Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Art of Scherenschnitte

     I have been a Scherenschnitte  artist for over 27 years, much longer than I've been a story book illustrator.( I only began writing and illustrating story books a mere 5 years ago.) If you are not familiar with this beautiful old art form, allow me to introduce you to the very old art of papercutting, also known as Scherenschnitte ( roughly translated from German as "scissors snipping") The piece above is one I designed to become the end papers in my first book, it measures 12" x 24".  To create this piece, I used black paper on which I had drawn my design using a white  pencil. The image was set upon a self healing rubber mat and then meticulously cut out using a #11 exacto knife. The finished piece was then mounted upon a watercolor background. Except for putting ONE Papercutting in each book, I actually do the majority of my book illustrations as watercolor paintings, and am currently working on a new book.. BUT, I have set aside my book Illustrations for a short while in order to finish a few pieces of Scherenschnitte that have been gathering dust. Allow me to share:
I always cut through 3 layers of paper (my mass production). It just makes sense. On this piece, I used 2 layers of black paper and one piece of antique parchment.
Same cutting....
Completely different look.

   When the parchment papercutting is painted with watercolor, we have an ENTIRELY different look, altogether. I deliberately painted this piece in a naive and primitive, folk art style, using brighter colors than I normally do. This piece is 18"x24" and has in it: 14 cats, 6 geese. 14 cows, 8 sheep, 4 bear, 1 moose, 3 deer, 4 goats, 41 rabbits, 1 squirrel and 58 birds!
 But it is the piece below that I really wanted to finish as I have been using it as an unpainted sample for many years.
"The Basket Makers" measures 12" x14". Wherever you see black, that is where the paper has been cut away. The remaining silhouette is what I will be painting.

This little Nantucket basket in the lower left-hand corner is about 2" square. There are 325 openings of 3 cuts each, making that 975 single cuts in this basket alone. Thank goodness I have already cut it out!
I am ready to paint.
Yes, I know, my paints are a real mess, but that is just the 
way it is.
 I love these clay pots, all watercolorists should own one or two.

This will take a while, but bit by bit...
this piece...
Will come alive!
Here are some of my models.
After 40 hours of painting, I am finished.
It is very delicate.
I will mount this between 2 pieces of glass, set them upon a black matboard and place in an antique picture frame.
We will have offset lithographs made from both of these Scherenschnitte, but I am taking the originals to some special art shows in the Fall.
Now, I only have one more piece to paint! I'll show it to you next week, if my fingers don't fall off first.
 If you think you would enjoy this art form, follow these 2 links for a little lesson:


  1. Oh my goodness, so fantastic, and the time it must take, but O what a joy. cheers Marie


  3. Jeri, those are just beautiful and I can't decide which I like most. That's my favorite kind of dilemma! Your watercolor is the perfect finishing touch.

    All my scherenschnitte has been simple nursery rhyme illustrations done with bitty scissors. Using a craft knife had never occurred to me--I think I might have another craft for the frosty nights to come.

  4. Do you know, I think I originally found your website while Googling 'scherenschnitte' - they are just incredible. My paper cuts have always been very simple and graphic, I don't have the patience to do this kind of amazing, intricate work. (Your paint pallettes look as messy as mine do!)

  5. Jeri, Jeri, Jeri....I am blown away here....I am really taken back by your ability to do just about anything you want. AND to think that you have been doing this longer than your storytelling and illustrating of books...again, you are magic. I need to get my husband over here to INSPECT your work...he is a lover of animals as well and of fairytales. You rock Jeri!!!!! HEY, how are the animals? And Mavis Mud, how goes she? :)


  6. Good morning Jeri ~ Truly, amazingly beautiful! You are such a talented lady in so many areas. The time you take and the delicacy of these pieces is outstanding. Thank you for sharing these with us. I just can't imagine all the time that went into each one, when thinking of all those cuts for that one little basket alone, then 40 hours to paint. WOW! I love your colorful pallets to.

