Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Star garlands for everyone!


It's been an embarrassingly long time since I wrote anything here - not for lack of wanting to but I started a new job in the spring that's taken most of my time, plus my little willow business has started to take off, and I couldn't be happier about that!

Anyway, I thought I'd make my comeback with a tutorial for a garland of tiny stars - these are only about 2cm across and are perfect for stringing across a Christmas cake. I'm also offering a kit to make them in my Etsy shop, and finished garlands if you like them but just cannot fit in one more activity before Christmas!

So - you will need:

Very fine centre cane - available from Fred Aldous. I use 1-1.25 mm but 1.5mm should work too.
Butcher's twine, ribbon or whatever you prefer for stringing
A pair of scissors
A bowl of water

It might be helpful to practice drawing a five pointed star before you start - make sure you don't lift your pencil from the paper. The path of the cane is the same as the path of the pencil line.

1. Cut a piece of centre cane about 40cm long. This is far more than you need but it is very frustrating to run out!

2. Soak cane briefly in cold water - 5 minutes is plenty for such fine cane. Don't be tempted to oversoak! Wipe the water from the cane by running your fingers down the length of it. It should be extremely flexible and should bend without breaking or cracking. If it cracks, give it another minute or two of soaking.

3. Each time you make a bend, pinch the cane between finger and thumbnail so you get a sharp bend, exactly where you want it. So, make the first bend about 6 cm from one end of the cane.

4. Make a second bend about 2cm from the first, and arrange the cane as shown. Note that the longer end is lying on top of the shorter end.

5. Make a third bend 2cm from the second- this will form the horizontal top of the star. Thread the cane under and over the two pieces forming the top point of the star - see photo. You should feel the star starting to hold together.

6. Make a fourth bend 2cm from the third, and again feed the long end of the cane over and under the point it crosses - now you have a star!

7. To strengthen the star we're going to take the cane along the same path as before but just lying to the outside of the first star. Bend the cane carefully at each point and take it around the star.

8. You're done! Trim the ends neatly, make a few more and tie them as you please along a length of twine. You can use bamboo skewers or cakepop sticks to make uprights, or make a crazily long one to hang on the tree!

I make lots of these stars in willow, but it is a bit less forgiving than cane, and takes a lot more preparation!

Happy Christmas! I'd love to see photos of any garlands you might make.

PS This tutorial is for your personal use. It's my tiny variation on a common technique, so you can make (small quantities) to sell but please respect the copyright on my photos!