Sunday, December 02, 2012

Retro Ornament: How to Make a Polish Porcupine

I wanted to take a break from the pop culture reminiscing to share a retro Christmas craft with you all. 

These are called Polish porcupines. We've been making them in my family before I was born. The Polish call them "jezyk" which technically, translates to hedgehog. Sometimes they're also called Polish stars or Polish star urchins. Whatever you want to call them, these are super fun and easy to make--and you can use practically any kind of easily bendable paper to get a few different looks. Even aluminum foil can be used. 


Here's what you need to make them:

Paper--any kind as mentioned, even leftover wrapping paper. I like to use shiny foil origami paper that you can buy in squares in craft stores. When you put a bunch of these brightly colored beauties on a white or silver tree, you've got yourself a very retro/mid-century modern look. 

A jar or glass to trace onto the paper to cut it into circles--It's best to use  something that will give you a circle around 4" across or slightly larger. You can also use a CD as a tracer to give you larger ornaments. 

A sharpened pencil--this is important because a nicely sharpened pencil is needed to get those pointy "spikes" in the ornament (and it will also help you trace your circle.)

Craft glue, and toothpicks to help you spread just the right amount as you create the spikes (as you can see from the photo above, I went retro with the Mod Podge.)

A sewing needle, and thread.

Step 1: Trace your chosen paper and cut out the circle shape. When I use the foil origami paper, I find that I need 8-10 circles to make one Polish porcupine, so repeat several more times until you have enough circles. You can mix colors if you like (for the purposes of showing the steps below, I used leftover matte origami paper that I had on hand.)

Step 2: Fold a circle in half, then half again, then half one more time. Open it up. You'll now have 8 creases and you want to cut along these creases, but don't cut all the way to the center. Leave some space in the middle because you'll be threading the circles together when they're ready. 

Step 3: Now this is the tricky (and time consuming!) part. Using the sharpened pencil point, you're going to roll each section of the cut circle around it as shown. I usually put a bit of glue on the left side of each section with a toothpick, place the pencil in the center at a slight angle, and wrap the right side of the cut section around the pencil first, making sure it's tucked underneath, then wrap the left glued side around the pencil the other way. It might take some practice to get it rolled tightly and to know where to affix the glue. Repeat and each circle will have 8 spikes when done. Then repeat with the other cut circles. 

Step 4: When you think you have enough spiked circles, stack them all on top of each other. I usually rotate each layer slightly so that the spikes overlap into place. 
Step 5: Using thread and a sewing needle, thread the circles together by bringing the needle through the center of the stacked circles all the way up through the bottom (be sure to knot the end of your thread) and then all the way back down through a second hole. Then I create a loop for hanging the ornament before cutting the thread. 

I'll also adjust the spikes on the top and bottom of the ornament by bending them slightly to help it take on a more rounded, even shape. And that's it! However, making one takes time so don't expect to have a whole treeful in one afternoon, but it's definitely fun to set aside an afternoon and put on the Christmas music while making these. 

Here's one of my smaller trees decorated sort of 60s style a few years ago featuring some Polish porcupines (yep, those are the Beatles underneath the tree!)

6 comments:

phairhead said...

gorgeous!

Chelly said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Pam. :-)

JZ said...

Beautiful, fun, and a lot classier than the tree topper I got at Target the other day...:)

ChatterBlossom said...

I've actually never heard of these before, but they are so cute! Thanks for the tutorial!
-Jamie
http://chatterblossom.blogspot.com/

ApacheDug said...

How cool Pam--give me handmade stuff like this over some of those pricey Hallmark ornaments anyday.

(Man I am digging those Beatles under that tree too!)

LaraAnn said...

These are really nice. I've always loved homemade ornaments the most Your tree looks so lovely - very colorful.

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