I don't know about you, but I'm a huge fan of geometric creations, especially the three dimensional kind! So, when stumbled across himmeli I couldn't wait to make a tonne of them! Himmeli are traditional Finnish Christmas ornaments which are also made in other Nordic countries. There were traditionally hung above the dinner table to ensure that the coming crop would be plentiful.
These small decorative beauties are made from small sticks, which are tied together to form a lattice. Traditionally, himmeli are made of natural straw, but we're using rubber tubes which will add a pop of neon and some transparency to our final creation.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to make octahedral himmeli. Octahedron is a three-dimensional solid with eight triangular faces. Too much geometry? Don't worry - it's much easier than it sounds. Once you learn the basic technique, you can then use it to create more complex three dimensional structures, which can make striking mobiles for your home. Intrigued? Let's get started on some easy himmeli ornaments for your tree!
- Rubber tube (or caoutchouc). You will need 60cm (24 inches) for each ornament. I used a semi-transparent pink caoutchouc tube with a 4mm (0.2 inches) rectangular cross-section. You may use either natural straws, as in the traditional version of the ornament, plastic straws you might have in your cupboards, or even coffee straws which are a bit thinner. I chose caoutchouc for its transparency and flexibility. You will notice that the edges of the ornament are curved, so you need to avoid any non-flexible stuff. Rubber is quite fashionable in jewellery-making at the moment, so you can probably find it in jewellery supplies stores; if not, search online! You can also get some clear PVC hose from your local building supplies shop. For any material you choose, make sure the hole is big enough, especially if you use a thick thread.
- Thread. You'll need 1.5 metres (59 inches) for each ornament. I used waxed thread which is thicker than the sewing thread and can be handled by hand without the use of a needle. You may also use normal sewing thread together with a needle.
- Scalpel or box cutter.
- Cutting mat.
Step 1: Cut the First Set of Tubes
Take your material, caoutchouc in our case, and cut four pieces, 8cm (3 inches) in length. These pieces will be used to create the upper part of your ornament. Cut the tubes with your scalpel or box cutter. Using the scissors may be easier, but the cutter gives you more precision. Make sure to cut your tubes straight by holding the cutter perpendicular to their length.
Tip: Make sure to cut your tubes straight by holding the cutter perpendicular to their length
Step 2: Cut the Second Set of Tubes
Now cut four more tubes of 4cm in length. These tubes will be used to form the lower part of your ornament.
Step 3: Cut the Third Set of Tubes
Using your scalpel or cutter, cut four more pieces of rubber 3cm in length. These parts will be the connection tubes that will form the horizontal edges of the ornament.
You should now have all the 12 pieces you need to create your himmeli. Easy! These tubes will form the main structure of your ornament. As you may have guessed, we won't be making a regular octahedron, because not all the triangular faces will be equilateral and of equal size.
It's easier to understand what you are making by distinguishing the different sized parts, and an asymmetric model looks much better. Of course, you can always create a regular octahedron - just cut all the tubes in the same length.
Step 4: Thread the Tubes
Cut a piece of thread about 1.5 metres (59 inches). If you're using a sewing thread, pass it through the needle.
Now, pass one 8cm tube through the thread followed by one 4cm tube.
Continue by adding one 4cm tube and one 8cm tube through the thread in the aforementioned order.
Step 5: Make a Knot
Leave a small piece of thread, about 10cm from the starting end, and make a tight knot to secure those four tubes in a closed shape.
Step 6: Add Tubes and Loop
Take the long part of the thread and pass it through one 8cm tube and one 4cm tube. Now loop the thread in-between the two 4cm tubes in the structure. You don't need to make knots all the time; a loop can be just as secure. Make sure you keep the structure nice and tight.
Now add one 4cm tube and one 8cm tube to the thread.
Tip: You don't need to make knots all the time; a loop can be as safe. Please make sure you keep the structure nice and tight
Step 7: Make a Knot
You are back at the starting point. Close the structure and secure your pieces by making a firm knot. At this point, you have finished the upper and the lower part of your himmeli. All you need to do is add the horizontal parts to make it three dimensional.
Step 8: Thread Another Tube
Pass your thread downwards through a 8cm tube.
Step 9: Add the Horizontal Tubes
Pass a 3cm tube through your thread and loop it tightly at the closest vertical element.
Continue by adding the other three tubes (3cm long) and don't forget to firmly loop each time. When you add the last tube, make a knot to secure the entire three-dimensional structure.
Step 10: Knot to Secure
You are just about done. Simply pass the thread through an 8cm tube to reach the top of the himmeli and knot with the small part of the thread. Create a loop to hang it from and trim the extra threads you don't need. Your Christmas ornament is ready to hang! It is so smart, architectural and math-y! Isn't it a geo beauty?!
It may have looked a bit complicated at first, but it's a super-easy project, right? Now that you've got a grasp of it, make as many as you want for your Christmas tree. You could also tie them together to create a garland. Experiment with colors and sizes to add some variety.
For instance, by inserting a small himmeli inside a bigger one, your ornament will look much more complex and create a wow effect! Use clear hose or any transparent material and be playful with the colour of your thread. Or you can try creating a decahedron himmeli by adding three more tubes: one on the upper structure, one on the lower and one horizontal! Got it? Go on, try this out and let me know what you think! Just be warned, it's totally addictive... all I want to do now is himmeli!