers – all of them wonderful people – and I’m happy to have supported them despite not supporting the war. I wonder though, what they felt as they were coming home? Did they feel like they’d been fighting for freedom? For justice? [Untitled]016[Untitled]012I love that one of the very first things my grandfather chose to do after coming home was go to baseball game! I don’t know if a group of soldiers went together, if it was planned for them, or if he took it upon himself to go. It seems fitting though to partake in what’s widely considered to be the classic American pastime after coming home. Nowadays when friends come back to the U.S. after living abroad, it’s all peanut butter and junk food! [Untitled]017One of my favorite things about this series is getting to see the everyday attire of people in the photos. Part III is great for this :) Can we just go back to wearing hats all the time please?  [Untitled]013[Untitled]018Thanks for checking out these photos and sticking around for the end of the series! I hope you enjoyed the images and my oh-so-boring commentary :) Seeing NY from the air has me all excited about flying over the city in a few short weeks! The recent rash of airline disasters has a lot of people scared to fly but I cannot wait. I’ll be glued to the window with my camera, as usual, just like the grandfather I never met.[Untitled]008

Smoke & Mirrors

Up In Smoke

I’m so happy to be working on something a little different as far as the papercuts go! I’ll still be continuing my work on the Japanese Cinema inspired cuts for Sono but the change of subject is really refreshing. This style will allow me to incorporate some new techniques too, like adding a collaged background to the back of the cut. After laying the finished cut out on the red & gold tablecloth in our dining room and seeing how lovely all that color and pattern looks peeking through, I just can’t go back to a plain solid background!

This is the first cut I’ve done of this style and I’m pretty happy with it so far. I’m really glad I’ve been taking more time to work on my drawings before cutting and have noticed a marked improvement in my finished cuts. I was a little disappointed with how the samurai sequence panels came out and I really stepped up my sketching & prep work for the Seven Samurai cut to great effect.

I’m considering changing the hair a bit on this smoking cut – you can see that I went through several variations (one of which looked far too much like a pumpkin) before reaching the final design. There’s not a whole lot I can change now that the cuts have been made, but I think I’m going to slice out that line of shine on the hair. The very first drawing is still my favorite but I couldn’t seem to get back to it once I started filling in areas to be cut out – the expression on her face is lost in the progression of the design.

I’ll also be tracing the contours of this cut to make a mirrored version, that way I can fiddle with the design a little before cutting again. I’ll do a different collaged background for each so I can make prints in two different styles and then display the pair of originals together. I’m thinking one with mostly cooler colors and one with warmer colors for a nice contrast… unless anyone wants to lay claim to one and then you can customize your color scheme and pattern however you like :) Creating a mirrored version from the first completed cut, and skipping the long drawing process on the second, will allow me to bring the cost down on both pieces too. The final price will depend on the complexity of the collaged backing but I’m gonna estimate the cost of an original at about $300. My previous work has all been in black & white so I’ll have to get back to you on the cost of prints in color. If you’re interested in customizing one of these ladies just let me know via email or leave your info in the comments here :)

ZINDA - Haley Serrano - Up In Smoke Papercut

A not-so-quick update…

Hi! I just wanted give you guys a bit of an update following that last post. There will be some big changes around here in the next several weeks and I’m SO excited to share more with you all! I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule soon enough but, just to hold you over, here’s a little of what I’ve been up to lately….

Warning: I got a smartphone (FINALLY!!) so expect to be flooded with instagram photo updates for the next several weeks until the glory of my newly acquired camera phone wears off and I decide to tote around that heavy Canon again – Sorry, not sorry.

I finished up a few new papercuts recently (more on that below) and have been working with my dear, and all too generous, friend Andy down at Arrowhead Collective to build a custom frame study enough to display the largest of them – at 4×5 feet it was literally falling out of the existing frame because of the weight of the cut. The brick clad buildings are part of the Liberty Arts studio in Durham’s beautiful Goldenbelt complex where the Arrowhead guys create their incredible wood and metal work. I was so stoked to check out their shop last week and only hope that one day I’ll have the pleasure of creating my own artwork in such an inspiring space, steeped in local history. I will always be a Durham girl at heart! Also, new shoes.. can’t skip that. These hasbeen knock offs from Old Navy might as well be glued to my feet because they’re all I’ve been wearing lately. So cute, so comfy, so cheap.

This tobacco field on the way to Wake Tech’s main campus is one I’ve been driving past a lot recently. Evan’s broken his foot so I’ve been driving him to work until he’s ready to get behind the wheel again. As it happens, the injury came about an hour after we booked our flights for a last minute (and much needed) vacation to Montreal. I should probably warn you that you’ll be hearing a LOT about that too. He should be good for lots of walking and biking by the time we leave though, as long as things heal normally. The ring, I made last year but I haven’t worn it in a while and it just looked so pretty in this photo :) The dessert is there for shameless bragging – really, it was so delicious I couldn’t believe I’d actually created it. Mascarpone tart with a gingersnap crust, topped with blackberries, peaches, and an apricot glaze for Evan’s birthday. I’m gonna take full credit too because I combined so many different recipes (and improvised a large enough portion of the process) that I feel like I can claim the kudos. Sooner or later I’ll get it all down in writing so you guys can recreate the dish in all it’s fatty sugar-filled splendor.

I also snapped up this awesome 90’s Shaq jersey from a box full of Evan’s kid’s clothes, got my beloved muff pedal working so I can churn out some super gritty bass for our newest musical endeavor, purchased a $9 kiddie pool that was worth every single penny, and fell in love with some gerbils belonging to Evan’s little brothers. I want one terribly but, sadly, neither cats nor Evan approve. The other two photos were taken in downtown Raleigh on a very unfortunate day – a beautiful (and quite valuable) oil painting was stolen from one of the restaurants I was sourcing artwork for and I was downtown to help file the police report. It still boggles my mind that someone would do such a thing to a local artist! This was the 3rd theft of artwork from the same venue and we’ve now had to stop exhibiting work at that location all together. While I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s nothing more I could have done to prevent the theft or recover the painting, my heart still breaks for the artist who so lovingly and painstakingly created it. It’s just terrible that the heinous acts of one cruel person could destroy an opportunity that would have allowed countless local artists to share their talents with the community. All we can do is protect our works as best we can and try to move on right? Enter – frames that can be nailed directly into the wall. I’d actually like to see you try, art thief!!

This is the big papercut I mentioned above – inspired by an iconic scene from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It’s the largest work I’ve ever created! Evan and I made the trek to Sono to try and hang this baby on three separate occasions with no luck. It’s currently resting on the floor of my studio and MAN am I ready to get that thing out of the house and onto the wall! You would think an artist might have more attachment to her work… but after countless hours of cutting and hands that ache from dragging that stupid excato knife through thick paper, not to mention the pattern fatigue (seriously, it’s a real thing) that haunts me with images of my own artwork every time I close my eyes or try to sleep, I am SOO ready to move on to smaller projects. I’m working on sketches for several new commissions at the moment, and have photos of one currently in the works to share with you tomorrow.

Also, I lightened my hair again! I’m gonna add a little red back in though… still can’t commit to the full on blonde yet (read: WUSS) Thanks again for sticking with me guys! I’m finally excited to be blogging again and I’ll have lots more for you very soon :)