I write a weekly Craft Column for a local paper. i share it here with bloggers.
Scherenschnitte. Sounds like a swear word doesn’t it? It’s actually a German word meaning scissor cutting. While the earliest known paper cutting samples originate from China around 960AD this craft really gained popularity in the 1800’s. German immigrants fleeing religious persecution settled in Pennsylvannia, and continued their favourite craft. Many of the traditional designs included symbols of faith and were used to decorate important documents such as marriage certificates.
Scherenschnitte is an inexpensive craft. Paper and scissors are all you really need to get started. You can use a craft knife instead of scissors if you prefer. I have a tool that heats the cutting blade and I find that it works well, especially on paper towel or handmade papers.
Which pattern? Traditional patterns were mostly symmetrical, however you can use asymmetrical patterns. Try a simple pattern to begin with. You may be surprised at how long the first project takes to cut out. Don’t despair; it won’t be long before you have the confidence to tackle some of the more complicated designs. Most of the instructions I have read suggest tracing the design onto the paper. I prefer to use carbon paper. It cuts out double tracing.
Where to start? As most patterns are symmetrical you can fold the paper in half and cut both sides at the same time. Yes! Just like in kindergarten. If you have chosen a pattern that has some symmetry but is largely asymmetrical you need to cut the symmetrical parts first. Once completed you can unfold the paper and continue cutting.
Now What? Your finished design can be used in card making or mounted and framed. If you have used plain white paper you might like to give it an antique look with some coffee or tea stain. Plain white cutouts mounted onto light backing paper have an elegant look while white on a black background heightens the silhouette. The photo is a partly cutout design on hand dyed paper. Once you have mastered the skill of scissor cutting I’m sure your imagination will soar.