Antique Detective: Unique Paper Art, Old or New, Very Collectible

By Anne Gilbert
   There is nothing new about paper art be it sculptures or dollhouses or furniture. It has existed in many forms and in nearly every culture for hundreds of years. For example the Vietnamese have never stopped turning it into vases and bowls. These days they make it from newspapers. Japan is known for Origami (the Japanese term for paper folding).
   The Chinese are credited with inventing paper in the 2nd century. Korea began to make it by the sixth century. The Japanese put a different spin on it shortly thereafter creating sliding doors, fans, lanterns, toys and even clothing.
   Papermaking progressed westward through Central Asia and Persia. By the early 16th century decorative paper was created. It was painted, speckled, marbled, colored and stenciled. Many of these types were later adapted later in the West for books, box and drawer linings.
   During the 18th century new machinery and fibers developed in Europe made it possible for new uses.
   Paper cutting became an art form called “silhouettes” in France in 1757. In the days before daguerreotypes it was often into family images.
   However it is the delicate and lacy scissors-cut-outs that evolved into a unique art known as “Scherenschnitte,” the German word for scissors cutting, that became trendy by the early 19th century. Rare examples sell for thousands of dollars.
   By the late 19th century manufacturers were mass producing kits for making paper dollhouses, dollhouse furniture and figures, Chromolithographed paper over wood.
   CLUES: In the late 1980s there was a revival of interest in handmade papers that spread into paper sculpture, jewelry and other forms. Scherenschitte was revived and reproductions could be found in museum gift shops. However, the good news is that scissors art was always cherished. It can often be discovered between the pages of old books or scrapbooks.
   Collectors can look for old marbleized paper in secondhand bookstores and flea markets. They are being framed an hung as art.
   Very collectible are examples of 1980s paper jewelry and sculpture. These days there are paper sculpture artists around the world. The most famous works are priced in the thousands.
   PHOTO CAPTIONS: (1.) Scherenschnitte. Civil War. PHOTO CREDIT: Z and K Antiques PHOTO CAPTION: (2.) Contemporary paper sculpture by Toby Ziegleir PHOTO CREDIT: London Art News

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