How to Make Paper OrnamentsSeptember 1st, 2008 in sewing, patterns & designs, paper crafts, holidays
As someone who's folded 1,000 origami paper cranes, made miles of paper garland, and crafted individual paper shades for seven strings of holiday lights, I can say with some authority that if you're planning on creating crafts for the holidays, now is the time to begin work on those projects! Granted, Labor Day may seem a bit early to begin, but in my experience, things frequently take longer to complete than one anticipates. In the case of the 1,000 origami cranes mentioned above, I got that harebrained (birdbrained?) idea one year shortly after Thanksgiving. Making a paper crane is relatively simple, I thought, so how hard could it be to make 1,000 of them?
The truth is, it's not hard, not at all, but it is time consuming and there's the rub. After the first evening of folding (in front of the TV) I had a total of 15 cranes completed. A little bit of math revealed that was just over 1/10 of 1 percent of the full project. A little more math (of the slightly more complicated type) revealed that at my current rate of production, I would complete my project somewhere around February 4 of the following year! Yikes.
Not being the sort of person to give up (or listen to reason), I proceeded to increase my production output. I folded cranes on the subway, at the deli, in waiting rooms, at dinner, while watching TV, and walking to appointments. I fielded questions about what I was doing, and the subsequent question, "Why would anyone want to?" I withstood a lot of sidelong glances, a few quizzical stares, and one patently aggressive slur, but I could not be deterred. The project became my own personal Labor-of-Hercules, with myself in the role of demigod.
By mid-December, as I passed the halfway mark, I realized the task was substantially larger than anticipated. Yes, I had to make another 500 cranes, but I would also have to rig up something to hang each of them by. That meant using a quilling needle to make a perfectly positioned hole through each crane's body and threading a metallic cord through the hole and tying it off with a knot.
The rest of the story you can write yourself: I did nothing but work on cranes; I grew irritable and withdrawn, and I suffered from a precipitous lack of sleep in the last weeks leading up to Christmas.
The result? Well, much to the relief of myself and my friends, I met my goal late Christmas Eve. However, the truth of the matter is, 1,000 cranes on a Christmas tree looked nothing like I'd imagined. One friend said, gently, that I could have achieved the same effect by taking a bushel of spitballs and tossing them into the branches. A neighbor's little girl was less kind—if more honest—when she asked, "Why didn't you do something pretty, like put Christmas ornaments on your tree? We got ours at Wal-Mart; you can borrow some."
Wal-Mart, I dare say, is not the answer, but I do think it's important to have fun while you craft. When it becomes "work," the fun often drains away. To keep things on the happy side of that division, I have since made it a rule to begin all of my holiday craft projects on Labor Day. I take my time doing as much (or as little) as I can up until Thanksgiving. After that, I stop crafting and take the entire month of December off to enjoy friends, family, food, and the fruits of my labors. I've given up on the idea of homogeneously decorated trees. I now prefer, instead, to make a dozen or two new paper ornaments every year. A dozen or two is enough to keep me busy but not bored, and over the years, I've managed to amass quite a wonderful, if eclectic, collection of paper confections that I delight in unpacking and hanging on my tree each year.
So, as a kickoff to the season, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recipes for holiday ornaments. These balls—really more like "twisted orbs"—are fun and easy to make. With a little prep work (or some supervision), they are even appropriate for 8- to 14-year-olds as well as adults.
Please let me know if you enjoy this project. I have a few other tree decorations that I could write up instructions for if the spirit of the season seems to take hold here among the CraftStylish readers. Of course, please post pictures of your own projects in the gallery. One of the nicest, and most helpful, things for me is seeing how this community of crafters take my suggestions and improve on them. I'm learning so much from all your feedback and I am grateful for it.
And, while it may be early, let me be the first to say, Happy Holidays.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!