If you live in Wisconsin, try contacting the Polish Center of Wisconsin, the Polish Heritage Club of Madison, or other local Polish heritage groups. (Similar groups in other parts of the country can probably also provide information.) I’ve taken several workshops with Kasia Drake-Hames.
If you can’t find a class, don’t despair. It’s easy (and inexpensive) to get started.
I wanted to feature symmetrical flowers from central Poland’s Łowicz region in Tradition of Deceit, and I’ve learned a lot about this type of wycinanki on my own. Ornate flowers are made by layering different colors of paper.
When you’re starting out, it’s easiest to use printed patterns. I’ve found posts at Papermatrix particularly helpful. I also picked up a couple of vintage books.
After you’ve used someone else’s patterns for practice, it’s pretty easy to start experimenting with your own. Google wycinanki, study examples, and see what appeals to you.
When I design my own flowers, I use graph paper to help keep the diminishing sizes in order.
I started small by making simple wycinanki cards.
My big goal was to create a piece like one described in Tradition of Deceit, described as “Two very pretty chickens, flanking a bouquet of flowers, printed in vibrant colors.”
Roosters are very common, but I needed to create my own chicken pattern. I started by making a simple drawing, and then sketched in layers.
Then I transferred the layers to origami paper. You can see how some of the details evolved.
I wanted to have this piece finished before Tradition of Deceit was published. I wanted to have it finished before putting this post together. It’s still not complete…
That’s OK, though. I started with a very simple flower bouquet, but kept wanting to add more blossoms. Then I decided that the open space above and below the chickens needed to filled. The two flowers above the chickens haven’t been glued down yet because I’m still playing with ideas.
I’m sure more experienced paper cutters would have prepared a complete pattern layout before beginning. My piece has been growing more…shall we say…organically. (Hey, I don’t outline before beginning a novel, either.)
I’ve had a lot of fun with wycinanki, and if you’re so inclined, I hope you do to. And if you do try it, I’d love to see the results!