What do you get when you take architectural design expertise and bring it into the world of paper art?
Beautiful, intricate three-dimensional creations.
JUDiTH+ROLFE is the husband-and-wife creative team behind these mesmerizing creations. Both of their backgrounds are in architecture and interior design, and a move from New York to Minneapolis—Saint Paul unexpectedly led Judith into the realm of paper art. While Rolfe still has a full-time corporate job, Judith refers to him as her behind-the-scenes guy, helping her out with ideation and other details needed to run the small business.
Though Judith says she's only been creating paper art since 2016, her architecture and design background undoubtedly gives her an edge over other artists, as her works evidently highlight her ability to craft in three dimensions.
Using 3/8" quilling paper, Judith created flora pieces BLOOM and LOTUS. BLOOM is inspired by the peony bushes in their backyard. With an insanely short blooming season, she wanted to capture their short-lived beauty.
The LOTUS piece is innovative in its construction in that the strips of paper are not glued down to a backer, but only to each other, creating an intricate and delicate freestanding object. Both these carefully handcrafted flora pieces continually change depending on the viewer’s perspective, evolving with shadow and light.
The eloquent, flowing lines of both pieces capture the vibrance and life of the natural world.
The PLAFOND ART DÉCO is an impressive piece where JUDiTH+ROLFE collaborated with wrapping paper company Impression Originale. The design was created using gold quilling paper on gold cover stock, and the underlay uses Impression Originale Optical Wave wrapping paper, design by Matt Chase. The design was inspired by the gorgeous stained glass ceiling at the Le Bon Marchè Rive Gauche in Paris, with the Op-art wrapping paper representing the stained glass elements. The wrapping paper is a separate underlay layer, and as the photos show below, can be switched out as desired.
Aside from analyzing JUDiTH+ROLFE's creations to admire each detail, we also invited them to share their story via the short conversation below.
P: Tell us about Rolfe and your background. Have you guys always been in the art industry?
J: Hi, this is Judith from JUDiTH+ROLFE. Rolfe and I actually come from an architecture and interior design background, not art. I’ve only been creating paper art since 2016, and still don’t feel entirely comfortable referring to myself as an “artist”. Rolfe doesn’t paper-craft, he’s my behind-the-scenes guy, helping out with backstage stuff.
P: What led you into the creative realm of paper art?
J: After a decade of working as an architect, a move from New York City to Minneapolis—Saint Paul set me on a path that ultimately led to paper art. Rolfe had a job offer that necessitated the move; he has a full-time corporate job. I’ve never felt passionate about architecture and knew I wanted to work with my hands. I was initially drawn to paper because of its availability and transformability. One day I started rolling paper coils for a handmade gift and have been obsessed with paper ever since.
P: Your art pieces are beautifully intricate. What would you say is the most challenging(/least favourite) part of creating these pieces? And what is your most favourite part?
J: I primarily work with strips of paper using a technique that broadly can be called quilling, but with a unique and contemporary approach. Rather than using the decorative shapes typically associated with paper filigree, the paper is still kept on edge but treated as its own line, not unlike sketching with paper.
My preferred process is to make unmounted pieces, meaning the paper strips are glued to each other but not glued down to a substrate. The most challenging or nerve-racking part of the process is when it comes time to glue these freestanding paper elements down to a background material, especially for the geometric work where everything needs to be precise and aligned.
My favourite part of working with paper is when I get into the flow state and am fully immersed in the work. The repetitive nature of cutting, shaping and gluing paper becomes meditative and enjoyable, and I love being able to completely focus on the task at hand. Multi-tasking is not one of my strengths, so this ability to concentrate on a single purpose comes easily for me.
P: What are the main influences and inspiration for your work?
J: Nowadays I actually make it a point to not look too closely at what other paper artists who work in this quilling medium are doing. I don’t see the point of reproducing something that someone else has already made. Inspiration can come from anywhere really; one source of inspiration is from other creative disciplines, such as ceramics, fiber arts, and so on. Nature and geometry are constant themes in our work.
P: Do you have a favourite piece of your own artwork?
J: That’s like asking someone to name his or her favourite child. Nope, I can’t say I have one.
P: What project are you currently working on? What ideas or plans do you have for your future work?
J: I have a few commissions on my plate at the moment. We have an exciting collaboration with another artist / illustrator scheduled in the next few months. I hope to have some free time soon to return to personal projects such as the marbling series; I’ve done a few small-scale tests but would love to work on a larger canvas. The next goal for JUDiTH+ROLFE is to participate in more gallery shows and art fairs, and to also have an online shop where we can list original paper artwork as well as sell some prints.
Thank you to JUDiTH+ROLFE for taking the time to do this interview with us, opening a window for us to see into the world of paper art design. We would love for you to get to know them and their work better. Visit their website to see more of their work here.
All photos courtesy of JUDiTH+ROLFE.