This easy-to-make paper ornament is made solely from cut-up security envelopes (and a bit of leftover yarn I had on hand). I always love a craft made with free materials, but never more than around the holidays, when everything around you is shouting BUY BUY BUY. You can make this ornament with any paper, but I like the treasure-hunt aspect of collecting these hidden patterned envelopes. I'd say at least 50% of the mail I get are bills and financial statements of one kind or another, so it didn't take me long to accumulate this stack.
Make a template by cutting out a shape with one straight edge from a scrap of cereal box cardboard. I went with a three-lobed, free-form shape. Alternate shape ideas: A triangle, a spiky star, an oval, a circle ... (Scroll to the end of this post to see a version made with a circle punch!)
Next, cut open the envelopes, and cut squares from them (I used 7) that are as big as twice the size of your template. Fold a square in half, with the pattern on the inside. Lay the template on top, with its straight edge aligned with the fold. Trace it lightly in pencil, and cut out the shape.
Repeat with the rest of your envelope squares. Piled up, they'll look something like this:
Next, make the tassel. It's likely there are many other ways to make a tassel, but this is what I do. From cereal box cardboard, cut a pinched square shape that's about as tall as you'd like your finished tassel to be. Tape one end of a ball of yarn to the shape, and wind the yarn around several times. Cut the wound-up yarn free from its ball.
Flip over the card, and tie a long piece of yarn around the center of the gathered yarn. Flip over the card again, and cut through the gathered yarn.
It'll look like this (below, left), and when you smooth the cut sections together, like this (below, right).
Cut another few-inch-long length of yarn, and tie it about a half-inch from the top of the folded bundle.
One of the ends of the piece you just tied can become part of the hanging-down section of the tassel. Tuck the other end through the loop above, then trim it; it'll stay hidden.
Now, assembly! Back to your folded envelope pieces, spread glue stick over one side of one folded piece, and align another folded piece on top. Continue until all of your pieces are glued and stacked. Tie a hanging loop into one end of your tassel-bundle-tying yarn piece, leaving just enough space between the loop and the tassel to fit the length of the papers' folded edge. Trim the other end of the yarn piece close to the knot at the top of the tassel.
Apply glue stick to the top of the stack of folded papers, then fan out the sections so the glue-y side meets the not-gluey side, with the looped piece of yarn captured in the center.
That's it! Add an ornament hanger, and admire your thrifty and beautiful work.
Here's a different angle, showing how the top should look, with the yarn loop in the center of all of those folds.
Want an even simpler ornament? Instead of cutting out pieces using a template, use a circle hole punch to make your shapes. My hole punch makes inch-wide circles, so they're pretty tiny; 1.5- or 2-inch circles would be better, I think. Fold each circle in half, with the pattern on the inside.
Instead of making a tassel, I just cut a length of embroidery floss, folded it in half, and tied it into a loop. Assembly is the same as above, with the floss captured in the center as the final two sides are joined with glue stick.
Happy holiday making! xo
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.