This is the time of year when thoughts of plastic icicle ornaments dance in my head and send shivers down my spine. For I was a child of the seventies, when tinsel garlands strangled trees, spray snow ruled, and perky santa stencils adorned far too many windows. As a consequence, during this time when the ubiquitous homemade ornament is upon us, I feel there’s no reason why children can’t be taught to make beautiful ones. After all, you’ll be staring at them for weeks on end, and dusting them off year after year. While there will always be room for that first glittery pine cone carried lovingly home from kindergarten, these ornaments, made with delicious Japanese papers, will really stand out.
- selection of Japanese paper
- paper mâché or styrofoam balls
- rice paste or white glue
- soft, flat paint brush
- wire or paper clips & wire cutters (if using styrofoam balls)
1. Paper mâché balls can be purchased at the Paper Place in Toronto, or in some art supply stores. They come with a gold thread already attached for hanging. You can also use styrofoam balls, but you’ll need to attach the thread yourself which is easy to do. For this you’ll need some gold thread tied in a loop. Hold it against the surface of the ball and press a small u-shaped piece of wire over it so it remains attached. Instead of wire, you can also use a cut section of a paper clip. Make sure you attach the string to the ball before adding any paper (see photo below) When you do add the paper, be sure to place some on top of the wire to secure it well.
2. Select the Japanese papers you will be using. In Toronto, The Paper Place sells Snack Packs and Variety Packs which contain an assortment of papers for a reasonable price. If shopping online, you’ll find these papers at The Japanese Paper Place. When applying paper to the ball, it can be cut or torn, but does adhere better if torn. Also, smaller pieces work best. When I made these with younger children, I provided them with boxes filled with torn pieces of paper. They were also grouped by colour to make things easier.
3. Cover the ball with a layer of rice paste or a mixture of 2 parts white glue and 1 part water, using a soft, flat paint brush. Begin laying your pieces of paper one by one onto the ball, covering each one with paste. Make sure the paper overlaps so the base of the ball doesn’t show. When the ball is completely covered, hang it up to dry. The paste and glue will dry clear.