Thursday, January 27, 2011

TUTORIAL: how to make a lunar new year's paper lantern ball thing

well HELLO there!

so, if you've seen the news recently, you might have heard that the northeast united states had what they called THUNDERSNOW storms last night.  essentially, philadelphia was graced with a huge blizzard that dropped over 8 inches of snow on us...PLUS THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. 

yes.  apparently it is possible.  i was certain the world was ending.  it was terrifying.  i've honestly never witnessed anything so absurdly incompatible.  except for maybe the seagulls that frolick in the snowbanks at work. 
bizarre creatures.


we are coming up on one of the best holidays ever!  LUNAR NEW YEAR! 
this year it falls on february 3rd, and it is the year of the rabbit.  so heads up, rabbits.  this is your year.  get after it.
as for the rest of us, there's nothing stopping us from getting after it, too.  so i thought i'd start by sharing a new year red envelope paper lantern buckyball looking thing tutorial. 

traditionally, during the lunar new year, you hang out with your family, eat lots of amazing food and relatives will give out red envelopes filled with money to all the kids.  this is why it is INCREDIBLY beneficial — fiscally responsible, even — to make it home for the new year.  however, i will not make it back to texas this time, and my new year will consist of a phone call home to my mother.  she will then tell me, in great detail, all of the lovely things she is cooking, how delicious it all will be, and how sad i must be that i will be missing everything.  it's really too bad, she'll say. i'm making all of your favorites.  i guess your brother will just have to take all the wonderful left over food.  too bad for you.
she is, like most chinese mothers, full of kindness and compassion. 

since i was small, i've been really fascinated by the red envelopes that people gave out.  some of them are amazingly gorgeous, with textured red paper and gold embossing.  i loved them all, and hoarded them like the crazy child that i was. 

it wasn't until a few years ago that i finally found something to do with them.  
make a giant ball out of them!

duh.  sometimes, the answer is so obvious.

36 lunar new year red envelopes
(if you don't have these, file cards work just as well.  or really, any uniform rectangular papers)
a stapler
lots of staples

to create the ball, all you'll be doing is stapling the corners of each envelope together.
the thing to keep in mind: the short edges of each envelope will be stapled together in groups of five.  the long edges will be stapled together in groups of three.

ok.  let's begin.
1. staple together two envelopes to each other, face out.

2. now staple three more envelopes to your first pair, matching up the corners:

see how five short edges are all hanging out together?

3. now you'll staple an envelope perpendicular to the current ones, matching up the long edges:
see how three long edges are all hanging out together?

4. then repeat on all sides.

notice that short sides hang out in fives...

and long sides hang out in threes.

5. then just staple away, matching up five short sides and three long sides together.
as you staple, your ball will slowly find some structure.

once you get past the halfway point of adding envelopes, you'll start to staple existing envelopes together, to close up the ball.
see?  the bottom two envelopes have met and now need to be stapled together once and for all.

then you're finished!

string some thread through the top
balance a barstool on your piano bench
scale makeshift tower to hang the ball from your living room window
receive word that two of your beloved friends are FINALLY ENGAGED
lose balance, throw paper ball across apartment
jump around while texting congratulatory gibberish to couple
regain composure
finish hanging paper ball
take picture



Anji* said...

Love the story as always.. lol

Love the ball :)

I actually have some of these lucky envelopes, I stumbled across them on etsy a year or so ago. I used some to put badges in in the party bags for my son's dalek pirate party last year, they seemed a bit piratey to me! Not sure if I have enough left to make a ball..

Ann said...

Wow - love the ball! When you said red envelopes, I was thinking okay, red envelopes... but the picture in my mind was nothing like these pretty papers.

Happy New Year and rabbit-rabbit!

Erin Fickert-Rowland said...

Awesome tutorial! I love your photos and your story!

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

van said...

love it! i used to collect all of those suckers too.

happy new year :)

Kat said...

love the tutorial and story but loved the congratulatory gibberish more :)

BellsInSpires said...

hi anji! the red envelopes do look pretty piratey, i never thought about that. i bet they were a hit at your party =)

thanks ann! happy new year to you too!! :D

thanks, erin, i'm glad you enjoyed =)

hi van, happy new yearrr


Luvay33 said...

Cool! =) I was looking all over for this! I made something very similar back in the sixth grade, except we used paper triangles and circles (that we colored & designed ourselves) and turned it into a sphere like this one.

This is beautiful. I love origami. <3


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