How to Make a Garland with Punch

comments (24) December 8th, 2015     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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This week I take up the old reliable paper garland of my elementary school days but with a twist: Bands of paper glued end-to-end become rings of paper glued edge-to-edge.
One-inch disks make a whimsically loopy garland. For additional visual rhythm, alternate large disks with smaller disks or introduce different-colored papers.
Loops, and lots of them, are the chief ingredient for this crafty tree-trimming. Despite being only paper, these links are surprisingly strong and, with care, should last years.
This week I take up the old reliable paper garland of my elementary school days but with a twist: Bands of paper glued end-to-end become rings of paper glued edge-to-edge.

This week I take up the old reliable paper garland of my elementary school days but with a twist: Bands of paper glued end-to-end become rings of paper glued edge-to-edge.

Photo: Jeff Rudell

As a child, the official start of the holiday season began not with Thanksgiving (or, as today, Halloween), but rather with the annual rite of transforming piles of red and green construction paper-cut with an old-fashioned, hinge-armed paper cutter (not a safety rail or blade guard in view)-into 1-inch by 8-inch strips. Sometimes the cutting was done by a mindful teacher. More often than not, an arthritic wrist, or simple nonchalance left the cutting of such strips in the hands of one of us children. Although I had an aversion to sharp objects back then, just watching those strips accumulate was a foretaste of the anticipation and excitement that meant only one thing: Christmas was on its way.

My teacher would divvy up the strips of paper into brown paper bags. Each student would be given a bag of strips and dispatched home for the weekend to patiently glue each strip, end-to-end, into an interlocking chain. The resulting garlands were then to be brought back to class the following Monday, where a few favored students would have the pleasure of connecting all of the individual chains together into one, long, festive, red and green "super garland" that a much-put-upon teaching assistant would then be expected to hang-step stool at heel, yawning stapler in hand-across the ceiling of our classroom, from the bulletin board in front to its companion at the rear of the room and back again; criss-crossing above our desks until its length was exhausted.

It will likely surprise no one when I say that my garlands were always meticulously and uniformly glued (using one, carefully applied smudge of Elmer's classroom paste per strip) and that my strips never veered from the strict red-followed-by-green-followed-by-red formula. Most of my classmates, in keeping with the late '60s zeitgeist perhaps, seemed to prefer a more free-form (some might say, random) arrangement of colors (e.g., red, red, green, red, green, green, whatever), which meant I was usually able to pick out my alternating chain from amidst the jumble of holiday color that hung above our heads.

The pleasure of working with my classmates (albeit, classmates who "stubbornly refused" to see how alternating red and green was "clearly superior" to random arrangements of colors) to create something larger than any one of us had the skill or the will to create ourselves has, as an adult, found purchase in me still. I love collaborating with other creators and artists on projects. Each holiday season I like to do at least one craft project that requires the help and participation of my friends, family, nieces, and neighbors. It has to be easy, it has to be quick, and it has to yield something I can use as decoration.

This year I decided against attempting another popcorn and cranberry garland in favor of something utterly simply, a tiny bit tedious (sorry, but it's true), and wonderfully pretty: a simple chain of paper ringlets made with the aid of a few hole punches and a little patience. I expect to have enough garland to swaddle the 8-foot fir tree that will be living in my front parlor. In the meantime, I'm happy to offer here for your review, evidence of one afternoon's worth of cutting and gluing. Imagine, if you can, these few feet of interlocking chains many times longer and encircling an ornament-laden Tannenbaum. Happy tree trimming.

  The materials needed are simple: a medium-weight paper (I used white but feel free to use a festive color), two hole punches (mine were 1 inch and 5/8 inch), white craft glue, and a scissors or a craft knife.


  Begin by punching holes with the small hole punch. Allow some space between the punches to accommodate the second punch (see below).


  Using the second, larger, punch, repeat the step above, being careful to center the smaller hole in the middle of the larger punch.


  Keep repeating the above two steps until you have a very large pile of ringlets. A garland of any reasonable length will require many more disks than you imagine. This is where the eager hands of a child (or in my case, a few nieces) come in handy.

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posted in: scissors, craft glue, hole punch

Comments (24)

