Every year when the time comes to decorate the Christmas tree, unwrapping each ornament brings back fond (and sometimes melancholy) memories of special people, places, and events attached to the many ornaments we have collected over the years.
When I was growing up in the Coal Region during the 60’s and early 70’s, we had a tradition of my making at least one elaborate hand-made ornament each Christmas season.
Some came from “ornament kits”, complete with the ornament body, straight pins, beads, sequins and hanging ribbon needed to create the ornament pictured on the package.
Some years, the ornaments were based on fiber art; a way for me to hone my newly learned quilting, sewing, or crocheting skills from the past year.
The ornaments were not expensive. They were simply gifts from the heart created by hands that wanted to make a memory. But to my Mom, they were priceless.
Each year, as the fresh-cut Christmas tree sagged and got ready to make it’s final journey to the woods behind our house to return to Mother Nature who had given part of herself to us for our holiday pleasure, my Mom lovingly wrapped each ornament I created — old and new.
With the gentle hands only a Mom has, she coddled them in paper and tucked them away in the company of the tree topper, window-sill candelabras with orange bulbs, and cardboard cut-out window decorations that preceded my arrival into our little Coal Region home by many years.
Coming across some Moravian stars in our current box of cherished ornaments reminded me of these paper German stars (aka Froebel Stars) so popular when I was growing up. I certainly made my share of them, spending many hours of my youth gathered ’round tables with friends in our church’s basement after Sunday school or in art class, fingers flying making these folded little paper pieces.
Mom wrapped and saved those paper stars, too, even though many did not fare well, succumbing over the years to the wear and tear of multiple seasons of storage and display.
My Mom is gone 30 years now. For some reason that hit me particularly hard when I opened the box of ornaments this year and realized none of the ones I made in childhood survived these decades later. Like my Mom, the memories were all I had to hold.
Even though my Rheumatoid Arthritis will fight me all the way, I think it is time to try to make even one of these stars again. For Mom.
Simple and relaxing…once you get the hang of it
Making these pretty folded 16-pointed paper stars can be addictive. There are many ways to decorated with these including on the tree, mantle, in garland, or glued together to make a wreath.
In times past, the stars were used outside to decorate trees. To protect the paper from the elements, they were dipped in household paraffin wax (found today among canning supplies in many stores).
You can easily create these stars using scrapbook paper which is readily available in craft stores or on the internet in a plethora of designs and colors. You can even get paper-weaving strips from Amazon and various craft supply shops, pre-cut and ready for you to use.
Seeing is believing
The easiest way to learn to fold these Froebel/German stars is to watch and make them along with this clear how-to video.
You can make different sized stars, a basic rule of thumb is 1:24 when cutting strips. In other words, if you have paper that is 12″ (half of 24), your strips will be 12 inches by 1/2 inch (half of “1”).
Make them easy peasy
Pre-cut strips of decorative paper are great if you are working with kids or having a “German Star-making party” with friends or family. Less work cutting strips means more time to enjoy being creative!
If you want to cut your own strips from your favorite scrapbook paper you just love, a paper cutter makes quick work of the job.
Once you get started, it’s hard to stop! The stars make lovely touches as decorations or make up a bunch to use as favors or take-home gifts for guests this holiday season. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and move beyond the typical red, green, and white Christmas color scheme; try pastels, metallic, or intense jewel-toned blues, purples, and pinks.
Preserving your work
Dipping German (Froebel) Stars in wax is a traditional way to protect them from the elements when using them outside. It also helps keep your folded paper stars protected inside, too. Artist Carla Schauer has an excellent tutorial, including step-by-step directions with photos, on her website for dipping in wax and adding glitter to your creations..