Paper cutting in China and Denmark

paper cutting by Chinese preschool teacher/artist

paper cutting by Chinese artist connected to laboratory preschool

There’s nothing like having a group of three- and four-year-olds as teachers.  Six years ago, when my husband and I visited schools in China, we got to spend a couple of hours in a lab preschool connected to a university.  The parents of the youngsters were university professors.

Paper-cutting, creating beautiful designs and scenes out of flimsy red paper, was part of the arts curriculum. Remember kindergarten scissors? The kind with rounded ends that worked best on tissue paper, also on other kids’ hair? The Chinese teachers armed these children with sharp-pointed ones. The teacher handed me a pair and instructed the four-year-old sitting next to me to teach me a lesson, which she did, though not in the way intended.  My good fortune came after a few vain tries, when the girl agreed to complete my assignment by cutting an animal figure for me in about a minute and a half out of a fresh sheet that I hadn’t had a chance to ruin.

papercut chicekn
The whole paper cutting adventure came back to me when a friend and I visited the Nordic Heritage Museum last week to see the exhibit, “Scissors for a Brush,” by Danish artist Karen Bit Vejle. Vejle uses large pieces of folded construction paper and cuts with sewing scissors. The precise name of her art is “psaligraphy.” Unlike the small sheets of paper I tested my lack of skills on in China, some of the pieces in this exhibit are four feet wide. All are so delicate that it’s hard to imagine cutting away as much of the original sheet as the artist does without tearing the piece to shreds in the process.

papercut lemonsAs lovely as the cuttings are the shadows they create on the museum walls. For anyone in the Seattle area the show is well worth a trip.

Despite differences in subjects, sizes and colors in the work of the artists in the two countries, both show fine craftsmanship.

Paper-cutting as well as sewing and creating sock animals are among the artistic pursuits that are off-limits for me. I’ll leave them to people with finer motor skills, those not afraid to run with scissors.


About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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2 Responses to Paper cutting in China and Denmark

  1. Donna says:

    What do you mean – sewing and creating sock animals are off limits? Never! Many hot ideas for the beautiful green and gold material residing here, left by someone who wanted to “do” something with it! 8-))

  2. Paper cutting: it looks so easy and it’s so darn hard. I took a stab (pun intended) at it once and stopped in total frustration. Maybe again when I’m in the nursing home . . .?

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