At the time of writing/publishing (23 Dec. 2006) we don't have much time left to decorate for X-mas. This simple paper star could be your rescue.

The star is named after its inventor, Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel (1782-1852). It was conceived as one of many activities for children in Kindergarten (nursery school), another invention of his.

This star is perhaps the most famous of his handicraft constructions, and the net has numerous descriptions of how to fold it, but I think this site would not be complete without one.

According to the wikipedia, it is also known asAdvent star, Danish star, German star, Nordic star, Pennsylvanian star, Polish star, Swedish star, and Christmas star in English.

[Note: Most steps are illustrated by more than one picture. The idea was that alternative views would help the viewer understand what's going on. Unfortunately, since 2006, this site has become greedy, and has clamped down on the free viewing of these alternative views. Now you have to pay to see them. Not exactly what I had in mind. They have also "edited" the title of this Instructable, as if I would not know what to call my own instructables. The title should be "Fröbelstern", nothing more, nothing less.]

Step 1: Cut Paper Strips

You need four paper strips, at least 30 times longer than wide.

It really helps if their width does not wary too much along their length, so if you can get hold a roll of ticker-tape or some other type of pre-cut paper strips, go for it. An office cutting machine is a good option if you have to make your own.

Step 2: Fold

Double the strips by folding them in the middle.

Step 3: Trim the Tips

This is optional, but it helps you pass the strips through the half-finished star.

(If you plan to fill a X-mas tree, this step should be possible to throw out once you get the hang of things.)

Step 4: Make the "base Knot"

Tie the strips together.

If you pull the knot too tight, it will be hard to pass the strips through it later on.

(OK, the first picture just shows you how to fit the pieces together, ""the second'"" shows you the base knot in its tightened state.)

Step 5: "Extend" the Base Knot (folding)

We need to add one extra knot to one side of the base knot. This move makes sure that thet two sides of the star are copies of each other, not mirror images.

Step 6: Extending the Base Knot (final Tuck)

After we have folded three of the top strips over each other, the fourth strip has to be tucked under the one we folded first.

Step 7: Adding Flat Points

I will describe some different techniques ("moves") for adding the flat star points that lie in the same plane as the base knot.

The first method do without any pre-folding at all. You simply twist and tuck the appropriate strips in the fashion showed in the pictures. When tightening the loop, you work it into the hole with your fingers until it is time to squash it flat.

I have taken several pictures from different angles in order to give you an idea of the loop the strip must have in order to form the right type of point.

Note that there is a slight risk that you now sit with a half-finished star that is a mirror image of what is shown in the pictures. You should be able to figure out if this is the case by studying the pictures closely. I have tried to have focus in places where it counts.

Step 8: Adding Flat Point (with Folding)

OK, the first suggested method was not extremely good, but it allowed me to show you the proper loop of the strip.

This time I will show you the safe, but slow way of doing it. Pre-folding the point before pulling the strip through the star.

Step 9: Four Flat Points Done

After adding four flat points, the star should look something like this.

It is now time to turn the star over and demonstrate a third way of making the flat points.

(First picture shows the top, the second shows the old flip side, the new top.)

Step 10: Adding Flat Points (third, Mixed, Method)

This is a method that is a mix of the two previously described.

We quickly form a loop and tuck the strip, as in the first method. Then, one of our fingers press a fold in the "root" end of the star, the end that isn't "sucked" into the star as we pull the free end.

As the to-be-point runs out of paper, we must push on it a bit to obtain a good result.

The last picture what the star should look like when all the flat points have been added.

Step 11: Preparation for the Three-dimensional Points

Before the veeeery difficult 3D points, we must fold back the strips.

This is perhaps the step that is most likely to be forgotten, a simple mistake that will make it very hard to recall how the 3D points were formed.

Step 12: Loop-the-loop

The first step in twisting and turning the strip when forming a 3D point, is the loop-the-loop. Notice how I hold the tip of the strip parallel to the base knot plane.

(Now that is a rather short strip end. I used strips with a length-to-width ratio of almost exactly 30:1. It makes the different actions fit nicely in my close-ups, but apart from that it is mostly a pain to work with too short strips.)

Step 13: The Critical Twist

After the loop-the-loop, we are set to complete the intricate twist of the strip that is necessary for producing the correct type of three-dimensional star point.

