Shavuot is a harvest holiday, a time to celebrate both the first gifts of the land, and the first giving of the Ten Commandments. As farmers, we are always vulnerable. The amount of sun and rain, combined with our own efforts, yields harvest. But we are at the mercy of the weather, and vulnerable to its effects. The dove, like the one in the paper cut below, is a symbol of vulnerability and renewal. Vulnerability because it is such a small bird, and renewal because it signaled the end of the Great Flood. The Star of David, or Shield of David has long been a symbol of Jewish Peoplehood. When combined with the dove, it signifies the balance of opposites of strength vulnerability, and combines those ideas with the renewal that comes with the growing season.
Click on the craft project below to download it and create your own beautiful cutout for Shavuot.
– A clean, flat work surface
– Sharp, smallish pair of scissors or
– Xacto knife and a self-healing cutting board/heavy cardboard on which to cut
– pencil for customizing the design
– glue stick or glue
– colored construction paper
1) Fold paper along the horizontal edge first, using the dotted line as a guide
2) Fold paper along the vertical edge second, folding the paper behind the design, so you have a square with the dove design on top
3) If desired, draw your own design in the middle of the star, keeping in mind that anything you cut out will be x4 when you open it up, and any white shapes cannot be totally surrounded by cut out space or they will fall out.
4) Start by cutting out the shaded triangle at the bottom right corner, following the solid lines.
5) From the top left opening, cut out the large shaded area around the dove, starting with the line of the star and working your way carefully around the dove and border. If using a knife, cut towards the points so they don’t get munched, and press firmly on the Xacto to cut through all 4 layers of paper. You can go over your cuts if you don’t go though all 4 layers at once. The dove’s eye can be poked out with the point of the Xacto or scissors.
6) If you created your own design in the star, cut that out carefully as well.
7) Slowly open up the folded paper, one fold at a time, bending the paper back along the edges to flatten the papercut. When opened, you can touch up any edges that didn’t get cut cleanly. Add more detail to it if you choose. You may also choose to cut off the border and only have the star. Your choice.
8) Choose a colored paper as your background. Dab small dots of glue or gluestick on the printed side (the back), then carefully turn it over so the clean white side is on top and lay it onto your colored background, smoothing out the sheet.
Voila! You can now proudly display your papercut on your fridge for all to admire! Happy Shavuot! 🙂
This activity was provided by Lisa Rauchwerger. Lisa Rauchwerger is an artist, writer and chef, specializing in Judaic papercuts, paper sculpture illustration, ketubot, (Jewish marriage contracts), graphics and calligraphy. She is the author and illustrator of the best-selling interactive family cookbook, Chocolate Chip Challah and other Twists on the Jewish Holiday Table, and its companion, The Chocolate Chip Challah Activity Book, vols. 1 and 2. Lisa holds a degree in Illustration/Graphic Design from CSU Northridge, with a minor in Jewish Studies. She learned papercutting from master papercutter Jerry Novorr back in the summer of 1987, at Brandeis Camp Institute in Simi Valley CA. Lisa has taught workshops in calligraphy, papercutting, and visual midrash, and has exhibited her artwork and been a guest speaker throughout the country. You can see more of Lisa’s work on her website, www.lisarauchwerger.com