many of us, calligrapher Jean
Williams Murphy '37 often made paper snowflakes
when decorating for the holidays. But the simple
craft became an enchanting art form when she learned
to replace abstract shapes with people, animals, and
objects. Her cutouts, she discovered, could even tell
stories. "One of my earliest cutouts features the nursery
rhyme about the cow jumping over the moon," says Jean.
"I wondered what other nursery rhymes could be illustrated
in cutouts and found many to inspire me."
developed the theme as an exhibit for a newly constructed
library in her hometown of South Bend, Indiana. With
paper, scissors, and painstaking concentration, she
brought the rhymes to life in lacy shapes with six,
eight, and even 12 "repeats." Under each cutout, she
hand-lettered the corresponding rhyme.
The display was so admired that Jean was encouraged
to publish her collection. In 1999, 500 copies of Nursery
Rhymes in Cutouts and Calligraphy were published
by Mossberg & Company. "This has been the fulfillment
of a longtime dream and a legacy for my children and
grandchildren," she says.