AOC Craft Vietnam JSC

Sweet pop cards

AOC Craft Vietnam JSC

Some concepts about Fretwork

Fretwork is an interlaced decorative design that is either carved in low relief on a solid background, or cut out with a fretsaw, coping saw, jigsaw or scroll saw. Most patterns in this field are geometric in design. The materials most commonly used are wood and metal. Fretwork is used to adorn furniture and musical instruments. The term is also used for tracery on glazed windows and doors. It is also used to adorn/decorate architecture, where specific elements of decor are named according to their use such as eave bracket, gable fretwork or baluster fretwork, which may be of of metal, especially cast iron or aluminum.

To make it simple, fretwork is the “inside cuts” in the design, mostly in wood, but can be done on anything that can be cut



1, Fretwork through in 3000 years

The art of fretwork began more than 3000 years ago with fretted inlays on furniture in Egypt.  It has been popular in North America and Europe from the mid 1800’s until today.  Fretwork of the 1800’s and early 1900’s was done with hand fretsaws or foot-powered scroll saws.  In the 1920’s several scroll saws were designed for use with electric motors. 

The evolution of the scrollsaw is linked to the rise in popularity of fretwork (the sawing of intricate shapes from wood). Although there are examples of fretwork-like decorations on early Egyptian, Greek, and Roman furniture, these were probably carved or cut with a knife. It wasn’t possible to saw delicate wooden shapes until the late 1500’s, when a German craftsman (possibly a clock maker) devised a method for making fine, narrow blades.

In 1974 Helmut Abel of Germany started building the Hegner line of scroll saws which started a new popularization of fretwork as a hobby.

Fretwork was introduced to America in the mid-1800’s as Sorrento wood carving , so named because of the area in Italy that it was most popular. By the 1860’s, the first mechanical fret saws – called scroll saws – began to appear in the U.S. And so a great art form and hobby were born. Today there are over fifty models of scrollsaws available with many options.


2, Pattern of fretwork- The essential part:

Fretwork was a very popular hobby at the turn of the XX century, in fact those were the golden days of the hobby, patterns were produced and sold in great numbers and quality, not only in Italy, but in many western countries. “We always have the whole collection of patterns available, because the patterns are constantly reprinted. Many of these designs have reached 65 editions in a short time (65,000 copies). The number of patterns sold  until December 1905 is 5,932,400” said Pietro Barelli, an Italian businessman. Besides him, there are many other fans of this hobby who had a great deal of pattern. For instance, in October 1895, Hobbies issued its first number of weekly Hobbies magazine which contained an impressive collection of fretwork patterns, clocks, coffers, shelves and many other decorative items. At the beginning of the XX century, it sold many copies of the magazine, hundreds of thousand for sure, maybe millions. In addition, some people like Bowman, Russell, Wild were well-known scroll saw designer in the USA. In Italy, there were Amati, Ettore; in France there was Joubert-Tiersot,.etc.

Here is some samples of pattern


3, Process:

Firstly you obviously need wood, solid wood is ussually preferred but it’s a bit hard but it’s long lasting. Or you can use plywood (of which the edges are obviously less desirable thhan those of solid one, fine hardwood plywood such as teak, cherry, walnut, mahogany, maple…) or other modern materials.



The entire process of fretwork revolves around the technique of making inside cutouts of various designs. This is known as piercing work. First, you drill holes into the waste, or area that will be cut away; then you thread the blade through, reclamp and retension the blade in the saw, before proceeding to complete the cutout. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to finish the project.


Fretwork patterns originally were ornamental designs used to decorate objects with a grid or a lattice. Designs have developed from the rectangular wave Greek fret to intricate intertwined patterns. A common misconception is that fretwork must be done with a fretsaw. However, a fretwork pattern is considered a fretwork whether or not it was cut out with a fretsaw.


4, Fretwork by machine:


Computer numerical control (CNC) has brought about change in the method of timber fretwork manufacture. Lasers or router/milling cutting implements can now fashion timber and various other materials into flat and even 3D decorative items.

Some-concepts-about-Fretwork-19 Some-concepts-about-Fretwork-18

Washi paper-Great material for pop up cards and craft.


If you are looking for a material that looks traditional but still luxury with a variety of vivid color to add into your pop up cards, why don’t you take a look at Washi paper, a Japanese traditional paper that feels like cotton. Many origami player knows this type, but in fact, it can be used in other ways.

Washi is generally tougher than ordinary paper made from wood pulp, and is used in many traditional arts. Origami, Shodo, and Ukiyo-ewere all produced using washi. Washi was also used to make various everyday goods like clothes, household goods, and toys as well as vestments and ritual objects for Shinto priests and statues of Buddha. It was even used to make wreaths that were given to winners in the1998 Winter Paralympics. Several kinds of washi, referred to collectively as Japanese tissue, are used in the conservation and mending of books.

