Friday I hosted a craft class for 8- to 12-year-old girls. We studied the German art of paper cutting, otherwise known as scherenschnitte, and completed a couple of super simple projects.
I’ve long loved this craft, so I started the class by showing the girls several examples of scherenschnitte I’ve made for my home over the years. As you can see, many of these examples are variations on a heart theme. Hearts are a very popular motif for Scherenschnitte — and also for wedding anniversaries.
Since my husband and I married while we were both still in school, we had to live on a shoestring budget for the first decade of our marriage. So most of my early gifts to him were either scherenschnitte hearts I cut out (a very economical craft — paper’s cheap) or poems I’d written (again for the price of a piece of paper plus a little time).
Supplies needed for doing scherenschnitte
small, sharp scissors
You just need something small with sharp points and (preferably) slightly curved blades. When I was first learning this craft, I used a pair of nail scissors. Later, I bought some craft scissors made especially for fine detailed work and paper cutting. For the purposes of teaching this girls’ class, I got these economical but nifty little folding scissors.
You can try cutting freehand if you like, but will probably achieve better results by following a pattern, especially for very detailed designs. I’ve included two super simple scherenschnitte patterns in this post, perfect for beginners. One is a bouquet of flowers and the other is a charming little house.
You can mount your completed design on whatever backing you choose. I’ve used fabrics such as velvet or taffeta for mounting or matboard or scrapbook paper. Both the designs in this post are the perfect size for mounting on 4″ x 5.25″ blank note cards.
Use a can of spray adhesive for mounting your finished design onto your background of choose. It is much easier and less messy to use than plain white glue (although that’ll work in a pinch, too).
If you plan to frame your design, I recommend shopping garage sales and thrift stores for suitable frames, inexpensively priced.
Instructions for doing scherenschnitte
- If you are cutting a symmetrical design (like the super simple scherenschnitte patterns in this post), fold along the (dashed) center line with the pattern facing out. This printed side will be the back of your picture, so don’t worry if you don’t cut exactly on the lines. They won’t show once you glue the design to your backing.
- If your design is not symmetrical, you’ll have to cut without folding.
- Always start with the smallest parts on the inside of the design and cut those first. For the patterns in this post, you’d begin with the teardrop shapes inside the flowers and bow on the bouquet, or the window panes in the house design.
- Continue cutting all the finest detail work before moving on to larger sections. This gives more support when you’re cutting the tricky parts and makes it less likely you’ll tear your design than if you do the bigger sections first.
- Once you’ve finished all the cutting, carefully unfold your design, take it outside, lay it on the ground or on a piece of scrap paper and spray the back (printed side) lightly with adhesive.
- Center the design on your backing material and smooth it down, working from the inside out. Now you’re ready to pen a note and send it in the mail or put it in a frame to hang on the wall of your home!
Two super simple scherenschnitte patterns
For my craft class, we made this super simple Scherenschnitte Bouquet.
Each copy yields four designs. We put our finished designs on blank note cards. Didn’t they turn out nicely?
I told the girls I’d put an extra design on the blog for them, in case they wanted to continue practicing at home. She here’s a super simple scherenschnitte house, as well:
And a picture of a finished example, which I mounted horizontally on another blank note card: