Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Playing with Paper

As you can probably tell, I use a thousand words when one will do - so as today am having a chat about using up the junk mail we get through the front door, kitchen foil, and empty crisp packets, felt that scanning the diagrams in 'Have a Goode Year' would explain the 'how to's' far more simply than I can. Hope they have been printed large enough for you to read some of the instructions - but if not the diagrams should give enough info. Lots of photos follow to show what was made yesterday as these look even better in real life.

We begin with the page (p.91 if you have the book) that shows how to make magic lanterns, and for this I would use kitchen foil as the fold stays 'crisp' once unfolded. Otherwise use firm card. It is basically a matter of folding a sheet of foil/card/paper in half, then cutting with scissors through the fold up to a border at the edges, then unfolding, rolling it into a tube, fastening the two end strips together (you may not need to do this, it may hold its shape anyway), and then pressing down so the folded bit sticks out. The diagram shows this far more clearly that I can describe.

Below the 'lantern' is a diagram showing how to form a square mobile. Once cut and made into the shape shown, discovered yesterday that if two of the opposite 'sticking out' triangles, are lifted up and held together, this forms a rather fancy shape (almost a lantern) that looks even prettier dangling from something.

We come next to one of my favourite 'festoons', as originally made with plastic *supermarket) carrier bags (the stronger kind). When asked to demonstrate these on 'Bazaar' (TV series), the man who designed the studio sets was so taken with them that he went home, got some white carrier bags, painted strips of red and green on them, cut them up and decorated his own home that Christmas. Plastic can be slippery, and as - unbelievably - the cut pieces stretch out to a very great length, always best to hold the uncut folds in place with clothes pegs or paper clips so the cuts are even.
At that time used to shop around to find out who gave away the brightest carrier bags - M & S had green ones - which were very 'Christmassy', and think Safeways (at that time) had a lot of red on their bags. But even those mostly white can look good.

As ever (to avoid waste) first try making this using newspaper. The diagram below shows 'how to' (p.93 in the book). Fold in half lengthways, then fold again - and again if wide enough to do so. The more folds, the wider the 'mesh'. As I said, hold the edges/folds in place with clips, then begin cutting through the paper from one side only, leaving a border. Then turn the paper over and cut up from the other side, again not quite through - this again explained better looking at the diagram.
Remove the clips and you will see the paper with then unfold into a long and quite attractive strip in its own right. Worth folding a double thickness of foil twice and cutting to this stage - as the 'zig-zags' look good draped over a Christmas Tree, or even around a room/mantlepiece.

Another decoration we can make (not shown here) is to wind long thin strips of foil round a knitting needle (a tapered stick is even better), then carefully slide the foil down, and it will then hang in ringlets - these can look a lot like icicles and also good dangling from Christmas tree branches.

If using plastic bags or coloured paper, to make the 'mesh' festoons, carefully unfold until back into its original flat piece, they you will see it will stretch out into a 'festoon', and as plastic hags tend to roll into a lacy tube when the mesh is gently stretched, they look particularly good.

Some of us older ones may remember that trick of asking someone to walk through a postcard. The postcard folded in half, then cut through to the border - this then would open out to make a huge 'hole' that would easily be slipped over the head and down to the feet. In the same way, these 'festoons' stretch out to an amazing length.The festoons do not have to be made with plastic (supermarket) bags. Myself have made them using the large packs that numerous bags of crisps are sold in. But as you will see later one small bag of crisps has a reason to live beyond the munch.
The first photo shows the start of the square mobile, made using a square piece of typing paper, larger than normally used just so you get the effect. It was folded in half, then half again (as shown at the bottom of the first diagram) a visible line drawn to mark the border, then a line drawn down from corner to corner, and three more evenly spaced each side. The photo shows the folds, the lines, and as it looks after it has been cut through from the folded edges up to the border.

Unfolded, the paper should now look like the above photo. All that we do then is fold back alternate triangles of paper - as you work you will find the triangles on opposite sides have to be alternate to the other two sides to give the final effect is as shown below.
If you can find card that has a pattern - maybe a box that contained biscuits, or chocolates, even if white inside, these too will cut into very good 'mobiles'. Made a small one yesterday - and if it has not been thrown out (Beloved got fed up with all my bits of paper, asked me if I needed them any more and I said no - after photographing most of them) will show you this tomorrow .

Now back to the festoons again. The one shown below was made from a sheet of typing paper, not the whole length as I stupidly tore it across the middle, but you get the idea.

The festoon below is made from an empty packet of salt and vinegar crisps (the green colour being 'Christmassy'. Use 'ready salted' and the red packet would be even more 'seasonal'. Cheese and Onion come in a blue packet, so why not buy - and eat lots - and enjoy the effect).
Why crisp packets? Well the inside is shiny foil, and this reflects light when cut, and although some might say "if so short of money you can't afford to buy decorations, then you shouldn't waste money on crisps", there are other packets have foil innards. I say 'foil', but more shiny metallic as this type doesn't fold as easily as kitchen foil. Paper round bars of chocolate also have the same shiny insides. But suppose paupers can't afford to buy chocolate either, but there is always something that can be used - like the plastic bags that come through the letterbox asking us to put all our old clothes into it then leave it at the gate.
Or use the multicoloured pages from the junk mail that comes through the letterbox. Believe me - we have the necessary if we bother to look for it.

Even if we are not strapped for cash, does this mean we shouldn't take advantage of something that has potential? If children can see the effort we put in to make their Christmas enjoyable, then surely this means more to them that taking the easy way - putting your hand in your pocket and buying the ready-made? Or am I being old-fashioned again?
The photo above is not very clear, but you can see how the crisp packet has been folded just the once, then cut through from side to side in strips (again use a paper clip/clothes peg to grip the plastic as it IS very slippery). When opened out the effect is as above.
Below you see the same 'festoon' dangling from the larder door-knob (picture on its side as it fits better on this page, just twist your head round to see the proper effect). This shows how the inside (foil) and outside (colour of the packet looks really good, and you wouldn't know it started out as salt and vinegar - would you? Proving that a single set of loops can be just as effective as a large mesh (and somewhat easier to accomplish).

Snowflakes can be painted on windows using diluted Epsom salts (the liquid dries out back into crystals again), and coloured paper from old mail order catalogues cut up to make paper chains.

For children the more decorations the better, and they love making paper chains. If not able to buy a tree, then find some twigs, bind them with white paper or kitchen foil, tie them up into a tree shape, and hang home-made sweets and gingerbread shapes from the 'branches'.

With small children, very little money needs to be spent to make them blissfully happy, it worked in the olden days and still works now.