Monday, November 22, 2010


I recently presented at a Early Childhood Education conference in Edmonton, the theme of my session was Multicultural Art Techniques.  One of the techniques I discussed was Wycinanki or Polish paper cutouts. There are lots of examples in google images.

This "Tree of Life" theme is quite common, a symmetrical cutting done on the fold.
I also talked about amate cutouts from the Otomi people of San Pablito, ( Art for Small Hands recently did a post), which is also a symmetrical cutting.

These Wycinanki designs  were used to decorate the freshly white washed walls of farmer's homes in the spring in preparation for Easter.
I think they look terrific at any time and it's amazing what you can create with the simplest of materials. (Paper, glue, and scissors)

Not all Wycinanki is symmetrical "cut on the fold". 

This turkey (for all of you in the USA this week) which could easily be a Rooster or Peacock, it is also a very traditional design.

A symmetrical design is a good way to get started.  Take a piece of black paper, fold, and trace out a design using white crayon, pencil, or colored pencils.

If you want to use my designs you can find them here:

Tree of Life 1
Tree of Life 2
Turkey, Rooster, or Peacock

Now with young kids trying to cut this design can be difficult so I am all for cheating.  We will glue this fringe back into place at the end and this makes it so much easier!

On the pattern you will see where you can cut this decorative fringe frame section off so you can cut the inner design.

Fringe frames are quite common designs, many Wycinanki have quite elaborate ones and often more than one. 

For this fringe cut little "teeth" into the outside edge. 

Glue your design onto a backing paper.  Here I'm using white as it contrasts so nicely with my black cutout.
Glue the fringe back into place and no one will be the wiser.

Now it's time to add some color.  To mimic a painted folk art design add bits of colored paper, layering as you go.

If you fold your colored paper and cut 2 shapes at the same time you can keep that symmetrical look.

Glue and let dry.  Place a piece of wax paper on top and place a heavy book on your design to help it dry flat.

That's it.

Once you start let's see if you can just stop at one...I have some ideas for some Christmas themed ones so check back for the templates.

See you next time.


  1. You amaze me. Every week when I check your blog, it's like Christmas morning. Although all lessons I am not able to try just yet, I love seeing the projects and reading through the steps. So, thank you!

  2. I love this, but we are not able to access your links!

  3. I liked this tutorial. Nice presentation.I am a
    follower of your blog.Please do visit mine

  4. These are so beautiful. Thanks for giving your Christmas ideas. My mind was just beginning to roll on how to adept it for Christmas.

  5. I reset the templates for public access so hopefully everyone can get thru to them on google docs.

  6. I think they are lovely! I can't wait to make one!

  7. These are beautiful! Thanks for sharing the lesson.

    Kate Eshelman

  8. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [23 Nov 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  9. Amazing! Anyone could create this beauty with time a few supplies.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. I love folk art. Thanks for opening this door!

  11. HI Gail, I have seen this Folk art before. I absolutely love. I can't wait to see your Christmas example. Thank you for such a wonderful idea. Regards Anna

  12. Wonderful! We'll be making a tree of life this week! Thanks for the beautiful tutorial!

  13. I am a Creative Arts teacher at a therapeutic day school for children/adults with ASD and I must say that I am always impressed with your lessons and have been able to adapt many of them to my student's unique needs.

    Thank you so much for your detailed instructions because it makes it so easy to create a schedule for my kids to follow and they are having a BLAST!!! Keep on creating!!!!!!

  14. Love d way u simplify different forms & styles of art & re-create them with simple material. U r an inspiration,Gail!