Wycinanki - Polish Paper Art

Many times we cannot remember why we like certain things or activities or where our habits originated. I can say that for myself for many things - I simply have no clue why I like certain things or why I have the habits that I have - except for one.

I heart working with paper - that is no secret. But why? Until recently, I didn't have an answer to that question.

You know how sometimes a memory form your childhood hits you out of nowhere or maybe it is triggered by something as simple as a familiar scent? For me it was the memory of working on wycinanki when I was younger. The memory of holding a pair of plastic scissors in one hand and a folded piece of paper in the other while carefully cutting in - made me realize that this is the reason I do what I do. I finally found my point of origin.

Wycinanki is Polish paper art.

There are two distinct styles from Poland - from the Kurpie region where the cut outs are typically one color and the multicolored cut outs are from the Lowicz region. Although I originate from neither region, I remember working on the single color paper cutouts when I was young.

In an attempt to remind myself how this craft is done, I went to my favorite library to pick up a book - Folk Art Designs by Ramona Jablonski. In it, Jablonski explains that early paper cutting featured animal themes and were cut as decorations around Easter time. Also, in the time before window glass, peasants would cut decorative holes into sheep skin that would cover their windows. So like many things, this art form was born out of necessity.

After reading up on the craft, what else is there to do aside from try it myself? For the first try, I used a thin paper rather than something nice, plus it is easier to fold it multiple times but it does rip very easily. Next time, I'll make them with my niece. You never know, maybe the experience will inspire her to do something creative later on in life.