Polish Paper Cutting Crafts

Written by genevieve van wyden
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Polish Paper Cutting Crafts
Children can learn Polish paper cutting as a craft. (Katy McDonnell/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Polish paper cutting (Wycinanki and Gwiazdy) are similar to, but also very different, from cutting out simple snowflakes. A Polish paper cutter draws his cutting design themes from nature; drawing, tracing and cutting out flowers, birds, trees and geometric shapes. Wycinanki and Gwiazdy may seem easy to accomplish, but until the paper cutter draws a design that doesn't go all the way through the paper, he is going to throw away many ruined, wasted efforts.

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As an art, Polish paper cutting involves cutting ornate patterns into folded paper. "Gwiazdy" is Polish for stars, and the shapes cut out in this particular form of paper cutting resemble eight-sided stars. Paper cutters fold pieces of paper into small squares, then use a pencil to draw geometric and curved designs on both sides of the squares. Once the cutter has developed a satisfying design, he cuts the folded paper along those lines. After unfolding the paper, he has an intricate paper star.

Wycinanki In Kurpie Region

Polish paper cutting from the Kurpie region of Poland uses coloured folded paper.

The paper cutter sets a cutting pattern down on top of a folded piece of paper, then traces the design, which may include birds, plants and roosters. After tracing her design, she removes the paper pattern from the paper she is going to cut. This form of paper cutting is slightly different from the Polish star-cutting because the tracing pattern has sections marked with an "x," and shaded areas that indicate where the scissors should be inserted for cutting.

Wynancki In Lowicz Region

The paper-cutter from the Lowicz region uses eight pieces of paper, all in different colours, for making paper cutting designs. The patterns for each different piece of paper are all different sizes, from small to large. The paper-cutter folds all eight pieces of paper; he traces each shape, cuts it out, and pastes the smaller shapes on top of the larger shapes. These designs are more lifelike, containing leaves and stems.

Uses for Polish Paper Cutting

Wycinanki is a Polish folk art, dating back at least to the 19th century. The peasants cut out and hung these decorations on the ceiling beams and walls of their homes to add a decorative element to the house. These paper cutouts are symmetrical, appearing identical on both sides. Wycinanki cutters draw from nature as they choose their designs; they also use holiday themes, such as Christmas trees. Children can make Wycinanki to give as gifts or to use as a simple home decoration.

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