Friday, 27 March 2015

The Swiss art of découpage

On leaving the house of my German teacher on Tuesday my eye caught sight of a frame containing four beautiful creations of découpage.

The minor miracle that is the art of découpage involves meticulously cutting lace like patterns  into black paper with scissors or a scalpel and then laid onto a white background. The design often depicts a Swiss idyll in the tradition of the two great masters Johann-Jakob Hauswirth (1809-1871) and Louis Saugy (1871-1953) who came from the village of Château d-Oex. Hauswith was a poor woodcutter who gave his cuttings to families as thanks for a meal given in exchange for his daily labours. Ignored for more than 40 years after his death, their artistic value was finally recognised during a chance visit to the valley by a museum curator who noticed the creations hung up on the wall of people's houses. 

The village of Château d-Oex is located halfway between Gstaad and Gruyère in the valley of the Pays-d'Enhaut and over the years earned this corner of the Swiss canton of Vaud a global reputation as a center of excellence in découpageHowever, it has now spread to the whole of Switzerland and the Swiss association has more than 500 members.

There is no school in Switzerland teaching the art so it is often practised by self-taught independent artists, most of which will have another source of income. 

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