Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Paper Star Christmas Decorations

This post was originally featured on Dobbie's blog, on 7th December 2010, but the blog link is no longer active.  Part Two of the Tutorial can be found here.

It’s nice to make some of your own decorations at Christmas - to have something a bit different and special. 
This tutorial shows you how to make some Star decorations from strips of paper.  You can attach a ribbon or string, to hang them up, or else leave this part out and use them as gift bows for presents, or just stick them up on the wall.

* * *

Equipment and Materials

You will need a few supplies to make these stars. 
The more specialised items I used are readily available from craft and art shops, also from online retailers. However, many items could be found at sewing shops, stationers and even market stalls.  You don’t need to spend a fortune to make these ornaments and could possibly use items you already have at home.
You need some patterned or coloured paper.  I used 12” square sheets of scrapbooking paper (available from craft and art shops), which were printed with Christmassy designs on one side.  They also come in 6” and 8” square sizes. You can also find double-sided, stiffer scrapbook papers, which would save sticking paper strips together.
You could use plain coloured paper or thin card, even gift-wrap, magazines or newspaper.  If the paper is quite thin, you’ll need to stick two layers together, or stick them to a card base, to make them stiff, so the decorations will hold their shape. 
281110_MaterialsTo decorate the stars and allow you to hang them up, you’ll need some thin ribbon, yarn, string or similar.  The ribbon I used is a double-sided satin, which is 3mm wide.  Choose colours to tone with your papers. 281110_Materials_2
I used coloured “brads”, or paper fasteners for my stars, to fix them together, but they can also be assembled with glue and/or by sewing or stapling through the various layers. Buttons can be used to decorate the glued or stitched stars.
Coloured ink pads, or some brush-tipped felt pens, are useful to give the edges a nice finish.  These are not essential though.
You need something to cut your paper with – ideally a paper cutter, like the one shown, or else a sharp craft knife, metal ruler and cutting mat.  Use a ruler to measure your strips and a pencil to mark before cutting, to help you keep your paper strips even and tidy. 
If you only have scissors, try to find a biggish, sharp pair, as this will give the best result.  Draw a cutting line with your pencil and keep the top blade lined up with this as you cut.  Use nice, long cuts, without cutting right to the hinge or tip of the blades, to avoid snags and nicks in the edges.
You also need a good-quality glue, suitable for paper.  I use a “tacky glue” made from PVA.  It has a small nozzle, which makes it easier to place the glue where I want it and it dries quite fast.  It is very sticky and also doesn’t wet the paper too much (unless you use loads).  I keep a rust-free pin in the nozzle of my glue and store it upside down, so there are no problems with it drying up and blocking the nozzle.281110_Paper_Clips
If you find it tricky to hold things still, while you mark or fix them, you may want to use clips, or even staples to hold everything in place while you work. 
* * *

Making your Stars

1) To make 6”/ 15cm wide stars, using 12” scrapbook paper
Cut four strips in your chosen paper, each 1” / 2.5cm wide.  If you have decided to use two different papers, back to back, then you need two strips of each.
2) Glue your strips together.
If you already have double-sided stiff paper, or card, then you may want to omit this step.
To glue your strips back-to-back, apply glue to one strip, then spread it thinly with a piece of card, or glue spreader.  Do not make the paper too wet with glue – you only need a thin layer, especially at the edges.
Carefully and quickly, line up the second strip, press it on top and then smooth it down well, to avoid creases or air bubbles.
3) Decorate the edges.
The edges of the paper probably won’t quite match and you’ll have a white strip along the edge; even if you are using double-sided paper, you may have a white cut-edge showing.  You can ink the edges, to disguise the white bits and make it look decorative.
Stroke or lightly tap an ink-pad along the edge of the paper; alternatively, use the side of a fibre-tipped brushpen.  In this photo, the bottom edge has been inked with an ink-pad and the top was inked with a pen.
4) Cut your strips to length and make them ready to assemble.
If you are using paper that is 12” wide, then you should be able to get two pieces from each strip.  Measure 6” along your paper strip and cut carefully in half. 
If the strips are shorter than about 11”, then you will need to cut them to 6” and use four strips instead of two. 
Alternatively, you can cut thinner strips, so the proportions look right – you don’t want the “arms” of you star to look fat compared with their length.
Now mark the centre of the strip, at one short edge.  Draw cutting lines of about 1.5cm (3/4”), from this centre point to each edge.
Cut to a point.
281110_Step_4_Cut_6 281110_Step_4_Cut_7
Use the cut end as a pattern for all the other ends of your strips, so you have four pointed strips, as shown.
Remember to ink your pointed edges to match the sides.
281110_Step_5_Assemble_1 281110_Step_5_Assemble_2
Mark the centre point of the strip, measuring from point, to point.  Pierce with a needle or thin bradawl/piercing tool.
You need to pierce the centre point of all four paper strips.
5) Assemble the Star
281110_Step_5_Assemble_4 281110_Step_5_Assemble_5
To make a simple star, assemble as shown, pushing the point of your split-pin/brad through the centre hole, while arranging the arms of the star as you go. 
At this point, you can open out the back of your split-pin/brad and put the star on the wall, in the branches of your tree, stick it to the window etc.
6) Attaching a Hanging Loop and making a Decorative Bow
Before you add the last arm to the star, cut a length of ribbon for your hanging loop and decoration.  I cut mine about 18” / 45cm long for this 6” star.
281110_Step_6_Ribbon_2 281110_Step_6_Ribbon_3
Use the back of a craft-knife blade, or a similar flat, blunt object, to push both ends of the ribbon through the last strip – from the front to the back, as shown.
Lay the star flat and arrange the hanging loop above the fourth arm of the star.  Pull the ribbon through so the ribbon loop is big enough to hang up, but not excessive. The ribbon ends need to be even, as you will use the rest of the ribbon to make a decorative bow on the reverse side of the star (so it can be hung up facing either way, or where it will be seen from both sides).
281110_Step_6_Ribbon_5 281110_Step_6_Ribbon_6
281110_Step_6_Ribbon_7 281110_Step_6_Ribbon_8
Carefully push the last strip onto the back of the split-pin/brad. 
At this stage, if you want to , you can use a little glue to hold the hanging loop in place under the top strip of paper; spots of glue can be used to fix each paper strip in place more firmly.
Arrange the ribbon as you want it, then open out the split-pin, to hold the paper strips in place and secure the ribbon. 
Make a loop from each of the ribbon ends, then wrap them round each other to make a bow.  Tweak the loops and ends of the bow, until you have them about equal and trim each ribbon end on a diagonal, to neaten it and prevent fraying.
281110_Step_6_Ribbon_9Add a little piece of ribbon behind the button of the brad/split-pin and tie in a small bow, to decorate the front of the star.
281110_Finished_2 281110_Finished_3
Hang your finished star where your family can admire your work! 281110_Finished_Small
You can make several stars and display them in a group.  I made smaller stars, with 4” / 10cm arms, that are 3/4” or almost 2cm wide.  Each star has only 3 arms instead of 4, to make a 6-pointed star.
* * *
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will feel inspired to try making your own paper decorations this year!   They also make great decorations on a gift-wrapped Christmas gift for a special person.
Thank you to Dobbies, for hosting my Guest Tutorial.  I hope I have been a well-behaved guest.
If you would like to see how I made the red star above, with the button decoration, why not visit my Companion Tutorial, showing the method for stitching the star together.

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