Weaving a three-dimensional star

31 October 2008

Click here to visit an upgraded version of this blog post on my new website at alibrown.nz.

The flax weaving techniques used in basket making are often the same techniques that other countries around the world use in their traditional weaving, although the raw materials are different. I always find it fascinating to see a sample of this universal nature of weaving, so I was most interested when one of my students showed me a three-dimensional star, made with birch bark, that she had purchased on her recent visit to the USA. The star is the same as the one shown on the blog post, Gift wrapping with flax, but it has an extra step to make spikes on the star. These spikes give the star the three-dimensional shape like the one in this photo.

To make this three-dimensional star, follow the steps for making the eight-pointed star on the Gift Wrapping with flax blog post, but don’t cut any ends off. The spikes on the star will be made with these two sets of four ends that are left.

Take the top strip of the two end-strips that are laying out to the right and bend it back on itself. The folded point underneath it is now showing.

Take the right-hand strip of the two end-strips that are coming out from the bottom of the star, and fold it up to the top, exposing the folded point at the bottom right.

Now fold it across to the right on a 45-degree angle. Keep the start of the fold as close to the centre of the star as possible. Press it down to crease it.

 Bring the end of this strip back around and poke it underneath the first strip that was bent back on itself. Push the end right through so that it comes out between the middle of the folds of the top point on the left.

Pull the strip through until it folds around into a spike. Don’t pull too far or it will undo the spike. Squeeze the strip to make it more spikey. Alternatively, to make the spike more open, push your finger into the centre of the spike and push the flax out to shape it.

Repeat these steps for the other three strips on this side of the star. As this version has a flat side, it can be used to tie around gifts.

For the second version of the star, make spikes on the other side in the same way as the first side. To finish, cut off all the ends. This side view shows the spikes poking out from both sides. To hang the star up, split a thin strip off the inner side of one end and cut the rest of the strip off.


Incidentally, my student took bouquets of flax flowers with her on her trip to the USA and declared them as she went through USA customs. She reports that she had no trouble getting them through.

27 Responses to “Weaving a three-dimensional star”

  1. Susan Carter Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge via the internet. I work on the Chatham Islands and it is not easy to travel abroad to learn new skills - so your sharing is greatly appreciated. May special blessings come your way since you have been kind enough to enlighten and be of service to others.

  2. Ali Says:

    Hi Susan

    Thank you for your kind comments and it’s pleasing that you have found the web site useful. A friend of mine visited the Chathams a couple of years ago and said that the flax there is soft and pliable and good for weaving with. I hope you find that with your weaving.

  3. Tracey Says:

    Hi Ali, I love your work and am so pleased that you have taken the time to share it here.

    I’ve been thinking about the christmas decorating that is happening everywhere now and wanted to make a wreath for my front door, I was originally going to use grape vine but I was wondering about perhaps weaving something with flax (or buying something from a talented individual if it’s a difficult task). Have you ever attempted something like this?

  4. Ali Says:

    Hi Tracey
    Although I haven’t made a flax wreath I think you could make one by using a circular base, made with a vine such as grape vine, and attach coloured flax flowers to it. The Hisbiscus flower would be a good flower to use and you could make different versions of it. You could also try a polystyrene base and insert the flower stalks into it. Another idea would be to thread the flax flowers onto a wreath-shaped piece of wire. You could add some foliage with shredded wispy bits of flax and tendrils made with plaited flax.

  5. cynthia Says:

    Hello, and thank you for your informative website. I am a floral designer (beginner) and I would like to incorporate leaf plaiting in some of my designs. Any ideas for me? Thanks in advance for your help.

  6. Ali Says:

    Hi Cynthia

    I do have some ideas for plaiting flax to use with floral arrangements in my book Weaving flowers from New Zealand flax which will be available for sale soon. Keep an eye on my blog.

    I have also seen palm leaves that have been plaited. The ends of each section of the leaf are plaited together using a French plait which makes the leaf curl around. As a florist you may know this technique.

    I’m sure there are other ideas around. Maybe other people could let us know about their ideas.

  7. Kristie Parata Says:

    Kia ora Ali,

    Ka tuku he mihi nui ki a koe mo enei whakaaro…

    As a librarian with an interest in weaving I am thrilled to have been shown this website and look forward to reading your book reviews and ensuring we have all this information available to community. What a taonga this is…

    Thank you for sharing your research and knowledge the Kapiti Coast community will now be able to benefit from it.

    Nga mihi,

  8. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Kristie

    I’m glad the book reviews will be of use. I’ll be putting information about another book, How to make a piupiu by Leilani Rickard, on the Book Reviews page soon too.

    Tell me something: Do libraries always buy through library suppliers, not direct from the publisher? I haven’t had any orders for my book from libraries yet, though I just received an order for some books from a library supplier. It seems a bit odd to me, because a library supplier is bound to charge a library more than they would pay by buying directly from my website.

  9. ronit Says:

    hi my name is Ronit
    I want to bay this book but i didnt anderstood how mache [I am from israel]

  10. Ali Says:

    Hi Ronit

    The cost is approximately 107 Israel New Shekels.
    Paypal will invoice you soon.

    From http://www.google.com/language_tools:
    המחיר הוא כ 107 שקלים חדשים בישראל.
    PayPal החשבונית יהיה לך בקרוב.