    Have a great holiday weekend ~ FlowerLady

  7. Jeri I am sitting here in awe - you are gifted in so many ways. I have seen some Japanese/Chinese work where they have made pictures using very thin pieces of cork but into shapes but nothing painted and using paper before. It looks so delicate but something to treasure.

  8. Jeri dear....thanks for your bright encouragement! I am planning out Tuesday at this moment while perusing my favorite places...you being one of them! Give Mavis a hug! If you can give poultry hugs.......heeee! Anita

  9. What a God gifted talent you have. Your work is just amazing!!!

  10. Ok lady, if I needed to feel more inadequate and un-talented I wouldn't have come onto your blog and seen this ! I may not even follow this blog anymore with such unbelievable talent displayed , now I feel worse than ever. But...I like you so much I'll be back. Once I get over this envy thing, take care, Gina

  11. Oh, You are all very, very nice to me. I hope you will give papercutting a try, it is much easier than you think. You can start with a simple design and still have a lovely piece, try it! Jeri

  12. Hi Jeri
    Oh my! You workmanship here is over the top! I am familiar with Scherenschnitte, but have never attempted. I am not sure if I would have the patience.. The amount of detail is overwhelming. Bravo to you! Exquisite work.

  13. Well Penny, I am a slave to detail, so this art form fits me like a glove. I think a lot of folk would find it quite tedious, but to me it is relaxing.

  14. Oh Jeri, the cuttings are beautiful! Thanks for letting us see them take shape! Would you mind if I post a link on my Facebook page?

    Kim Frey :-)

  15. Kim, Thank you for the compliment from a fellow paper cutting artist. That would be fine with me.

  16. I have admired your paper cuttings before. When I first saw your fabrics in the Makower.Andover studio, this lead me to your website about four years ago?

    I was speechless then and I am equally lost for words now! WOW !

    re your comment on my blog - My husband says that he would be happy to narrate your stories anytime.

  17. Valerie. Yes, that was about 4 or five years ago that I designed for Andover. Those fabrics were derived from my cuttings. And you design for Makower, right?
    Yeah! Your husbands voice is divine!-

  18. Ohhh myyy...the creativity and fine hand work that goes into creating such delicate art boggles my mind. I've seen framed scherenschnitte in antique shops, but I'm afraid I don't have the patience for it. I'll continue to enjoy the lovely creations you share.

  19. Theresa, As a gardener, you possess vast amounts of patience! I am now working on a paper cutting which is dedicated to all gardeners. I will post it soon.

  20. Jeri ~ How very beautiful your work is! I have never seen such intricate and detailed scherenschnitte. I have e-mailed this to some friends who will love your work, also. You are certainly an amazing artist! Cassandra ♥

  21. Cassandra, You have a Scherenschnitte "Lords Prayer" on your blog border and I once asked you if my name was on it, remember? I adapted a pattern very similar to your "Lords Prayer" from a early 2oth century fretwork piece. It was a long time ago and one of the first things I ever cut.

    1. Ms. Landers: You mention a "Lords Prayer" cutting. My husband and I gave one to my MIL many (many!) years ago. It was long about 6 years ago when her home was burned to the ground. She lost just about everything. Would you have any idea how/where I can find another? She would be THRILLED to have it "back".
      Angel Netecke
      Simpsonville, SC

  22. Wow, I hardley know what to say. I can't even emagine the depth of patience you must have. How do you keep you tool sharp all the time?

    Big Hugs

  23. I happened on to your blog this morning.
    I love the Scherenschnitte!

  24. Hi Jeri
    I'm a few months late to this post, but I have been browsing. I have a fun art challenge with my friend each month, and this month's theme is 'a new idea' , I think you've just given me mine!!!

  25. Absolutely amazing kind of art! It seems very difficult and time-consuming! Marvellous! Greetings from Bulgaria!

  26. Hello Jeri and Friends,
    I recently found two lovely original Paper Cuttings by Jeri. They are some of her early work (1991), titled "Windy Wash Day" and "The Cows in the Corn". They are hanging in my country kitchen and every time I look at them I smile. Thank you, Jeri, for your inspiration and your artistry, and the amazing patience you have to put it all together. Your art makes the world a better place. Bill in Canada


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