Grade 8 students created intricate cut paper wycinanki (pronounced Vee-chee-non-kee) incorporating a heart theme for Valentine's Day. Wycinanki is a traditional paper-cutting craft from Poland, but it is also practised all over Eastern Europe. It dates from the mid-19th century where it was first made by shepherds who used their huge shearing scissors (as it was the only tools they had available) to create intricate patterns out of leather for decoration. A somewhat similar craft, scherenschnitte, is practised in Germany and Switzerland.
So students looked at examples of wycinaki and scherenschnitte to better understand the style and technique. Typical motifs include animals, birds, flowers, leaves, and trees. We looked primarily at the Kurpie style of wycinanki as it is only one colour. They had to draw a symmetrical paper-cut that included a heart. These were planned on a piece of this folded white paper and had to be designed so they could be easily be cut with only scissors, as I didn't want to have to use x-acto knives for this project.
Here are a couple of great videos about papercutting.
The first is a charming clip from a 1972 Soviet documentary about Vyacheslav Dubinka (1941-2010), a famous Belarusian papercutting artist:
This second video shows the work of contemporary British artist Rob Ryan who is famous for his intricate paper-cuts. I am in awe of his work and would never have the patience it takes to create what he does!
Handmade Portraits: Rob Ryan from Etsy on Vimeo.
So below is an example of a sketch drawn on one side of a folded sheet of paper. Once the sketch is complete, it helps to shade in the areas you plan on cutting and to double check that everything is attached correctly.
Then cut the shaded parts out. I show my students how to move only the paper and not the scissors, while cutting. It seems to work easier this way. I have a bunch of small scrap-booking scissors I bought from the Dollar store- they help with smaller, more intricate areas.
|an example of the huuuge shearing scissors traditionally used to cut wycinanki- wozers! Source|
Unfold and voila!
From here students could glue tissue paper to the back- these look pretty hung on a window. Or you can glue them (carefully, with a glue stick or spray glue) to black (very dramatic) or coloured paper.