Paper master: Borland Gallery features scissor artist, author Jim Bornzin

September 2021 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community, People

By Brenna Wiegand

Jim Bornzin

Swallowtail on Pink & White

Silverton Arts Association is featuring the work of local artist Jim Bornzin, whose show, “Amazing Scissorcuts,” runs Sept. 10-26 at the Borland Gallery.

Bornzin became fascinated with the German art form of scissor cutting in high school after observing his cousin’s grandfather, Hans Bittner of Chicago, cutting an intricate design on paper using a small pair of scissors.

The well-known silhouette artist and commercial illustrator explained to Bornzin that scherenschnitte is an Old-World art that began as silhouettes and evolved into detailed scenes.  

A couple years later Bornzin picked up some scissors and became absorbed in the art form, though he had little time to devote to it then.

Jim married Carmen Stevens in 1966 and served as an ordained Lutheran parish pastor for 50 years. Besides being a husband, father and man of the cloth, Bornzin enjoyed exploring various art forms, including painting, novel-writing and poetry. In fact, he delivered a few sermons in verse alone.

Though he only had time for one or two cuttings a year, living in Oregon and Washington the past 50 years made mountains, lakes, deer and birds among his favorite subjects.

Bornzin retired in 2003 and eventually made his way to Silverton, where he designed and built the hexagon-shaped home that is perched atop the hill overlooking Coolidge McClaine Park.

“The design was carried out by David Leiken,” Bornzin said. “He did a beautiful job in construction and even allowed me to work on site.”

Bornzin studied engineering as a young man and seriously considered architecture as a career but since Northwestern University lacked a school of architecture, he completed a degree in science engineering.

“I worked as an engineering draftsman for many summers in high school and college and then decided to try the seminary for a year where I got hooked on the study of history and theology,” he said. “I wasn’t sure about becoming a pastor, but my classmates encouraged me, saying ‘you’re a caring person; please continue’ so I did.”

Nowadays he has more time to pursue the intricate and time-consuming art form in which large pieces can take up to two weeks to complete. Each one is cut from a single sheet of black paper though Bornzin sometimes cuts a second color as underlay to add depth or color, as in his “Swallowtail on Pink & White” scissorcut.

Bornzin enjoys the camaraderie and mutual encouragement that being a member of the Silverton Arts Association provides. He has shown at a couple of galleries; mostly in churches, and his works include some biblical scenes.

With a certain degree of suspense in “hoping the whole thing doesn’t fall apart when I’m cutting around the trees,” scissor cutting requires a great deal of concentration that the artist finds cathartic.

“It helps to block out all the other things on my mind, creating a space and time somewhat away from everything else,”
he said.

Bornzin has written three novels with a common theme that is the bedrock of Bornzin’s own Christian faith.

Terror at Trinity is the shocking story of two traumatic incidents that shake the tranquil atmosphere of church life.

“Despite tragedy and terror, God is at work behind the scenes, stitching together a community of forgiveness and faith, healing, hope and joy,” Bornzin said.

Next came Tales from Trinity, a story Bornzin refers to as a Lutheran patchwork quilt.

“Pastor Paul Walker’s family and church members are stitched together by God…” the artist said.

Blessed Are the Hungry tells of a starving young artist in Chicago looking for help marketing his paintings, leading to an unlikely alliance with his neighbors.

“Throughout the novel the caring and friendship between these characters continues to build,” Walker said. “In the process they end up helping each other to find hope, purpose, and love.”

‘Amazing Scissorcuts’

Sept. 10-26 at Borland Gallery,
303 Coolidge St., Silverton

Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 4 – 8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 – 4 p.m.

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