Last Thursday evening, I was blessed with a fabulous group of ladies who gathered at Alverno College to learn the traditional Polish form of paper-cutting, Wycinanki.
Say it with me... VI'-chee-NAHN-kee!
Wycinanki as an art form originated in Polish villages. Around Easter time, it was traditional for villagers to white-wash the walls of their homes. Apparently, those blank walls were not satisfying enough... at some point
somebody grabbed a pair of sheep shears (yup, really!) and whatever paper they had lying around the house, and a new art form was born.
I was fortunate to learn this art form from my Grandmother Ryszarda Klim at a young age. In fact, kids are usually great at this, with their nimble little fingers. Yes, memories of cutting Wycinanki on the living room floor in front of the TV abound. I consider it a privilege to teach this tradition today to adults and kids alike.
The work created by this most recent class was really something. For the Wycinanki Skill-building class, I basically teach the traditional paper-folding technique, demonstrate how to cut from a pattern I've created, and then let everyone loose to create their own designs.
Traditionally, Wycinanki are symmetrical in design; if a yellow dot is placed in one corner for example, then the corresponding corner across the piece will have an identical yellow dot. After explaining this to the class, I encouraged them to explore. After all, we were not using sheep shears, so we were already breaking from tradition.
The result was a collection of varied and innovative pieces. I learn something new from students in every single class I teach, and this one was no exception. Plus, their enthusiasm for the art form was positively infectious! Thank you Ladies, for a wonderful Thursday evening.