Wycinanka Valentines

Wycinanka (pronounced VEE-CHEE-NON-KAH) is a Polish word that means paper-cut designs. For many years it has been a custom in Poland to paint brightly colored, repeated designs in a continuous pattern on the walls of buildings, both inside and out. Wycinanka art can also be used for making greeting cards.

Paper cutting and pasting is a form of folk art that probably dates back to about A.D. 105, when paper was first invented in Cathay (now China). In fact, in 1959, recognizable, ancient paper cuttings of monkeys and horses were unearthed at Kaochang, China.

To make some beautiful wycinanka valentines, you will need scissors, red paper, white paper, white tissue paper, pink or other colored paper (optional), glue, and crayons or felt-tip markers.

To make a simple heart, fold a square piece (any size you wish) of red paper in half and draw an outline as shown.

Cut along outline, unfold, and you will have a perfectly shaped heart and a heart-shaped cutout. Glue heart or heart-shaped cutout onto a slightly larger white square to make a pretty silhouetted valentine card. Write your own special message with crayon or felt-tip marker on heart.

Fancier hearts can be made by cutting out a double design (see illustration) and gluing it onto another piece of paper of a different color. Try combining pink with red and white for a pretty color combination.

A paper-cut flower design also makes a nice valentine card. Fold red paper in half and draw outlines as shown. After cutting out design, glue it onto front of folded piece of white paper (see illustration). On inside of card, write a personal message or a valentine poem.

For a different effect, fold paper twice to make four layers, and cut two identical hearts at the same time. Be sure to leave some of the folded edges intact as you cut so that pattern can repeat itself. Depending on how you cut, the two hearts will be joined either at the top or at the bottom (see illustrations).

Have you ever seen a round valentine design like the one shown here? By following the steps below, you can easily make this pretty wycinanka design.

  1. 1.

    Fold a 4″ (10 cm.) square of white tissue paper in half diagonally. Cut off the three pointed edges (see illustration) to form a half circle.

  2. 2.

    Fold half circle two-thirds of the way across, and then fold over the remaining side (see illustrations) to make six layers of paper in the shape of a piece of pie.

  3. 3.

    Now fold once more evenly down the middle so that you have twelve layers of paper. Using the design shown here, draw outline and cut out pattern.

  4. 4.

    Open folds carefully, press flat, and glue onto front of folded 4 1/2″ x 9″ (11.25 cm. x 22.5 cm.) piece of red paper. Glue a large white heart on inside page, and write your valentine message on it.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Stefanie Eskander