The art of cutting paper

Rooster papercut by Magdelana Gilinsky Jannotta.
(American Folklife Center)

When I was very young, we had a framed wycinanki on display in our home.  Created by my mother, a Polish immigrant, the design was of stylized flowers, in bold colors of red, yellow and black.  The framed papercut was decorated with a blue ribbon, a prize from a local arts and craft exhibition.

Ever sine I’ve been intrigued with this simple craft made with paper and glue, combined with the artist’s skill with scissor and knife.

The art of cutting paper may have originated in China.  During the eighteenth century, German cutwork (scherenschnitte) and paint were combined to adorn all manner of personal messages, such as declarations of love and New Year’s greetings, as well as official documents such as birth certificates and marriage licenses.  Papercuts called wycinanki began to appear in Poland in the mid-nineteenth century, and are still used to decorate windows, joists, and other parts of the home, particularly at Christmas and Easter.  –Source:  The Library of Congress, American Folklife Center

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One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. suburbanlife
    Jun 10, 2012 @ 11:46:24

    What a beautiful way of livening up drabness, and so simple as are all traditional folk crafts as in being accessible in technique and materials for ordinary folk to practice and take pleasure in. Mind you, at a certain beginning time of such a craft, materials such as paper were expensive and hard to access commodities, and it perhaps may be the now ubiquitous and commonness of paper has reduced the novelty and values of such artisanal practices, among other reasons that I may not have thought of. I do love indigenous art forms, especially the definite trope of symmetry that prevails in most of them. G


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