Google+ House Revivals: Make a Chinese New Year Wreath!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Make a Chinese New Year Wreath!

We recently received an invitation to celebrate the Chinese New Year with some friends who moved here from China. I went to Chinatown to purchase some red envelopes for the children who will attend the party, but while I was there I was so inspired by all the pretty papers and colors in Chinatown!

We used to live in the neighborhood, but I had forgotten how much we enjoyed living there. Our Chinatown is also known as the International District, and represents a lovely mix of cultures. As I walked around, I was reminded of the night my husband and I ate green tea ice cream in our new apartment -- the only utensils we could find were lobster forks, so that is what we ate ice cream with. Now, on special occasions, we always eat ice cream with lobster forks.

I walked a bit  more and remembered how my son used to play Go and chess with some older gentlemen in the neighborhood at a local restaurant when he was between semesters.  They were so gracious to teach him, and somewhat amused that this young man with wild platinum hair, ivory skin, and pale blue eyes would want to sit and and play board games with them in the evenings.

I remembered watching a young boy learning to ride his bicycle in a communal courtyard, the same courtyard where local dance troupes would give seemingly impromptu performances. During festivals, there were parades, and the dragon teams were amazing to watch.

The Peking duck hanging in the windows of local shops brought back memories of  walking up to King Street on rainy evenings to get the BEST duck and barbecue. You really had to walk, no matter how rainy. The barbecue up there is so popular that there is nowhere to park, so you just zip up your rain jacket, pull your hood up, and climb the hill! It's totally worth getting soaked to the bone.

Walking around Chinatown, I realized I wanted to make something for myself for the Chinese New Year -- a reminder of those early days exploring our new city.

Along with the traditional red envelopes (these are filled with money and given to children for New Years), I found some lovely handmade paper, some patterned deli paper, and some washi paper (our local Chinatown tradition includes remnants of an old Japantown).

Using the papers I found, I made this festive Chinese New Year rosette wreath. I was inspired to make a rosette wreath by this project, found at Sowdering About  in Seattle.

To make your own wreath, you will need to make an assortment of rosettes in different colors and shapes and patterns. To make my rosettes, I altered the instructions from these folded paper stars.  Basically, I made as many pleats in the paper as I felt the rosette needed, then folded them in the center and stapled. For larger rosettes, I sometimes stapled two pleated papers together. Then I glued the petal edges together to form one round rosette.

Before gluing your rosettes together, you can cut petal shapes into them, or you can leave the edges straight.

I folded several of the red envelopes into rosettes for the wreath, as well.

For a wreath form, I cut four layers of poster board into "donut" shapes, using a plate and a saucer for templates. I glued the layers together for rigidity. Next, I stapled a hanger onto the back of the wreath form (I used a sandwich bag twist tie to form a hanger -- nothing fancy). The rosettes were attached with hot glue.

I tucked a couple of red envelopes into the wreath to add a celebratory touch, and because that's how this whole project started.

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? I'm looking forward to our friend's party, and hope to learn more about this tradition.

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