Just for Nice: Scherenschnitte

One of the things I’ve always found interesting about the Pennsylvania Germans is their folk art such as hex signs on barns and frakturs. Scherenschnitte (pronounced something like Sharon-Sh-knit-a) is the German and Pennsylvania German tradition of cutting paper.  Traditionally these paper designs were done by folding the paper and cutting to make a continuous design.  Like what we did in childhood to make snow flakes or paper dolls that hold hands.

In the beginning, scherenschnitte were often used as decorative pieces for birth certificates, love letters, and marriage certificates. These tended to incorporate flowers, birds, and hearts.  Since paper was originally expensive, old letters or newspaper were often used.  This offers some unique insight into the lives of the people who made them. During the Victorian Era scherenschnitte was used to make shelf paper for cupboards so that pretty designed dripped over the edge of the shelf.  Or doilies for under cakes and on tables.

Scherenschnitte can also create a picture or tell a story.   For the Germans many of the pictures created were from folk tales.  These images tended to feature people and activities, which shares a lot in common with the French tradition of silhouette cuts.  Silhouettes, white images on black paper, were often cheap forms of art work.  (They were far less expensive then paintings.)

Today, scherenschnitte is still going strong and seems to have gained a following.  With things like exacto-knives the artists are now able to create very delicate and detailed items. Now an artist is limited by their creativity.

I especially like this one which I found on the internet!

I think during the summer season, when Quiet Valley is open to the general public this might be a great way for visitors to get their hands on some history.  They can sit and try their skills at producing some scherenschnitte of their own.

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