As you look for ideas to create your own Wycinanki, keep a folder, preferably an expanding-pocket file. In this, slip items for future use, whenever you come across them.
Go through the Sunday newspapers for pictures you can adapt. The best single source I have found is the auction page, where you may find weathervanes, country furniture, and other rustic household items. These are already on a scale you can use with little modification. Cut out possible figures and mount them on large index cards.
Look for animals: cows, running horses, bulls, pigs, rocking horses, deer, cocks, black birds, ravens, ducks, and swans. Find examples of house and farm implements: flax wheels, butter churns, simple cradles, spades and shovels, weaving looms, and country stools and benches. Look for reproductions of early samplers, family registers, and mourning pictures in the antique or auction columns, as these can be incorporated in tree or flower compositions.
Now check the stamp page and the garden section. Eany potential designs are there. Garden items will sometimes show line drawings of wildflowers that can be used in silhouette.
Photography contests that are covered in newspapers and magazines often have handsome trees that can be used. In addition, look in the help wanted section for national trade marks, some of which are shown in stark and elegant symmetry. These trademarks make wonderful repeated designs. Sometimes it is possible to find as many as eight or ten in a single Sunday paper. Afte they have been adapted to Wycinanki, you will find it hard to pick out and identify the original source. The design illustrated (fig.****) shows just a few of the elements that came through newspaper treasures. I have used some of them many times.
Now look for magazine items on animals and nature and cut them out. Seek writeups on livestock judging at country fairs. In the magazine Horticulture (September 1969) 1 found a wonderful article on Espalier trees that has yielded many materials. Another of my favorite designs came from a newspaper item on identifying ground-cover weeds. It inspired the little scal1oped leaves I frequently use.
The cover of a National Rifle Association magazine displayed a handsome European rifle, with repousse engraving. This was where I found an outline of the European red squirrel I use often. Another National Rifle Association issue provided an image of a lovely standing brown bear.
While visiting a library, look up pictures of costumes in the reference section. Many libraries provide photocopying facilities at low cost. Alternatively, make sketches on index cards. Be sure to indicate on the back of the card or photocopy the library, volume, and page number of the source, in case you need to look at the original again.
Tapestries, embroideries, rugs, hangings, and bands of weaving all offer possibilities. My Double Eagle design (fig.****) source was a beautiful emroidered Polish saddle cloth which had been used in rural weddings. I purchased it many years ago from a Boston antique shop. The original was of wool homespun, slightly quilted on the underside. The eagles were on decorated saddlebag flaps.
Design possibilities are everywhere: my Alva design (fig.****) was adapted from the package decorations on a chocolate drink can. So collect and file, and you will always have inspiration at your fingertips.
Copyright © 1997, 2008 Sheldon Brown and Arlene Eskilson