Early in the month, I took a workshop in Scherensnitte (literally ‘scissor cut’ ) at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. They often offer these unusual courses taking advantage of the fact that so many artisans live in the Berkshires.
Pamela Dalton, our master teacher, is an uber-talented artist with a real feeling for her work and the generous ability to teach it to others. Her work is collected avidly by many, and she has illustrated several books like the one above. The cover illustration above was cut from a single sheet of paper which she then hand-painted.
This is an end paper from another of her books, “Giving Thanks”. Because of the neutral colored paper, the exquisite precision of the cutting is more visible but it still seems slightly diminished on the printed page. In person, these cut paper pages look like wonderful pieces of lace! This design repeats in quarters, so the entire border would have been cut from one page folded in quarters!
The workshop began with trees and girls, using folded, thin origami paper which is easy to cut with an Exacto knife. The paper is folded in half vertically and the designs are mirror images when completed, rather like the snowflakes the children make.
Pamela provided the templates for us to use. Some, like the girls, were cardboard and were traced around before cutting. More elaborate patterns like this were drawings on paper traced with graphite carbon paper before cutting out.
At the end of the workshop, we ‘graduated’ to the most complicated of the projects. The cutting was all done with an Exacto knife with a #11 blade on a cutting mat through the folded paper, thus cutting two pieces of paper at once. The cutting mat, green – in the second photo, is self-sealing and seems to really help in keeping the knife from slipping and wrecking the whole thing. This double plaque is 5”X 7”.
The cut work design of the ‘Dahlia’ placemats (by Chilewich) inspired me to do Scherensnitte place cards. With no origami paper to hand, I used plain Xerox paper for my printer. It is heavier than the origami so a little harder to cut both pieces of paper cleanly at once.
I used circle templates to trace the shape of the design and the inner circle. And then copied some of the branching from one of Pamela’s templates for the design itself. The template and graphite carbon paper were stapled to the paper so nothing slipped while the cutting is happening.