For stars that have the same handedness as the one showed in the pictures, The tip of the strip should now be rotated three quarters of a turn counter clockwise. The axis of rotation is orthogonal to the base knot plane.

Or, inspired by the loop-the-loop terminology, after the stunt aircraft has made its loop-the-loop, it should stop dead, turn into a helicopter, then turn 270 degrees to the left.

Hopefully, the many pictures taken from different angles will help you stay on track.

Step 14: Carefully Tightening the Final Loop

If you pull gently, simultaneously pushing the loop, it should placidly find the correct shape. Do not pull too hard. That will only make the point look stressed.

Step 15: Turn Over and Add the Final Four Points

No sweat, we are almost experts now and can finish the final four 3D points on the flip side without a single drop of sweat on our foreheads.

Step 16: Trimming Off Excess Paper

Trim off excess paper sticking out of the flat points.

If you leave one, you can write somebody's name there and use the stars as dinner table seating organisers.

Step 17: Add String

With a needle and some sewing thread, we can convert the star into a decoration for our, ahem, X-mas tree.



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    35 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    You could buy QUILLING paper for small stars. It comes in about quarter inch upwards. Just a thought.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I must admit I had never heard about quilling before I read your comment here. Judging from pictures on the web, it might work. If such strips bend and behave in a favourable way, it would certainly save time using them.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I remember making these as a young girl for our Christmas tree. My mother must have learned how to make them when we were stationed in Korea in 1964-1965. We dipped them in parafin an sprinkled them with glitter. I am so glad to be able to find this. I am now an 8th grade math teacher and thought these would make a fun project for Christmas and use Geometry concepts as well.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    thank u very much for adding this instructable. I made some stars and hung it on ceiling, it looks beautiful.I must admit, it is hard but it is okay.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Has anyone made any using the type of ribbon that we put on gift packages? There's all the pre-cut strips you could want, except for the length!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    We have a Print Shop and if known how to make these my hole life. its easy for me because I get thousands of strips a month just from our cutter.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for adding this Instructable! We had some of these stars as ornaments when I was a kid. Tradition has it that you dip them in melted parafin, then dust with glitter. They last a long time this way. Imagine them made from high quality rag paper, coated with clear parafin to preserve.

    I have made them from all sizes of paper ribbon, all colors, and they're beautiful! Go here: http://highhopes.com/3dstar.html to find long paper strips in various widths/colors. Now I want BIG ones, so I'm trying paper adding machine tape (3" wide), and will spray with fixative or varnish to preserve. The stars end up 4 times as wide as the strip of paper, so my 3" paper tape will yield 12" wide stars...SO HAPPY!!!!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great job! I tried making one of my own, but... I don't think I'll ever try it again. I don't have the patience.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Image shows my smallest star to date, objects placed side-by-side on flatbed scanner and covered with black cloth. This image replaces former comment that contained link that is no longer valid.


    I used to work in one of the old mainframe computer rooms where everything was super clean and no mess was allowed. It was hard to decorate for christmas because of that. So I spent about a month making over 200 of these stars and attaching string. One night after everyone else had gone home, I taped the stars to the ceiling so they hung at about 6 ft. and up. When people came in in the morning they were greeted with a sea of nice clean stars. Everyone was ecstatic. That year they voted christmas a success.

    1 reply

    I love that story! I'm going to surprise my co-workers in the same way next time... bet a mix of coloured paper would work too.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing. Hard to believe that someone could imagine 5-year olds making these! Maybe we just expect too little of ourselves these days, though? :-S


    12 years ago

    I don't think I would decorate for xmas with this beautiful star, but I would be proud to use it to decorate for CHRISTMAS. Please don't take CHRIST out of Christmas.

    4 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Some of us don't actually celebrate "CHRIST-MAS", but rather choose "X-mas", and allow the holiday to signify whatever value we place on "X". Christians don't have some sort of celebratory patent on the date or season, after all.

    Why do religious zealots always think that values and morality have to occur within the confines of religion--especially of the institutionalized variety? Religion and morality can (and often do) exist mutually exclusive of each other.

    And if that ain't enough for ya--consider the First Ammendment as an argument against your "polite request". For some of us, being corrected on our choices of expression can be just as insulting as dropping "Christ" from Christmas is for others.