Papercutting, Folk art with a rich history
Papercutting is a folk art that has remained popular for many centuries and has spanned the globe. From the paper cut art of the Chinese people to the Pennsylvania Dutch, many folks have tried their hand (scissors and knife as well!) at this fun art and craft.
was practiced by many people as early as the 1500s in Germany and Switzerland. It is usually a symmetrical design, cut from folded paper depicting local stories and landscapes. Scherenschnitte is often cut with a scissor. Many depict silhouettes of people. The Pennsylvania Dutch brought Scherenschnitte to America in the 1700s. Many of the Pennsylvania Dutch papercuts contained love messages and marriage commemorations.
Chinese papercutting —Jian Zhi
dates back many centuries. It was practiced by rich families, often brides prepared them as part of their dowry. It was a folk art as well, mastered by the general population, the only supplies needed being paper, scissors and imagination. Its themes tend to be rich and full of customs such as festivals, marriages and birthday banquets. They are cut out of richly colored papers often red, and are very intricate. The Chinese paper cuts are cut with scissors using origami paper.
Jewish papercutting is a very traditional art form. Papercutting has been used among the Jewish people traditionally to enhance ketubahs – marriage contracts, and other artworks hung in Jewish homes, it often uses symmetrical design with traditional Jewish symbols.
Papel Picado- Mexican Paper Cutting
originated in Columbian Mexico. Aztecs used mulberry and fig tree barks, but the art blossomed when tissue paper became available. The artists use many layers of tissue paper and punch their designs using a special tool call a fierritos. These colorful and delicate papel picado are hung as banners across doorways and windows.
art was first practiced by shepherds in Poland who cut out images from tree bark and in later years transitioned to paper. These Polish Crafts date from early mid 19th century and was used as home decoration and window covering. It is traditional in some areas of the country to make them very colorful with peacocks, roosters and star shaped medallions. Other parts of the country used only one color. They are punched out and cut out, and often use multiple layers. As the traditional designed were passed down they gradually became more intricate.
Many Cultures, Many styles
Papercutting art has literally been the art of the people for so many years across many divides. The simplicity of the tools and the elemental designs make it accessible to any who wish to try it.
There much still to explore
We have given you a brief overview of papercutting, but the real history lesson here is that anyone can do it. Try your hand at a papercut and see how much fun you will have. You will be so proud of your results!