April 11, 2011

Can You Say "Scherenschnitte"?

It's a German word that means "scissor cuts". It describes the beautiful folk art tradition of cutting paper into elaborate designs and silhouettes; one that began in Switzerland and Germany in the 16th century and is still practiced today.

One of my favorite treasures in my house is an exquisite example of this art form. I spied it at the bottom of a boxed lot of miscellaneous frames and art at an auction twenty years ago. Keeping my fingers crossed that no one else would recognize that it was an original papercut, and not just a print of a silhouette, I placed my bids. I was delighted to get the entire box for only $25!

The silhouette is a single piece of black paper that has been cut into a charming and intricate storybook image. I love everything about it and I'm fascinated by the amazing details. I could look at it for hours! In the lower right corner is the very faded signature of the paper cutter: Lotte G___ (can't make out the last name), Berlin.

What do you think that whiskered kitty has on its mind?!?

(By the way, "Scherenschnitte" is pronounced Sharon-sh-net, if German or Sharon-sh-net-ah if Swiss).

I have an even greater appreciation for paper-cutting now that I've begun to make my little dioramas. My paper-cutting skills are crude at best when compared to Lotte's, but I'm having great fun nonetheless. Here is my latest endeavor-- it features garden cats Mario and Bella, enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature, now available in my Etsy Shop:

Thanks for visiting!


Rita Dean said...

I've learned something new today. That looks as precise as the laser cut paper common today. Extra special since it features cats. Thanks for sharing. Love your art work too. I have some ideas floating in my head to combine cats, fabric, sewing, etc. Have done some cutting to start, but I guess I am afraid to actually start. And that's just ridiculous.

Unknown said...

Rita, whenever I teach a watercolor workshop, the biggest stumbling block I have with students is their fear factor. My best advice is to just jump in, and prepare to "fail" until you come up with something you like. With inventors and artists alike, the "successful" ones are those who are willing to learn from each "failure" until they are able to make something work to their satisfaction... so dive in!

Gio said...

I followed your precious tutorial and made a LadyCat: me!

Thank you for sharing with us your beautiful ART.

Unknown said...

I visited your blog post Gio, and I LOVE your painting!! Keep up the good work!

Skeezix the Cat said...

I can see why you're so enamored of your scherenschnitte. (Boy, that's not a word you can say three times fast.) Until you really explore it, you don't realize it's all one piece of paper!

Q.W said...

Oh my goodness is that a Lotte Reiniger? How beautiful it looks in a frame!