Polish Art called Wycinanki is a popular form of papercut art used widely for different occasions, and one of the most recognizable forms of Slavic art.
The History of Polish Art Wycinanki
Wycinanki, pronounced vee-chee-non-kee, or simply papercuts in English, is a form of folk art most known in the Slavic region, and present in the cultures of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. It is said that the art originated in the 19th Century, from shepherds beginning to cut designs out of pieces of wood or leather. Other theories are that in the past, only few people had glass windows so they hung sheep skin instead, and to let in some light and air, they would cut designs with what they had, like sheep shears, into those pieces of skin, that soon became decorative and then more and more creative.
Be it as it was, this Polish folk art pieces were not colored at first, but soon became pasted on furniture and other places as decoration, and were further enriched. Interestingly, the colors of wycinanki can be linked to the region in which they are made, the famous ones being from Kurpie and Lowicz. A form of wycinanki was also known to be hung in windows anyhow, and even given as presents.
Nowadays, wycinanki don’t need to be necessarily cut out of paper. There are different techniques used to create the art, and some include clipping, punching, tearing and carving the paper, but also gluing the pieces together, sometimes even in layers. The forms in which the papercuts are made can also get quite creative, as they can be abstract shapes, geometrical, but also folk-themed, bird-themed and also medallions in forms of stars called simply Gwiazdy instead of papercuts. Wycinanki are also often created to celebrate holidays and have themes like Christmas, Easter, etc. They are also a form of art which is learned very early in schools as a part of the art-crafts, so if you have children that you plan to put in a Polish school of any sort, they will most probably come in contact with a class on how wycinanki are made.
As creating wycinanki is considered a part of the folk history of Poland, there are numerous competitions including their creation. Also, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai holds a Polish Pavilion based on a wycinanki design.
You Can Create Wycinanki Yourself!
What’s fun and interesting about wycinanki is the fact that you can, too, create this art form of paper cutting yourself, and do it successfully. You can even include your whole family and kids, and make a little project out if.
All you need, for basic designs, is a piece of paper, scissors and a printed-out template. There are plenty of cutting designs to choose from online, just by googling it, but you can also draw some. Then, if you want to, you can play around with different colours of paper and even more complex designs if you are a bit more skilled.
Once you print out the template you like, you should fold it in half (they are usually done symmerically), and then just cut the extra paper around it, and even inside if there is room for it. And that’s it! Now, depending on the purpose of your papercuts, you can glue your design onto a colored background, and use it as a picture which you can frame, or you can play further with it. The finished design can be hung up as a picture, or used as a part of decoration for any occasion, or just played around with any way you like.
You can also watch a tutorial on papercutting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzXcA4nbFBI
So awaken your creative side and go and make some art!