By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS
In Alice Falk's hands it only takes a few seconds for a piece of paper to become a giraffe, an angel or a bird. Give her a little while longer, and with her scissors Alice will complete a manger scene.
Alice's ears may have lost their edge, she is a bit hard of hearing, but her mind and her scissors have not.
For Alice, 84, cutting paper into shapes is a gift from God. It is a gift that may seem small, almost unremarkable, until one sits next to Alice and watches her cut.
From memory, Alice will cut the shape of anything one asks with attention to the small details, details others might forget. Small notches are made on the legs of the giraffe, giving shape to the hooves, other movements of her scissors give shape to the wings of the bird and angel.
Alice, currently a resident at Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center, grew up on a farm four miles southeast of Winsted. During her adult years she lived in Lester Prairie.
It was back on the 80 acre farm, when she was six or seven years old, that Alice started cutting the shapes of farm animals from newspaper.
"I started with just the heads. At about 13 or 14, I started cutting the whole body," she said. "I'd cut out the horses and cows and chickens and birds. Everything we had on the farm."
"I don't know why I do it," Alice said, and she doesn't remember what gave her the idea to cut shapes in the first place, but it was a good use for old newspaper.
"I didn't know about construction paper. I just used the newspaper the farmers got everyday," she said.
Alice's cutting takes place anytime during the day, and she is always prepared when the mood strikes. In a pouch tied to her wheelchair Alice carries a scissors, its blade protected by a cardboard sheath, and paper. She likes to cut up to an hour and a half per day and has cut around 20 figures at one sitting. Her favorite medium is colored paper and some of those figures end up as gifts for Alice's friends.
By far, the favorite thing for Alice to cut out is the manger scene, and she gets $5 for each one she sells. Her scenes include not only the traditional characters, but Alice adds the palm trees. Again, its her attention to detail.
The Bible is an inspiration for other figures. "I have a Bible with big color pictures and I go by that. Little pictures wouldn't do me any good," she said. "The 'Rugged Cross' is tricky because you have the three crosses with the men on them," she said.
She doesn't limit herself to religious material, she likes to cut out anything "that's good." "I don't know why I do this. When I see something, I just think about how it could be cut (from paper)," Alice said.