Leona Barthle - Polish wycinanki

Master: Leona Barthle, Sioux Falls
Apprentice: Karen Wunder-Colestock, Sioux Falls
Art Form: Polish wycinanki (papercutting)

Leona Barthle has been a fixture in eastern South Dakota for many years, enthusiastically sharing her knowledge of the art of Polish papercutting, called wycinanki, with apprentices and school children. She learned the art as a child in the Polish community of Granville. For this apprenticeship she worked with Karen Wunder-Colestock, a teacher who says she has known Leona “all her life.” Karen hopes to incorporate wycinanki in her high school English classes when they read a story about Polish immigrants. Leona Barthle passed away only a month after she finished this apprenticeship, active and creative to the end, and a beloved member of South Dakota’s cultural community.

Polish wycinanki master Leona Barthle with one of her own designs, incorporating  her favorite prairie rose pattern.

Leona Barthle (woman) with papercutting design (red flowers with green leaves and black stems)

Leona Barthle and Karen Wunder-Colestock working on a wycinanki piece, cutting individual colored parts to layer onto the finished design.

Karen Wunder-Colestock (seated at table) and Leona Barthle (standing at right, behind) working on a wycinanki piece