Guest Feature: Paper Plaiting
Today we have a very interesting tutorial for you, by Elizabeth Moad. Paper plaiting or weaving is a traditional technique with a lot of potential for making modern decorations and accessories, as well as Elizabeth’s traditional wheat sheaf designs.
In the olden days it was the custom for a country lad to take an evening walk with his lass in the fields at harvest time. The lad would weave and plait straw to make a buttonhole. If the couple were courting, the lass would wear it over her heart as a token of her love. With this in mind, and by adapting techniques used by straw weavers and corn dolly makers, wonderful harvest designs can be made, but entirely from paper. Combined with quilled wheat ears they can make wonderful and unique cards and gifts.
Find out how to make this project with our tutorial:
You will need:
- 3mm wide yellow paper
- Cocktail stick (toothpick)
- PVA (white) glue
- Quilling tool
Six strand plait
Please note the six paper strands are labelled for the purposed of this tutorial, but this would not be necessary for the weaving!
Take six 40cm lengths of 3mm wide light yellow paper. Glue one end of each strip of paper together (below, left), so they are splayed out in a star shape with a gap at the bottom. Now take the length marked A and fold over to where the gap is, between the lengths marked C and D (below, right).
By folding A down you have now filled one gap but created another gap where A was, between F and B.
Now fold D up to the new gap between B and F (below, left).
As there is a gap where D was, fold B over to the gap between A and E (below, right).
Do you see where we’re going with this yet? Each time you have folded a strip over, the next strip you’ll fold is the next strip clockwise from the previous strip.
We just moved B. Moving clockwise from B, the next strip is E (above, right). So the system of ‘filling the gap’ by folding over each length continues, with E folded over to the gap between C and D (below, left).
Moving clockwise from the new position of E takes us to C. So fold C over to the gap between B and F (below, right).
Fold F down to the gap between A and E (below, left).
Fold A up to the gap between C and D (below, right).
Now you are back at step 1, so you can run though the whole folding sequence again.
It will take some practice to begin with, but it is quite simple once you have the knack! I hold the papers in my left hand and use my right hand to fold the lengths over. Plait the 40cm length and then attach another 40cm lengths to each of the six ends. Continue to fill the gap, plaiting, until you have the required length. The plait can now be stretched slightly to lengthen it.
To make the wheat ears take lengths of the same light yellow paper, varying between 4cm and 8cm long. Using a quilling tool, make loose closed coils and then pinch each into a teardrop shape. Glue these together starting with the smallest to form an ear of wheat. Make 9 wheat ears and attach.
Tip: While it is best to plait in one session to keep an even tension for a uniform result, you will get hand ache, so only plait for an hour and then take a break.
Alternative: Four strand plait
This is formed in exactly the same way, but start with 4 strands and a gap. Again, remember to move clockwise each time to pick up the next strand, and you’ll never lose your place. This wreath was made with 3 lengths of the 4-strand variant twisted together:
My name is Elizabeth Moad and I live in Suffolk, England. I am a busy designer and began quilling over 10 years ago, but I enjoy using any papercraft technique. This has lead me to write four craft books, the latest of which is called “Thrilling Quilling“ by David & Charles Publishers. As I enjoy teaching and sharing ideas I hope that this tutorial sparks lots of creativity in you! Read about me or contact me at www.elizabethmoad.com
I’ve seen paper jewellery made with this paper plaiting technique, and I’m sure you could apply it to other paper crafting too. Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing the secret with us!
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