Leaf-carving: complicated, high-skill kitsch


Leaf-carving is one of those art-forms that looks like something cool the wacky kids at Adafruit Industries decided to try on their laser-cutter, but is actually painstakingly hand-crafted with clever little knives. Unfortunately, most of the subject matter seems to be somewhere on the kitsch scale between sheet-cake inkjet printing and airbrush van-art.

Leaf Carving Art (via Neatorama)

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  1. Sadly, I am no longer able to tell the difference between kitsch and the fine art that boingboing regularly pimps.

  2. I just saw a friend’s design for a sheet-cake picture of Peach domming Mario. Is that kitschy or edgey? Does the fact that it’s for a bachelorette party make it more one or the other?

    ’cause the leaf you chose to highlight is pretty awesome in a Hillary Knight/Arthur Rackham kind of way.

    1. You know, for a second I thought that it was a portrait of Pee Wee Herman. Then I realized why they put the Obama picture next to it.

      1. Never thought of it that way before, but Obama is pretty much Pee Wee Herman with pigment! :-) Hi boys and girls, the word of the day is “Health Care Reform”! j/k sorta ;-)

  3. I’ve been cutting up comic books for my papercutting art and showing all over SoCal, and I can’t get picked up here… but someone starts cutting bunnies into leaves and that shows up here? Sigh. All I want is to be loved.

  4. They say that the leaf carving is done by hand, with no printing or painting involved. Are you sure? Seems like a trivial thing to do with some sort of screen and mild acid or something.

  5. Yeah, it’d obviously be a lot better if the subject matter was infeasible pseudo-victorian steam-powered machines, or video game characters.

    1. Seconding tyler – I find it hard to see a meaningful distinction between this subject matter and naked chicks with monkeys, or anything that is “steampunk”…

  6. Unfortunately, most of the subject matter seems to be somewhere on the kitsch scale between sheet-cake inkjet printing and airbrush van-art.

    There’s some gems in the bunch like here.

    Maybe they all need more skulls and stuff? ;D

  7. The “making procedures” PDF linked on their page outlines the steps but doesn’t exactly go into great detail. I don’t think I’m giving away any artisan secrets when I reveal that Step 4 is “Carve the leaf”.

  8. Say what? You guys, this is beautiful! I really don’t even see how this qualifies as kitsch. Seriously.

      1. Oh. Ew. That rather, um, tarnishes it. But still, I’d love to have some Maxfield Parrish or Beatrix Potter pics or such in this medium.

  9. If you don’t like the Velveteen Rabbit, maybe think of it as an exercise of irony in spending far too much physical dexterity, natural talent, and time in making these – in potentia ephemeral – physical things of no cultural significance.

    1. Ultra-fine (carved and /or gilded) leaf calligraphy is a long tradition in Islamic art (from Turkey, I think); there’s some amazing stuff out there (the choice of a leaf as the medium resonates with meaning as well- relating to the universal fractal structures living beings carry within them as a microcosm).

      In contrast to the subject matter here (mad carving skills aside, of course).

  10. There are a great many people who are creative but unskilled. There are a great many people who are skilled but uncreative. There are precious few who are both creative and skilled, and they’re the people we tend to hear about.

    1. There are a great many people who are creative but unskilled. There are a great many people who are skilled but uncreative. There are precious few who are both creative and skilled, and they’re the people we tend to hear about.

      And sometimes we hear about these leaf carvers.

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