Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Folding Fröbel stars and the father of the Kindergarten

I learnt how to make these beautiful eight point stars while studying theology in the former GDR. One of the colleagues I was studying with wanted to make one for everyone at her Christmas service. As I have always loved origami I got the hang of how to do it quite quickly and because we had a lot to make that first time I tend to remember how it goes.
In Germany they are called Fröbelsterne after the educationalist Friedrich Fröbel - he's the person who came up with the concept of Kindergarten. Fröbel built on children's instinct for folding and plaiting to encourage understanding of mathematics so maybe that's why the star is named after him in Germany or maybe he was indeed its inventor.
AnywayI love trying to find time over Christmas to make some of the stars for friends. It's a great activity to do as a group as well - people can help each other out. These days I tend to make the stars out of gift tape like the one pictured here on Flickr because then I don't have to cut the strips up myself and everything slides into place nicely as well - with ordinary paper things can get a bit stuck. What actually works really well is strips of glossy magazine paper - it slides well, the stars look great, you've recycled the paper and I like having words and pictures on the stars.
Some places sell fairly traded stars made from palm fronds - and yes I admit to sitting on the beach in Martinique folding stars and cutting palm strips with my Swiss army knife. You can look here and here for some examples - you can choose to fold them so that the points go inwards, outwards or lie flat and you can also choose to make them so that they look more like shooting stars. I have once seen pictures of very upmarket ones in a Martha Stewart book but on ethical grounds I don't think I'll be linking to those. A friend who was really into patchwork and quilting also made some out of material using quite a bit of starch - and the strips took some preparation because both sides of the material need to be seen.
Anyway making stars is good for the soul, it helps you relax and think and give you something beautiful either for yourself or someone else as well. So what are you waiting for? Follow the instructions here, here or here. If I can make them in a hotel room in Berlin I'm sure you can give them a go.