Thursday, 11 December 2014

Himmeli tree decorations DIY

A novice guide

In keeping with the Nordic feel of my Christmas decor this year, I thought I'd try my hand at making some Himmeli decorations for our tree!
Himmeli is basically making geometric shapes using hollow tubes. It is a Christmas craft stemming from Finland where people traditionally make them out of grass straws, but any type of hollow tubes will do: Brass tubes look especially nice, but for this tutorial I have just used some cocktail straws.

Himmeli can be as simple or as intricate as you'd like, and they can look like they are very complicated to make....But really it is very easy....Once you get started and get an understanding of the basics, you will see what I mean.

So today I am showing you how to get started with some basic shapes...learn with me:

All you'll need to get started is some string (or bakers twine) , some tubes: I used cocktail straws, some scissors and possibly a needle!
 It looks more difficult than it really is, and I will try my best to explain the steps in a simple way...Please use the pictures as guidance!

Lets start with a simple triangular shape:

1: Cut up some straws into 6 equally long pieces.
2: Thread 3 pieces of straw onto your sting and tie together to create a triangle.
NOTE: I didn't cut the string off my roll, and kept the string long on each side of the triangle!
3: Add another 2 pieces of straw, to create a double triangle shape (as shown in the picture above).
thread the string back through one of the straws, then add the last piece of straw....Pull together to create the 3D himmeli shape.
4: Create a hoop of sting for hanging at the top of your triangular himmeli decorations, then tie off any loose ends.

OK! So now you've probably realized that this is really not that tricky!!
From this basic shape, you can expand to create more intricate geometric forms with your straws...
...Like this more cubical/diamond form, using 12 pieces of straw:

1: Make a triple triangle shape by threading equal sized pieces of straws onto your string. To do this, just keep threading the string back through the straws to end up where you need to attach the next piece. Remember to keep the string long on both ends. When you've created the triple triangle shape, add another piece of straw at the end, as shown in picture 1 above.
2: Pull the string together to form the 3D shape.
3: Now is a good time to make a hoop in your string, for hanging your himmeli decoration...
...Then add another 2 pieces of straw. Then thread your string through the straw at the bottom, to end up at the side (I am doing my best to explain this in words, but you will work out what I mean as you do it :) I promise!!)
4: Then add another piece of straw, before connecting it in the space between the last two pieces by tying or twirling the string around.
5: add the last piece of straw then tie it off.

Now, you may find that there is an end bit of string hanging down from the bottom of your himmeli decoration. You can of course just snip this off, but why not use it to add some beads:

Not only does this look very nice, but If you are using plastic straws, like me, it also helps weigh your decorations a bit, helping them hang straight on the tree.
I had a few wooden beads left over from making my easy beady tree decorations in my previous post, so I used them...this way my himmeli decorations match!!

Once you have tried your hands on creating these basic himmeli shapes, you'll probably be ready to experiment a bit with the shapes.
Why not use different lengths of straw, like this long diamond shaped one below:

1: Cut 3 different lengths of straw, 3 of each size.
2,3 & 4: Using the same methods as described above, create an long diamond shape. Remember to create a hoop with the string at the top!

Then maybe add some beads at the end...??

Now, I must admit: Using cocktail straws doesn't make for the prettiest of ornaments, but it is an easy and inexpensive way to start experimenting making himmeli decorations.
I have got myself some brass tubing, that I plan to make some more with (using wire instead of string). I will show you how they turn out later!
But playing around with the plastic straws, I could afford to try my hand at more complicated himmeli shapes,like the one below:

For this one I used 12 equally long pieces of straw, 1 slightly longer length piece of straw for the center and 6 pieces that I cut to size at stage 5.
1: Start with your longer center piece, then add 2 and 2 pieces to create triangles on both sides.
2,3 & 4: : Keep adding these, by threading and re-threading the string through your center piece, until you've got 6 triangles coming out from the center...
5: Make sure your string ends up in the bend of triangle number 6, then roughly measure by eye how long the next 6 pieces of straw will need to be, to fit in between each triangle. Cut to size.
Then add these between each bend of the triangles all around... 

Again , I added some beads...

It really is just a matter of experimenting with different shapes...the possibilities are endless...
There are some great tutorials on pinterest on how to create different shapes, but also how to use this technique to make mobiles and lampshades and all sorts of other projects, not just tree decorations!
I really want to try my hand at making one of these beautiful mobiles at some point....but I think I need to practice a bit more with my cocktail straws before I'm ready for that!!! LOL!!

Anyway, for my first attempt at himmeli, I don't feel like I did too bad:

I've learnt a new skill, and created a few unique Christmas tree decorations in the process... I'm ready to advance to using brass tubing!!
I can't wait to show you guys!

But I really need to turn my attention to presents for Christmas now! Most of you have probably finished your Christmas shopping by now, but I am as always, still not done...
Every year, about this time, I keep repeating this mantra: DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC!....And do you know what?? It always comes together in the end!!

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