Delicately Cut Paper Art Looks Like Elegantly Inked Illustrations of Spirit Animals

San Francisco based artist Kanako Abe creates hand-cut, intricate paper art, that at first glance look like pencil drawings. She started working with paper in 2012 when studying the Japanese art of Ise-katagami--a conventional stencil technique utilized for complex designs on Kimono fabric. Abe uses the same Japanese Ise-katagami cutting tools but on black newspaper, in addition to an X-Acto knife, a cutting edge, and--most significantly--incredible patience. The resulting hand-cut creations depict woodland spirit animals and mysterious forests that research "everyday moments and thoughts."

Abe's growing portfolio of animal cut-outs includes a reassuring moth which lets you "have faith in yourself, and you will notice the light," and also a supernatural fox with "connection to a magical realm." Abe records each piece on Instagram, occasionally showing how her art casts a gorgeous shadow when held against a light surface. Based upon the design's intricacy, Abe's art can take from somewhere between 15 to 70 hours depending on the size and how intricate the pattern is. "I find curvy lines require more time than geometric patterns with straight lines," she clarifies.

Keep up to date on Abe's work on Instagram, where she also shares her works in progress.