Folk art plays a role in most of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Since Tradition of Deceit features bits of Polish culture, I decided to include wycinanki—the Polish form of paper cutting.
Wycinanki (pronounced vee-chee-non-kee) originated in the 1800s when shepherds passed quiet hours by snipping designs from leather or tree bark. Soon people were making intricate designs from paper, and pasting them on the walls or roof beams of their homes.
In the way-back days, folk artists used sheep shears to cut their designs.
Distinct styles emerged from different regions of Poland. Cuttings from the Kurpie region are often quite intricate, and usually a single color.
Wycinanki from Łowicz in central Poland is made by layering different colors. The example below most closely matches the wycinanki I imagined Magdalena making in Tradition of Deceit.
Circular or star-shaped medallions are called gwiazdy.
Artists have continued to develop the art of wycinanki. Masters produce amazingly intricate designs.
While writing Tradition of Deceit I enjoyed several workshops with artist Kasia Drake-Hames, seen here with her grandmother (left) and mom (right). Kasia’s grandmother makes exquisite traditional wycinanki…
..while Kasia often adds a modern twist.
From simple cuttings made with sheep shears to amazingly detailed pieces painstakingly snipped with scissors, wycinanki has a rich history—and colorful—history.