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Arts & Entertainment Unique art form on display at public library

A Scherenschnitte (scissors cutting) display by Marcia Roland will be featured at the Macon County Public Library in January. A centuries-old art form, Scherenschnitte designs are usually cut on a single fold of white paper.An exhibit of Marcia Roland’s paper-cuttings just outside of the meeting room at the Macon County Public Library will be on display for the month of January.

Scherenschnitte (shear' en--schnit--tah) is a German word for scissor cutting, the ancient craft of cutting paper into decorations. The earliest Germanic designs are from the mid- 1600s. Most of these designs depicted religious symbols, scenes, and repeated designs. The earliest designs came to America in the late 18th century and were found on birth certificates and love letters.

Since paper was looked upon as a luxury by the frugal housewife, all papers of useful size were carefully saved. Even newspaper was carefully stored as was common wrapping paper used by shopkeepers, “orange papers” (tissue thin paper in which fruits were individually wrapped) and white tissue paper. Different sized papers produced different uses for Scherenschnitte designs. They were used as shelf paper, (its decorated edge was folded over the shelf edge for all to see); small doilies (used to catch candle drips); large doilies (to place under cakes for special occasions) and over the edge of a mantle.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was common to see children cutting family designs as well as their own to be used as games. Sometimes they were known to line them up along the chair rail and have a parade or push them against moist windows to see the shadows they made. Some were used for bookmarks, book plates and at Christmas time, many trees were decorated with Scherenschnitte designs.

Scherenschnitte designs are usually cut on a single fold of white paper, opened at the fold, glued on a colored piece of paper, matted and framed. Some of the Swiss designs are free standing (two of the same design are cut and stitched back to back) which present a unique form of the art. Roland said she has adapted many of the flat designs to be free standing.


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