Making German paper cut sculptures

TISDALE — Artist Jessica Richter hosted a workshop at the Tisdale Community Library, showing community members how to make scherenschnitte paper cut sculptures.

Scherenschnitte is a German art form where silhouettes are cut from one piece of special black paper with scissors or knives, creating a picture.

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“My family is German, so I started doing it as a way to reconnect with my family’s heritage and tell stories,” Richter said.

 “I’m not very good with scissors so I kind of changed and updated it a little bit so I do almost three dimensional drawings using paper cutting and whatever materials I have on hand.”

For Richter, scherenschnitte represents her German-Canadian identity.

“I’m really interested in German-Canadian identity in post-World War II Canada, because for my family that’s when we immigrated. I like to think about how that identity is formed, how it’s maintained and you know it’s a good way to think about how so many of us are from different countries and how we maintain our culture or choose not to.”

Richter said for her own art, she’s inspired by folk and fairy tales.

“There’s something really meditating about paper cutting that I really like doing. It makes me think about drawing in a different way.”

She said anyone can do it at home, and encourages others to try it – even if they don’t have German heritage.

Richter said she started learning how to do scherenschnitte from watching videos at home.

“From there I taught myself. There’s really no substitute for practice and trial by error I’m afraid. Sometimes you have to keep going and going and you look at the first thing you did and you’ll think, ‘that’s awful’ and you realize how far you’ve come simply by practicing and practicing.”

The workshop was alongside the scherenschnitte Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Council’s display being hosted at the library for the public to view from Feb. 4 to 19. The display featured works from Richter, as well as the artist Waltraude Stehwien.

“Traditions die unless we rediscover them and pass them on,” Richter said. “It’s fun and not a lot of people do it, so it can be a great way for people to think about drawing in a different way.”

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