Hand made Christmas decorations in neutrals add a smart artisanal look to your Christmas decorating. Here’s an idea for making craft-inspired decorations from string or jute twine. They look lovely on a tree, a branch, and even hanging in a cluster.
You could try choosing three colours (including natural) and making lots in three or four shapes and just covering your tree with those for a simplified crafty look. You can also try bunching them together for a centerpiece or table decoration. In another tutorial to come we’ll show you how to added them to a Christmas wreath to hang on your door. This technique came from Lynn Pavey and uses very simple materials you most likely have on hand – jute or cotton twine and a cornflour and water paste. The secret is to wrap them around a frame which creates the shape and let them dry. The frames can be made with toothpicks plugged into a corkboard, or by wrapping the string around jars (covered in a strip of baking paper first).
Step 1: Materials & Equipment
Step 2: Make the Templates
There are 4 shapes to make – a star, a tree, a circle, a hexagon. The star and tree are made with the templates, the circle and hexagon are made with the jars. Draw a star and a tree shape on paper. Use a 5 pointer star, and a simple tree shape. Mark it with dots and join the dots with ruler. Cut these out.
Put a sheet of baking paper on top of the cork tile or cork noticeboard. Place the star and tree on the board. Plug in a toothpick to the board at each point on the shape. 10 points for the stars, 11 for the tree. Make up several frames of each shape on the corkboard because only one decoration can be made at a time. This increases the number of decorations you are making.
Thread the string around the frame, threading over one toothpick and behind the next, then over the next one. This creates the weaving tension and the shape. You’ll notice if you have missed a toothpick point because the shape won’t appear. After the first round, continue for 3 or 4 more rounds. The new round will make a new layer. Push the string down so there are no gaps between the layers. Make it at least 0.75cm wide or continue wrapping until the string is wider (over 1cm wide). Keep it taught and tie in a knot.
Paint generously with the cornflour mixture. All the string must be wet and covered with the mixture to dry hard.
To create a circle or hexagonal shape, fold a piece of baking paper to make a strip, wrap around the middle of the jar and tape in place. Wrap the string around the baking paper to desired width (about 0.75cm-1.25cm). Tie in a knot and pin in place if required. Coat generously in cornflour mixture. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours or until the string shapes have hardened. Peel off the toothpick frames or from the jars, rub off any excess dried glue ‘crumbs’.
There are two ways to hang the decorations – with an ordinary string tie so it hangs, or with a piece of wire so it can sit upright on a tree or branch or in a posy (like a wand). To create this wire ‘wand’, measure and cut a piece of string and piece of wire to the length required (at least 20cm). Twist together to bind them. Thread this through a corner of the star, or the base of the tree shape. Bend over at the half way point and twist together the two string and wire half lengths so it forms a tight twist. Make it tight at the base, to keep the shape in place when sitting upright.
To tie with a piece of string, cut a piece of string about 30-40cm, double over, thread through the decoration and then pull the loose ends between the loop formed at the folded end. This allows for the decoration to hang neatly.
Make different shapes in different coloured jute and twine, and add the wire ‘wand’ to create a Christmas ‘posy’ for a vase. Prop it into florist’s foam at the base of the vase or bowl.
For a hanging decoration with a focal point, make a series of stars or shapes and hang them from a length of dowel wrapped in wool like this one. Add beads to the string tie for embellishment. Ta Da! Your string stars make a crafty festive decoration.