BERLIN - A chance to learn how to make wycinanki, or Polish paper cutouts, will happen at the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library on Saturday, May 11, from 1 to 3 p.m.
The class will be sponsored by the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Diane Szepanski, of the Polish Genealogical Society. “It’s something I’ve never done it before.”
Wycinanki is a craft traditional to Polish culture that involves cutting a piece of paper, like a napkin or tissue paper , in a pattern that can be stretched out and repeat itself. The cutouts can be of a person, star or any other design.
According to the instructor of the course, Folk Art Consultant and Specialist Susan Urban, the cutouts date back to the 1850s, when farmers would hang sheep skins, after shearing sheep, in their windows to keep out the elements and would cut holes in them to let air and light in.
As paper became more available, the cutouts were transferred to that medium and became more embellished along the way and turned into lacy paper curtains, Urban said.
There are many regions throughout Poland that used particular styles of wycinanki, the two most common regions that were noted for developing the art were the Kurpie region in Northeast Poland and the Lowicz.
“A lot of people go to Poland to do this but they don’t have to go to Poland because we’re doing it right here,” said Szepanski.
The instructor has become an expert in teaching and presenting programs featuring Polish historical and art history themes, as well as a wide variety of Polish craft, culture and folk art activities, according to the library’s website.
Holding degrees in art, Urban has also received a specialized diploma in Polish Folk Arts from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.
The library is located at 234 Kensington Road and can be reached by phone 860-828-7125.
The library suggests bringing scissors and a glue stick to the program.
Paper will be supplied.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.