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The Secret Society of Paper Cuts

Norma Toraya of The Secret Society of Paper Cuts is an animator, author, and paper artist. She is a returning Maker to the Maker Faire Atlanta this year. Her work can be found at

Q: For Maker Faire Atlanta, what are you planning to showcase?

 A: Like last year, the Secret Society of Paper Cuts booth will have a fun paper puppet toy to make and walk away with. This paper toy an easy and great way to introduce folks how I’ve evolved from using simple tools (such as paper, scissors, glue) to using laser cutters and 3D printed parts to create all the paper toys and art that fall under the “Crankbunny” name. There will be a slue of Crankbunny paper puppets and pop up cards for everyone to play with and examine, too.

Q: What are your artistic influences (film, fine art, etc.)?

A: I find a lot of inspiration in old things. I grew up right at the edge of electronic fancy toys. It has made me personally fascinated with my own memories of playing with simple paper toys and using my imagination to fill in the gaps. Storytelling (verbal, written, visual ones) – especially tall-tales have always been a huge source of creativity. I love traditional animation and scientific / documentary style illustration work (Seguy, Audubon, Ernst Haeckel, Walton Ford).

Q: Were there any projects from your earlier days that led you in the direction of paper puppets? Did you start as a paper artist or painter?

A: I worked in animation for almost 10 years – primarily focusing on traditional techniques like drawn animation and flat 2D stop motion animation. Because of that work, I ended up making flat articulated dolls and props for commercials. They were always so wonderful to handle, but never had a home or place after a job was finished. I started giving them away as gifts and then slowly transitioned into making them for others more as a product. I do still love animating, but animation projects can take up to 3 to 6 months to complete usually. I love the paper work because its instant gratification and also the connection I get with other people.

Q: What was the wackiest project you worked on?

A: There is wacky “good” and wacky “bad.”

Wacky Good: The Secret Society of Paper Cuts How-To book series is extremely wacky. I’ve created a fictitious secret society of fabulous characters that are mysteriously funded to travel around the world looking for paper crafting techniques. Their “findings” are documented in the form of how-to paper projects found in each journal. I’ve created an entire back story for each ridiculous persona as a fun surreal way to help others learn how to make pop up cards and paper toys.

Wacky Bad: I directed a TV commercial for a diet product that limited how many bites you could take while eating. Extremely wacky and bizarre.

Q: If you weren’t an artist what other career paths would you take?

A: I come from a large stock of scientists and engineers (hence my fearless rapport with neat tools like 3D printers and laser cutters). I would have probably ended up a pathologist. The economics of being an artist frequently tests my ability to NOT throw everything into the air and sign up for some cytology courses.

         Secret Society of Paper Cuts

*This #MakerMonday post is written by AMF Volunteer Nichelle Stephens for your reading pleasure. More of her work can be found at: