During MOTHER EARTH NEWS' recent Scandinavian Crafts Tour, our travelers had the opportunity to meet with many of Finland and Denmark's top designers and craftspersons. The visits were thrilling, but of course—no matter how inspired we were—most of us couldn't imagine trying to tackle the projects shown to us by the artists.
When we arrived in Copenhagen, however, we found that some of the hottest selling items in the city's famous craft shops were small window and wall hangings made mostly of construction paper. Here, we realized, was an art fitting the abilities and budgets of a large number of people. The sophisticated versions of the paper snowflakes that often adorn school classrooms weren't inexpensive, either! Though they ranged from only five to ten inches high, the popular pieces sold from $4.35 to $7.15 each.
A Genius at Work
That experience was enough to set those of us with entrepreneurial inclinations to thinking. Then—while visiting Creative Island Courses, a crafts school on the tiny, lovely Danish island of Aero—we met Solveig Luntang-Jensen, who has gone a step further in creating spectacular pieces of paper cutting art.
A former potter, Solveig gave up that craft when she suffered liver damage from some of the chemicals used in ceramic work and turned, instead, to weaving. But one day, as the Dane tells it, she became extremely annoyed at her family over some minor matter. So she picked up a pair of scissors that her husband, a veterinarian, uses in delicate eye surgery and expressed her anger by clipping out a grotesque hobgoblin face from a sheet of black construction paper. (She's still fond of such designs, but today the faces are those of decidedly cheerful demons.)
Now, Solveig's large and intricate "paper paintings"—incorporating symbols from Scandinavian mythology and created with unbelievable speed—sell (unframed) for between $200 and $300 each, and the Danish media have lavished attention on this artist and her work.
To our delight, we found that Ms. LuntangJensen lives just across the road from the ancient thatched-roof inn that was our group's home on Aero. And one evening the gracious lady invited the tour members to her beautiful house for cake and wine. She furnished us with scissors, paper, and encouragement ... and—to our surprise and pleasure—some of our craftsfolk produced their own charming designs on the very first try.
It's unlikely that many people will be able to approach the beauty and intricacy of Solveig's work, but (since the only requirements for this craft are imagination, a small pair of pointed scissors, paper, and perhaps some glue) experimenting with your own original versions of paper art should be fun, and provide a challenging way to pass some of the long, dark winter days ahead.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Paper Cut-Out Design Book by Ramona Jablonski (Stem met House Publishers, Inc., Dept. TMEN. 2627 Caves Road. Owings Mills, Maryland 21117. . . $7.95 plus 86¢ shipping and handling) is an excellent source of instruct—or and ideas for creating and adaptingsigns from American, Europeanand Japanese folk art.