SusanneBendtner writes: Such a beautiful idea, perfect of you want to encourage kids do more crafting and stuff.
Posted: 6:08 am on January 25th
Shangam writes: Love this idea, looks cool. you could do this with hearts fro Valentines day.
Posted: 2:57 pm on December 13th
EchoLin writes: creative idea, is that a tree branch? or something? i really like it, Looking forward to your other creative projects.
Posted: 2:27 am on March 13th
Nodan writes: Amazing, I decide to have a try.
Posted: 4:30 am on February 5th
freebrd06 writes: Wow, I'm truly impressed. It looks so much better with round rings, so much more graceful. Thank you for sharing!
Posted: 1:55 am on December 17th
Sunshine43 writes: Hey Jeff,
I really like that tree you bought. I think I would decorate that poor thing too. And what you came up with is astounding!
That does look like you punched with a punch and you used card stock instead of paper. I do hope I'm right because that is the kind of tree I like. Where did you buy that tree at? I really want to buy a tree like you decorated. That is the best kind! Then I can make your garland and decorate my tree.
Smiles, Barbara
Posted: 1:42 am on February 23rd
loyl writes: I love this great idea thank you!!
Posted: 7:48 pm on December 20th
ElizaDaisy writes: Hello
Posted: 7:48 am on November 4th
ElizaDaisy writes: Hello,
I am doing I.C.T. GCSE coursework and I would like to use this demonstration as part of my final peice.I will give the original author full credit.
Thank you.
S.t. Marylebone School.
Posted: 7:48 am on November 4th
ElizaDaisy writes: Hello,
I am asking for permission to use this as I am doing I.C.T. GCSE coursework and I would like to use this demonstration as part of my final peice.I will give the original author full credit.
Thank you.
S.t. Marylebone School.
Posted: 7:47 am on November 4th
ElizaDaisy writes: Hello,
I am a 14 year old girl and I go to S.t. Marylebone School. Currently I am doing I.C.T. GCSE coursework and I would like to use this demonstration as part of my final peice.
I am asking for your permission to use this if I give the original author full credit.
Thank you.
Posted: 7:45 am on November 4th
cftsimon writes: I am fairly new to this site and so I have just discovered your work and have spent the whole day looking at your work. Amazing, beautiful and gorgeous work. Where in the world do you get your ideas? Have you written a book with instructions for your work as I would certainly be in line to buy one.

Thanks again for all your beautiful and inspiring art.
Posted: 8:24 pm on January 16th
koolmomvb writes: Totally beautiful! I can picture the same garland in pastels to decorate our "Easter Tree" Made from a spindly tree branch, spray painted white, "planted" in a small clay pot that's been painted white as well. Oooh can't wait to get started!
Posted: 1:39 am on April 13th
margaretlouise writes: Being new to paper crafts, I found out why the 1" and 5/8" punches were used after I had cut hundreds of aqua and acid green 2" circles and found it almost impossible to cut a 1" center! I ended up cutting the 1" off center. It worked really well. After all, symmetry is boring.
Posted: 1:55 am on December 27th
Toffy writes: It is clever and stunning. Kudos
Posted: 5:15 pm on November 24th
eveh writes: I love this idea. The white is beautiful. thank you for your great tutorial and back story. I think this will become a favorite garland.

I have a roll of linen look, high end, wallpaper, that my BIL the wallpaper hanger, gave me. It feels and looks like fabric although it cuts like wallpaper. I wonder if it would work for this. I have been looking for something special to make from it.
Posted: 2:16 pm on November 22nd
javadiva writes: You are so gifted at making ordinary white paper look stunning!
Posted: 11:02 am on November 22nd
Angela009 writes: Jeffery:

One of my Fiskateer friends linked us all to your project. We love it and of course we love that you're using one of our favorite tools- a Squeeze Punch. However, now we're debating whether or not your scissors are Fiskars are not... can you put an end to the debate?

And for the record, I would be a red, green alternating traditionalist too.

Angela Daniels
Lead Fiskateer
Posted: 10:45 am on November 22nd
lamerex4 writes: When our 4 children were young we created a red and green chain on Thanksgiving to count down the days until Christmas. It was then hung prominently from a top cupboard at the end of the counter in the kitchen. Every morning they took turns and would remove the bottom link of the chain. They loved to watch the chain get smaller day by day. The chain was a great way for a young child to visualize how much longer they had to wait for Santa's arrival. Thanks for bringing back such a great memory!
Posted: 9:50 am on November 22nd
quitethecrow writes: Hi Jeffery...I just found this site and your wonderfully elegant contributions! I have added links to your page here to my blog as I hope to increase your fan base! I hope you don't mind. I've also added your feed to my account. Your work is beautiful, inspiring and simple. I love how you turn a phrase, which makes reading your posts not only instructional but amusing too. Thank you for sharing your brilliance!
Posted: 10:06 am on November 21st
Peggy123 writes: Wow! Everything you do is amazing! I can't wait to make the Garland! Plus your direction is so easy to follow. I love the way you write-you have a way with words. I look at your blog every week, I just love it! Thank you!
Posted: 11:15 am on November 20th
Sister_Diane writes: Oh, my goodness. Utterly beautiful. I love it on the wire tree, so you can enjoy the form of the paper to the fullest.
Posted: 1:41 pm on November 17th
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: This project is unreal! Stunning, simple, gorgeous and innovative - just perfection. Your tutorial is easy to follow and the pictures are amazing. Thank you!

And, what I love most of all is your back story on the project. I love your writing style, and your understanding that - so often - it's the story behind the craft that makes it so special and memorable.
Posted: 10:38 am on November 17th
AWilcox writes: The Days of Popcorn Garland are OVER!

Your ideas and creativity is AMAZING! I love this garland and plan on recruiting all my nieces in creating yards of this amazing piece of art. Thanks so much for always coming up with the NEXT BIG THING! And for coming up with a garland that is NOT edible and will help not only my Christmas tree look fabulous but also keep my waistline slim.

Posted: 10:29 am on November 17th
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