This project will show how to make an easy and fun decoration to celebrate Independence Day. This wreath is low cost and looks great on display on your front door or at any other gathering area on the Fourth of July. It is made by overlapping layers of different size 3D stars in red, white, and blue. You only need simple materials to put this together, and you should be able to finish it in a single afternoon. With a few simple techniques you can create this eye-catching decoration for less than a dollar in materials!
• 3 sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" cardstock or heavy construction paper (one each in Red, White, and Blue)
• Sturdy cardboard sheet at least 11 inches square or larger (pizza box would be a good source)
• Small piece of ribbon (about eight inches long)
• Hot glue gun
• Dry embossing stylus (or plastic knife)
• Small ruler or straight edge
• Scissors (or electronic craft cutter like a Silhouette Portrait or Cameo)
• X-acto knife
Step 1: Creating Star Cutouts
Thanks to Instructables Build Nights, my local makerspace has access to a Silhouette Portrait craft cutter. This machine is easy to use and makes paper craft projects such as this one a snap. If you do not have access to such a machine, jump ahead to the next step to see how to create the cutouts by hand.
I started by finding a suitable star shaped line drawing. There are many free drawing tools you could use to sketch out this geometric shape if you can not find one. Silhouette Studio, the software used to control the Silhouette Portrait cutter will allow you to import and image of your star and trace it to create cut lines. You will want to create them in two or three sizes...the largest about 4 1/2 inches across and the smallest about 2 1/2 inches across.
To create your own, import your image file into Silhouette Studio. Use the trace tool to trace the outline into cut lines. You can then duplicate and scale the cut line star object into whatever number and size of stars you need. In order to save you time if you have a Silhouette cutter, I've attached the Silhouette Studio file containing the star shapes I used that are ready to go. Align your cardstock onto the cutting mat and load it into the machine. Adjust your cutter depth and cut settings for the material you are using. Cut this file and repeat for each color. This will give you a set of red, white, and blue stars in the two different sizes. Separate the stars and set them aside.
Step 2: Creating Star Cutouts by Hand
If you don't have an electronic cutter, no worries...you can still create this project by hand. The shapes are fairly simple to cut out using scissors. It will take a bit longer than the craft cutter, but the results will be the same. I've attached a PDF version of the cut lines from Silhouette Studio. Print this out on regular printer paper. We will use this as our template.
Using a sharp pair of scissors, carefully cut out at least one of each of the three sizes of star from the printed sheet. Take your time to make sure the lines and corners are cut correctly. Now place these on your cardstock and lightly trace around them to transfer the pattern. You should be able to fit three large, one medium, and two small on each sheet. Repeat for each color. Now carefully cut out the star shapes from the cardstock so that you have sets of each color in the different sizes.
Step 3: Score and Fold Stars
To give the wreath depth and dimension, we will score and fold the star shapes into 3D shapes before attaching them. This not only makes the stars look nicer, it gives the wreath more volume and looks great hanging on your door or wall.
To fold the stars accurately, we will first score lines where we need them to be. Each star has five points. Immediately opposite from each point is an inner corner. You will need a scored line from each point to it's opposing corner to make the folds. You can use a ruler or other straightedge to align the point and corner. Then simply score a line using a dry embossing stylus. If you don't have one, you can simply use the backside of a plastic knife. The idea is to make a straight depression line connecting the point to the opposing corner. You do not want to actually cut the surface of the cardstock. The star should have a total of five score lines when you are done. Repeat on all the star cutouts.
After all of the score marks are made, you will need to fold the stars to their final shape. It helps to first fold the star flat along each score line. When all the folds have been made, you can begin folding the star by pressing downward on the corners opposite of the points. In oragami terms, each fold will transition from a mountain fold on the point side, to a valley fold on the corner side at the star's center. SOnce you have the corners all pressed down you should have a star as seen in the photos. Repeat for all the star cutouts.
Step 4: Create Cardboard Backing Ring
To provide stability for our wreath, we will need some type of backing material. A sturdy sheet of cardboard will serve this purpose perfectly. You will want to find a single sheet with no folds at least eleven inches square or larger. If you have a pizza box lid, it should work just fine. From this sheet we will cut out a ring to use as the base for our wreath.
On the cardboard, draw two circles which will be the inner and outer edge of the ring. The inner edge should be about eight inches in diameter. The outer edge should be about eleven inches in diameter. You can draw these in various different ways. For best results, you should use a compass or a template. For my circles, I just checked my cupboard and found two plates of approximately the correct size and used those as templates for the circles. My specific plate and bowl were about 10 1/2" and 7 1/4". Sketch the outline of the larger template, then center the smaller template and sketch around that one as well. Now cut out the ring, being careful to keep it intact and try not to create any folds or creases in the cardboard ring itself. The cut circle edges do not have to be perfect because they will not be visible behind the stars.
Step 5: Position and Attach Stars
Position the stars around the ring in an alternating pattern of colors. Place the larger stars on top of the cardboard backing ring. Then repeat with the smaller stars on the next layer. Try to evenly space them around the ring to give the wreath a polished, uniform look. Make any adjustments to the star positions now to achieve the look you want.
Now start attaching the stars using hot glue. Since the stars are not flat-backed, you will need to glue the undersides of the paper edges to the cardboard backing ring, while being careful to maintain your layout. Move pieces carefully to the side as needed to glue down the stars. When the first layer is complete, repeat by gluing the smaller stars on top of the larger stars. Again, you will have to check and customize the location of glue for each one to ensure good contact with the star below it. After the glue dries you can cut away any excess with an X-acto knife.
Step 6: Attach Wreath Hanger
Almost done! The last step is to use a small length of ribbon as our wreath hanger. Make sure that when folded in half, the ribbon is sufficient to make a hanger loop. Find which part of your wreath you would like to always be at the top. Use this as you guide on where to place the hanger. Hot glue the ends of the ribbon to the back of the cardboard backing ring. This will provide a firm way to hang your wreath on a door hanger or on a nail/tack in the wall. The wreath is very light, so the ribbon will have plenty of holding strength.
Now find a spot to proudly display your handiwork!
This project is easy to do and only takes a minimum set of tools, although the craft cutter certainly speeds things along, if you have one available. Similar techniques can be used to create decorations for other holidays or special occasions.