Friday, September 9, 2011

Design Inspiration - Scherenschnitte

I indulged in a picture book from Amazon that I'd been drooling over and it arrived in all it's splendor today.
Brother Sun,Sister Moon

Being a life long Mormon from an all Mormon family that goes back five or seven generations I've spent a lot of my life pretty ignorant of rituals and writings of other religions.  You have to live under a rock though, not to have heard of Francis of Assisi, or, St. Francis if you are Catholic. Born about 800 years ago he is said to have been the first to have a Christmas Nativity Scene, (His was live) so I can thank him for my love for Nativity Scenes.  Near the end of his life (in 1226) he wrote a song of praise commonly called the "Canticle to the Sun".  Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved ) who if we made Saints in the literary world she would be a big one, has "reimagined" the text of this prayer. It's paired with the jaw dropping illustrations of Pamela Dalton and the whole makes me glad to be alive.  Pamela Dalton is a Scherenschnitte (pronounced shear-n-SNIT- a) artist.  Scherenschnitte is the art of papercutting started by the German/Swiss in the 16th century and brought to American in the 18th century where the Pennsylvania Dutch made it their own. If you accordion folded a piece of paper and cut out paper dolls holding hands you've done a rudimentary bit of Scherenschnitte.  But  nothing like Ms. Dalton.
“We praise you for our Brother Sun, who in his radiant dawning every day reminds us that it was you who brought forth light.”
 She hand sketches the design and then cuts it out of one whole piece of paper.  Sometimes she folds it to create mirror images.  She then stains the paper with coffee and colors it with watercolors.  The process makes the paper curl up so she irons it several times in the process.  It's then mounted on black so the image stands out.
“For this life and the life to come, we sing our praise to you. O Lord, the Father and Mother of all creation. Give us, we pray, the grace to honor you this day
and forever more.”
The whole book is beautiful, and tender.  St. Francis (I guess a non Catholic can call him that) praises God for "Sister Wind" and  even "Sister Death".  He thanks God for people who forgive each other! Throughout, Dalton's illustrations show sweet German peasant children and lots of forest creatures.

Available in November
As if this wasn't enough - while looking for info on Pamela Dalton I discovered this! The wish list just keeps getting longer.

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