1, Origin


Washi (和紙) is a style of paper that was first made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, themitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia chrysantha), or the paper mulberry, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. The word “washi” comes from wa ‘Japanese’ and shi ‘paper’, and the term is used to describe paper made by hand in the traditional manner. Washi is one of the UNESCO’s Intangible cultural heritage objects.

2, Production process

Washi is produced in a way similar to that of ordinary paper, but fewer chemicals are used. It involves a long and intricate process that is often undertaken in the cold weather of winter, as pure, cold running water is essential to the production of washi. Cold inhibits bacteria, preventing the decomposition of the fibers. Cold also makes the fibers contract, producing a crisp feel to the paper. It is traditionally the winter work of farmers, a task that supplemented a farmer’s income.

Kozo is the most commonly used fiber in making Japanese paper. The kozo branches are boiled and stripped of their outer bark, and then dried. The fibers are then boiled withlye to remove the starch, fat and tannin, and then placed in running water to remove the lye. The fibers are then bleached (either with chemicals or naturally, by placing it in a protected area of a stream) and any remaining impurities in the fibers are picked out by hand. The kozo is laid on a rock or board and beaten.

Wet balls of pulp are mixed in a vat with water (and, in some cases, neri, which is a mucilaginous material made from the roots of the tororo plant) and one of two traditional methods of paper making (nagashi-zuki or tame-zuki) is employed. In both methods, pulp is scooped onto a screen and shaken to spread the fibers evenly. Nagashi-zuki (which uses neri in the vat) produces a thinner paper, while tame-zuki (which does not use neri) produces a thicker paper.


3, Characteristic


Warmth. Literally warmer to the touch than Western papers made of woodpulp, washi feels soft and creates a feeling of warmth in the viewer. Its tactile qualities make it wonderful for invitations and books.

Body. Since the fibres are left long and pounded and stretched rather than chopped, washi has a deceptive strength. Pure-fibred washi can even be sewn and was used for armour and kimono-lining in earlier times.

Strength. The length of the fibres and the nature of the raw materials ensure that washi is highly workable when wet. Thus it is excellent for papier maché, and etching in which the paper must be soaked. These long fibres produce a luxurious deckle edge, the rough edge which marks a handmade paper.

Soft translucency. Kozo and mitsumata are naturally translucent fibres, a quality specific to paper from the East. As such, it is used regularly for the transmission of light.

Absorbency. The nature of the fibres creates a ready absorption of inks and dyes. Papers that are “pure fibred” and dyed will result in much denser and more vibrant colour when fabric or watercolour dyes are applied.

Flexibility. Since the fibres position themselves at random, there is no real grain to washi. This gives the paper a resistance to creasing, wrinkling and tearing – and means it can be used more like cloth, for covering books, or boxes etc.

Lightness. Washi weighs much less than other papers of equal thickness. As a paper for books, it can create texts of apparent weightlessness.

Low acidity. Traditionally-made Japanese papers are truly acid-free if they are unbleached and unsized. Examples of printed papers exist in perfect condition in Japan from 1000 years ago. Today, papers from the village of Kurotani are among the finest archival papers.

Decoration. For centuries, colourful designs applied by woodblock or handcut stencils have created vividly characteristic papers, for decorative use. Recently, silkscreened chiyogami (small repeated-patterned paper) is available in an unbelievable range and widely used by craftspeople. Although made by machine, the quality available is about 70% kozo and comes in hundreds of patterns.

These features bring washi advantage in decoration, especially in superfluity product where colorfulness is necessary.


4, Application/Usage

Until the early 20th century, the Japanese used washi in applications where wood pulp paper or other materials are currently used. This is partly because washi was cheaper, but also because the unique characteristics of washi made it a better material. The different uses of washi are too numerous to mention, but include the following:

  • Ikebana — the art of flower arrangement, also known as kadō


  • Katazome — a method of dyeing fabrics using a resist paste


  • Kitemaking
  • Origami — the art of paper folding


  • Printmaking


  • Sculpture
  • Sewing
  • Shibori — several methods of dyeing cloth with a pattern
  • Shodo — the art of calligraphy
  • Sumi-e — the art of Ink wash painting
  • Sumingashi — a form of paper marbling
  • Ukiyo-e — a genre of woodblock prints
  • Washi eggs — covering eggs with washi paper
  • Chigirie  – using Washi for “painting” pictures
  • More than that, pop-up cards which is usually monotone, can make use of this traditional paper to bring an abundance of color and material, make pop up cards more vivid and close to real life