Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Scherenschnitte cuts to heart
BY CINDY HUMMEL, Correspondent
Kathleen Homer, a Washington State native, moved to Lancaster County about 15 years ago to be closer to her sister, Martha.
Here, she fell in love with scherenschnitte, a Pennsylvania German art of paper cutting.
On Sunday, Homer instructed eight women on how to do three scherenschnitte projects. Profits went to the Strasburg Heritage Society.
Homer said that just about everyone has done scherenschnitte without knowing it. Remember cutting snowflakes out of folded paper?
The class participants started by cutting colorful tissue paper with small scissors to make tutus for a character named Sharon Schnitte, who resembles a ballerina and can "predict" the weather when placed outside. If the ballerina's tutu is frozen, for example, it is cold.
The class moved on to Valentines, cut with utility knives. Participants cut lines with scissors and knives on printed pink card stock. Homer demonstrated how to add a tassel.
By pulling gently on the tassel, one can create a 3-dimensional effect and perhaps see a photo below. On the front of the Valentine, participants can write a message and apply paint or drops of bleach for decoration.
The most challenging project was a recreation of a vintage Valentine that includes spaces for 20 verses.
Homer said old examples of scherenschnitte Valentines were from men to women. A smitten young man of generations gone by could not just pick up a mass-produced card with verse. He would cut folded paper.
When opened, the Valentine revealed a design that left open spaces for verses he would create to express his feelings. A friend or relative would deliver the Valentine to the appropriate girl.
The ending verse would always provide instructions on how to respond. Some asked the recipient to return the Valentine if uninterested.
"If that you do me disdain. Return this card. My love is in vain," reads the final verse on Homer's example.
A Valentine from about 1920 included four ribbons. The girl who received the card read instructions in verse on how to respond. The author asked her to return the white ribbon if she was interested in him.
The white ribbon on the card was missing, perhaps indicating a happy ending.
Tammy Collier of Conestoga said she took the class because she admired scherenschnitte and wondered how difficult it was to do.
"It was hard," Collier said, "but not as hard as I thought."