Paper, Scissors

wycinankaIn high school I worked  at a Polish import store that sold wycinanka, traditional paper cuts. I was told that these delicate constructions were cut with sheep shearing scissors. I have loved cut paper ever since then. Here are some examples of papercuts and some examples of scissors.

XIX scissors

This Polish rooster is visiting with a Chinese bird and butterfly and with a rooster from Indonesia. Below are some Papel Picados from Mexico.

chinese polish papercuts

Mexican papel picados

In the 1920’s and 1930’s Lotte Reiniger made animated movies out of cut paper silhouettes. Here is a link to one about Papageno.

.Lotte Reiniger papercut

She cut with sharp knives, but I like to imagine her using these scissors:

french embroidery scissors

Nikki McClure and Rob Ryan have done amazing work in recent years, such as this piece by Ryan.

rob ryan

Here is a medal for him.hungarian coat of arms

Peter Callesen and Mia Pearlman have stretched the form. This dimensional whorl was made by Pearlman.

mia pearlman papercut

I have been snipping at paper for about 1o years and had a show of papercuts in 2006, which included Adam and Eve (5 feet tall),

Paschkis adam and eve

and these smaller fruit pickers (10 inches tall).

Paschkis baskets

I love the symmetry of traditional paper cuts, but illustrations for stories sometimes need unsymmetrical parts. Here is my illustration  for the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

Paschkis Snow Queen

and here is one for a juicy poem by Julie Larios.

Larios Paschkis Oranges

Here is a celebration of bicycling and hats.

Paschkis bicycle trick

If you are interested in working with paper please take a look at the book Creating With Paper by Pauline Johnson and Hazel Koenig. It was first published in 1958 and it is still fresh.

creating with paper

To wrap things up here is a poem by David Mason, followed by two more Polish papercuts.

Song of the Powers

polish tree of life

18 responses to “Paper, Scissors

  1. These are amazing! I can’t imagine the patience and engineering that goes into these cut paper pieces. LOVE the whorl and the orange peel piece. And the poem: “scissor your wishes” – sigh.

  2. I love this post, Julie, AND your papercut turtle that keeps us company in our home! I also love Ashley Bryan’s BEAUTIFUL BLACKBIRD that is illustrated with papercuts he made with his mother’s sewing shears and scissors.

  3. Love seeing all these beautiful paper cut examples — love your bicycles and hats especially, and that poem is sublime. Thanks, Julie!

  4. Wow ! — Great Blog – Loved the images and remember your great Adam and Eve papercuts — Lots history in the paper / scissors art — and poem!!

  5. This is great, Julie. And it’s so nice to see Hazel Koenig’s name in “print” again! I’ll look for the book.

  6. Fantastic paper cuts, just lovely

  7. Wow Julie! Exquisite and lovely.

  8. Beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for sharing – I just ordered the book, “Creating with Paper” – can’t wait to get snipping!

  10. What an amazing selection of examples of this challenging art form! It must take hour after patient, careful hour. The results are incredible.

  11. I love paper cuts, especially Julie’s. I have read that wycinankas are traditionally glued to freshly white-washed walls in the spring and are replaced the following spring. So ephemeral!

  12. What a feast for the eyes! I use papel picados as valances on my kitchen & dining room windows & had to replace them so often as the tissue paper fades quickly. I found some plastic ones that while are not as delicate as still interesting & colorful

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