How to Do Traditional Scherenschnitte Paper Cutting

Updated February 21, 2017

Traditional Scherenschnitte paper cutting is an art form in which paper is cut decoratively. It is believed to have first been invented around 105 A.D. in China. Centuries later it was popular in Europe by the Swiss, Germans, Polish and Dutch. The word Scherenschnitte is Swiss and German and means the art of scissors snipping or paper cutting. It was particularly popular in Pennsylvania where much of the traditional Scherenschnitte designs originated. Some Scherenschnitte paper cutting is left solid white or black; others are painted with water colours.

Draw or trace the Scherenschnitte pattern onto the light side of the paper. You can find Scherenschnitte patterns in books and in pattern kits online. Symmetrical patterns are used by folding the parchment paper in half and drawing half of the design along the fold.

Begin cutting areas of the paper away with scissors such as along the edges and the fold. Resist the urge to pinch areas of the paper in order to cut with the scissors; it will leave marks on the parchment paper.

Lay the design on the cutting mat and carefully cut out the remaining portions of the pattern using the cutting tool. As you cut around the design, taking the excess paper away, the silhouette design will be revealed.

Place the finished design on the background paper and secure it with adhesive. Adhesives made for scrapbooking work well.


Practice with simple designs until you are comfortable with more complicated ones. Do not rush the cutting; take your time for the best results.

Things You'll Need

  • Scherenschnitte pattern
  • Tracing pencil
  • Parchment paper
  • Small scissors
  • Cutting tool
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Acid-free background paper
  • Acid-free adhesive
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About the Author

Katharine Godbey began freelance writing for blogs and websites in 2007 with a background in curriculum writing and teaching. She studied business at Colorado Technical University. Godbey enjoys writing about many topics including small business, crafts and florals, decorating and health.