My family’s church was rooted in the German culture.
On the wall in the entryway was the most fabulous Lord’s Prayer I had ever seen. It fascinated me as a child, and all through the years that I attended.
This example is the closest thing I’ve been able to find.
It wasn’t until many years later I realized it was a form of scherenschnitte (SHAIR-en-schnitt-eh), which means “scissor snipping” in German. I could swear that the one in my church was cut out of white wood, perhaps even ivory, but since it was behind glass it was difficult to tell. It may have, indeed, been paper. In any case, it was beautiful!
Flash forward to the 1980s, and I found this adorable scherenschnitte of Noah’s Ark and just had to have it. This one incorporates fraktur (an old German type font style) and pastel colors, creating a lovely variation on the traditional technique.
Scherenschnitte goes all the way back to ancient China, and spread to Europe in the 16th Century. The Germans elevated it to the art form we know today, and the Pennsylvania Germans made it popular throughout the Eastern United States beginning in the 18th Century.
Believe it or not, much of the best work is done without the aid of drawings!
The cutting is done with amazing precision, and often involves paper that has been folded in a specific manner. Dimension is added by pinpricking the paper or layering the cut paper. And color and calligraphy can be used to enhance the traditional cutting as shown above.
Scherenschnitte could be “the” collectible in future years.
It’s an extremely demanding skill, and the most creative artists are few and far between. In addition, scherenschnitte hasn’t yet reached the popularity among collectors or the price levels of many antiques. I’ve seen one 18th Century work for $2,000 – but most seem to be available for $200 or less. Of course, the better examples, both old and new, cost more, but most are still within reach of a serious collector.
Maybe it’s worthwhile to look into scherenschnitte today, before the art is lost forever.
Antique, vintage or new, scherenschnitte offers a one-of-a-kind artwork that’s sure to last for generations!
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