  11. Kristie Parata Says:

    Kia ora ano,

    Thanks Ali for your response. I have realised that I also need to thank Faye from National Library, as she triggered the email/awareness to us Kapiti Coast weavers - Nga mihi :)

    In response to Library Suppliers, I am new to the Library industry and can only speak from my personal experience. I understand a lot of NZ libraries now have book suppliers doing their choosing, as this frees up staff for other duties. With most books there is a nation wide trend for popular themes, and a certain percentage of books are automatically selected for public libraries, (despite the possibility of mark up & time delay). This process remains cost saving for our communities as ordering previously took up a lot of staff time. Our libraries are under the local council, which means ordering directly with individual book sellers can require up to 10 people to “sign off” as the necessary paperwork makes it way through our departments. I suppose this is a sign of the PC times we live in! Generally the “middle-men” library suppliers do provide a seamless service. I have forwarded your web to our supplier to source 3 copies for us, and on the upside they will now be able to share this resource with other libraries…

    I hope this helps, thanks again for the wonderful resource, I look forward to browsing the book.

    Heoi ano…………Kristie

  12. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Kristie

    Thanks for your very informative reply - and thanks to Faye for passing the information about the book on to you.

    I now understand why the library supply services are so useful. I’ve received an order for three copies of the book from a library supplier, which I assume will be your supplier, and I’m waiting for their reply to me, so I hope it’s not too long before you receive the book.

  13. Patricia Says:

    Hi Ali, thank you sooo much for my fabulous book on weaving flowers.We had to go away for a few days and I was so happy the book was in the post, before we left.Yes and i spent most of the time going over and over the book.It is so well done.I came home and practised abit.Awesome!!!!! Thanks again Ali.If you have another book out for kete or whatever, I would wat to be on your list.
    Many thanks again…Patricia

  14. Ali Says:

    Hi Patricia

    It’s good to hear you are enjoying the book and it was good holiday reading! :-)

  15. sandy Says:

    Kia ora Ali

    could you please let me know who some of the library suppliers are as i would still like to purchase the flowers book

  16. Ali Says:

    Hi Sandy

    So far, I’ve sold to the following library suppliers:
    Auckland UBS
    Academy Book Company
    Total Library Solutions
    South Pacific Books
    All Books NZ Ltd

    However, orders from new libraries and library suppliers seem to be coming in regularly at the moment, so if you have a preferred library supplier, you could perhaps draw the book to their attention.

  17. robyn Says:

    Ali - I made a comment on hohera (lace bark) last week - to the effect i was soaking the bark in bath of fresh water each day - in order to peel it off to dry (as advised) through your column. My request was for instruction to weave a small kete if anyone can help with this?? I am finding it still difficult to take the fibre off in decent sized strips - any advice - appreciated. your new book looks great - how do i order one? thank you, thank you, for a wonderful website and sharing your knowledge and skills - blessings - Robyn.

  18. trudi Says:

    ali your book is wonderful i love it. been showing it off to everyone.so look forward to more orders!ive been making flowers for presents and hav had lovely comments.they make great gifts and recomend your book as a great gift idea for people!

  19. Brigit Says:

    Thanks Ali. I learned to make this star with coconut leaves on holiday in Borneo recently. I was struggling to remember how to do it, so I appreciate the step-by-step reminder.

    BTW, while I didn’t want a coconut palm in my small Australian courtyard, I did go out and buy an NZ flax for a pot, especially :-)

  20. Sarah Says:

    Thanks for these lovely ideas and uses of flax! I am volunteering at a centre for elderly people, doing gardening, and there is a large flax plant there. I have just made the flower design, and it was quite easy, so will be suggesting that we make some christmas star decorations one afternoon as the weather gets colder. The flax is such a beautiful material to work with!
    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Holly Says:

    That star is really cool but I could’nt follow it! Can you make it easier?

  22. Ali Says:

    Hi Holly

    I’m wondering if you’ve made the original flat star first, because the steps follow on from that. If you follow the steps one-by-one and make sure each step on your star looks like the step in the photos, then it should work for you. If you’re still having trouble, why not get a friend to work through it with you. Sometimes two heads are better than one! :-)

  23. lydian Says:

    um hi ali
    i was looking at your Weaving a three-dimensional star pattern and i dont understand how to start it…. i think if you posted a youtube video for people it may be more helpful some people (like myself) are fisual learners and cannot just read it and know how to do what it is saying im sorry to bother but i was just saying that it may be more helpful to you and your costomer/viewers

  24. Ali Says:

    Hi Lydian

    Sorry you’re having difficulties with the star. This was one of my earlier attempts to write instructions and is not as clear as it could be. I’ve just added another photo, and some extra wording, which may make one of the steps easier to follow, although this three-dimensional star is a rather difficult project, and could do with larger photos, like those in my book. Also, if I was including the three-dimensional star in a book (or was rewriting this blog post from scratch), I would probably add photos and instructions for how to start the next spike, before telling the reader to repeat these steps right around the star.

    The instructions in my Flowers book are certainly clearer, as many people have commented. Also, in the Flowers book I use variegated flax, which makes it easier to see which piece of flax is going where.

    When you make the star, start with the instructions for the flat star and then move onto the instructions for the three-dimensional star. If you try it out with the flax strips as you go, you may find it easier to follow each step, rather than reading the instructions and looking at the photos without doing the movements at the same time.

    Unfortunately, even a YouTube video is not always easy to follow. I’ve sometimes found it difficult to grasp how to do something from watching a YouTube video.

  25. fran wieber Says:

    dear ali, how does one get a copy of your flowers book. please explain or advise on the what instructions to follow. it sounds like what i have been looking for a long time. regards and continued success.

  26. Ali Says:

    Hello Fran

    My book Weaving Flowers from New Zealand Flax is available directly from me.

    The cost is $35 which includes postage and packaging if it is being sent to a NZ address. The bank account to put the payment into is Westpac 03-0823-0516382-000

    Complete instructions for buying it are on the Book page of my website.

  27. hur far jag finare leende Says:

    Αppгeciate tthis post. Will try it out.