Karen Bit Vejle: Scissor Sister

A Nordic artist transforms paper into astounding panoramas.
Brangien Davis  |   March 2013   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Karen Bit Vejle
Karen Bit Vejle, a psaligrapher whose work is displayed at the Nordic Heritage Museum, with one of her paper-cut creations

It’s rumored that Danish poet and paper-cutting artist Hans Christian Andersen always kept a small pair of scissors on his person, just in case he was suddenly struck by the urge to snip out a scene.

Called psaligraphy, the art of paper cutting has long been a tradition in Denmark, where every spring, sweethearts exchange gaekkebrev—cards with a cut-paper snowflake inside.

It was gaekkebrev that gave Danish-Norwegian artist Karen Bit Vejle her introduction to paper cutting. Today, she crafts enormous, mind-boggling tableaus—so intricate they look like lace—using just simple scissors and large sheets of paper. Some scenes are humorous, others more serious, but all reveal her personal style.

The new exhibit Scissors for a Brush showcases her precision art alongside several original paper cuttings by fellow scissor savant Hans Christian Andersen.

Exhibit runs 3/22–6/16. Vejle leads special tours 3/22 and 3/23. Times and prices vary. Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St.; 206.789.5707; nordicmuseum.org