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The intricate paper cuts of Ingrid Lavoie draw you into a fantastic world of whimsy, nature, and storytelling. We are so happy to have Ingrid come to teach her unique craft during Scandinavian Heritage Week, March 19-25. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) who fell in love with papercutting while on vacations visiting family in Denmark. Self-taught, she found her rhythm and style by using an X-Acto knife to “draw” images, instead of scissors. She enjoys unfolding a new work to reveal the paper’s transformation, and has been teaching others this delightful art form for several years. Enjoy our interview!

CP: How did you get your start with paper cutting?

IL: I was on vacation in Denmark visiting my Aunt and noticed them in homes and for sale. I was a student at the time and couldn’t afford to buy as many as I’d like, so I tried to cut my own.

CP: What do you like about this unique medium?

IL: I really enjoy the act of cutting the paper. The hardest part of making my art is the design and drawing. Once I have those factors realized the cutting part is very relaxing. In high school, I loved  taking 3-D and cutting the paper is like sculpting. What are you taking away from the sheet, what is left behind and does that read.

CP: Where did you grow up?

IL: I grew up in Connecticut and live in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union!

CP: How does living in Rhode Island influence your work?

IL: We are also know as the Ocean State, so those motifs find their way into my work.

CP: Do you have a favorite motif?

IL: Any thing that has either fur or feathers!!!

CP: What or who inspires you?

IL: Other paper artists, such as Mr. Rob Ryan, old illustrations and beautiful images that come on my Pinterest feed.

CP: You have so many beautiful and intricate pieces!

IL: Well, thank you! My first cuttings weren’t so detailed.

CP: Tell me about a favorite project.

IL: This fall I made my largest cutting to date. It measures over 6ft tall! I used tyvek for the first time and it was a challenge. It celebrates Hans Christian Andersen’s birthplace, Odense Denmark. In it are lots of images and a hidden pair of scissors. He was a paper cutter himself and would entertain folks at parties by telling a story as he cut and then revealing an illustration at the end. Sort of a parlor trick. I’m bringing this cutting with me, to the Folk School, as it fits in so well with the Scandinavian theme!

We can look forward to seeing this impressive paper cut, a tribute to Odense Denmark, in person at the Folk School during Scandinavian Heritage Week, March 19-25. Here Ingrid has installed it at the 2016 Wee Faerie Installation, Florence Griswold Museum.

CP: Your class is during Scandinavian Heritage Week. Is paper cutting specific to Scandinavia, or is paper cutting a medium you would find traditionally across the globe?

IL: The act of paper cutting is a tradition you can find in nearly every culture around the world. In Scandinavia, they typically hang cuttings in their windows to celebrate the light during long dark winters.

CP: How old is the art of paper cutting?

IL: Thousands of years old, once paper was invented in China, it wasn’t long before people started cutting it.

CP: Why did people traditionally make paper cuts?

IL: I think it’s because most people have access to it. You don’t need fancy tools, chemicals or a studio to do it. Swiss shepherds would use their sheep sheering scissors to cut images for their loved ones.

CP: Do you need to be skilled at drawing to be good at paper cutting?

IL: It can be a big help, but not a necessity. It also depends on how realistic you want you images to be. But like anything, it requires practice and patience.

CP: I’m always curious about how traditional folk arts fit into a contemporary art school degree program. Was it readily acceptable to use paper cutting as an illustration medium when you pursued your BFA at RISD?

IL: No, I did paper cutting more for gifts and decorations when I was in college. I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator in college and my medium then was pastels. I still want to be a children’s book illustrator and would love to create one in paper cutting.

CP: What is your 2017 winter obsession?

IL: Baking cakes and cinnamon buns, you can see on my blog.  If I’m not creating art, I’m baking!

CP: What would be your dream commission?

IL: Window cuttings for a fabulous New York City department store’s Christmas display.

CP: Tell me about your upcoming class, Introduction to Paper Cutting.

IL: It is my hope that my students enjoy the class and leave with a piece of art that will become an heirloom to their families.

CP: Where can people find your work?

IL: They can visit my website and my Etsy shop.

CP: Are paper cuts a serious side effect of paper cuts? ;-p

IL: No, I usually cut myself handling the glass when I’m framing. You can get a crick in your neck if you don’t stretch now and again!


Learn more about Ingrid’s class coming up in March 2017:

Introduction to Paper Cutting

(Scandinavian Heritage Week)
March 19-25, 2017

Paper cutting has been practiced for centuries around the globe. Thought to have originated in China, it became widely popular in Germany as scherenschnitte and grew as a folk art in Scandinavia. Join us to explore these worldwide traditions, which relate in symmetry, but vary in design. This introduction to the act and art of cutting paper will be done with X-Acto knives and provided templates, plus students may design their own work to create personal heirlooms. All levels welcome. Scandinavian Heritage Week honors the Folk School’s roots, inspired by “folkehøjskole” of these northern European countries. In the company of newfound friends, you will enjoy special food, music, dance, and craft traditional to the region.

Register today!

A few of the projects that Ingrid will offer during her upcoming class.

To see more of Ingrid’s work and to learn more about her craft, visit her website:






We are so lucky that Brasstown is in the direct path of the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Join us at 2:35 p.m. EDT on August 21, and view a two-minute space show of epic proportions. While you’re here, enjoy a relaxing weeklong Folk School class in our beautiful mountains. Immerse yourself in a craft, discover nature photography, or learn to brew artisan beer. Here are just a few of our “Eclipse Week” class offerings.

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Search for Our New Director

by Keather Gougler on February 19, 2017

in Folk School Folks

With the impending departure of our Executive Director Jan Davidson, who has provided extraordinary leadership of the school for 25 years, we have an exciting opportunity for someone to continue to lead John C. Campbell Folk School with vision, spirit, energy, creativity and inspiration.

The search for a new Executive Director has necessitated some important introspection and thoughtful contemplation. To that end, our Atlanta executive search firm, Boardwalk Consulting, has conducted extensive interviews and research and has put together an Executive Leadership Profile, which clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Director. You can find it here.

It is a time of great promise for the school and a satisfying opportunity for a new leader to envision and create its next successful evolution.

Please review the Executive Leadership Profile and share this message as well as the Profile broadly to help us spread the word about this pivotal and life-changing opportunity.

Thank you in advance for your help.

To apply or suggest a prospective candidate, email or call Kathy Bremer or Patti Kish at 404-262-7392.


Scandinavian Heritage Week

by Cory Marie Podielski on February 10, 2017

in Featured Classes, Themed Weeks

Each year, we celebrate the Folk School’s roots by inviting students to immerse themselves in Scandinavian food, music, dance, and craft for a week. Gain inspiration from our class picks below, and join us in embracing the vibrant folkehøjskole culture. Scandinavian Heritage Week is March 19-25. Come celebrate!

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Set Your Table

by Cory Marie Podielski on February 9, 2017

in Featured Classes

Dinnertime is a time of congregation, community, and celebration between family and friends. Imagine the satisfaction of using a tool you made, or cooking skill you learned at the Folk School, in your kitchen every day. We have put together a collection of class picks that will help you set your table Folk School-style. Enjoy!

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