Here comes the sun!

It’s 80 degrees here today! Most people around the country saw 80 a couple months ago, but we’re pretty excited up here in the Pacific Northwest (well, to be fair on the Western side of the PNW; I know the Easterners have been roasting for awhile now). In honor of Summer and Sun and Heat, I made up a bunch of little hand fans today. These are so easy and fun to make, you’ll probably want a variety, too. They’re just the right size for tucking into your purse to take wherever you go that might lack air conditioning.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6″ craft sticks (more slender than popsicle sticks)
  • Some sort of sturdy paper (wrapping paper, old calendar, stationery, etc)
  • Scrap paper
  • Thin wire (I used jewelry-making headpins because I already had them)
  • Good ol’ Elmer’s glue
  • Pencil
  • Something sharp like a thumb tack or large safety pin
  • Thread for tassels (optional)

Fan-making supplies

The first thing you’re going to do is mark each stick where the hole for the headpin or wire will go. Since these are such short little sticks, 5 will be enough to make your fan. Line them up and make a dot about one inch in from one end.

Then take your sharp instrument of choice and poke a hole through each stick. You may be tempted to just gently tap a nail into them, but you’re going to want to fight that temptation. The wood is so thin that any kind of force like that will split the stick right down the middle. I learned from experience just to save you the emotional pain.

Steady pressure wins the race

Once you have jabbed of all of your sticks, poke the wire or headpin through all five of them.

Just like threading a needle

Ok, I forgot to list one of the tools you will need: needle nose pliers. Use the pliers to snip off the majority of the wire tail and then bend the pokey end down into a loop.

Nice and neat = no perforated fingers later on

Now you’re ready to make your template! Spread out your fan spines into a shape that you like on the scrap paper. Hold it very still and trace around your fan skeleton and each spine.

Cut out your template and place it on the wrong side of your good paper. Trace around the outside and then use the template to help mark where the spines should be.

The bottom of the fan shape may need a little bit of shaping to fit around the wire ends on your sticks; I usually cut a sort of crescent ’cause it’s purty that way. Slick some glue along the spine tracings and then lay the sticks down onto the paper and gently press the ends into the glue. Then you can pick it up and smooth the paper against the rest of the length of the spines. Let it dry really well before you start folding.

And we're folding

In theory, each section of your fan should be equal. This could probably be achieved with high-tech gadgetry like a ruler. I didn’t feel like looking for mine. As you fold your fan, bring the sticks to meet each other, one at a time and ease the paper in between. When it is completely folded, you can give the edges of the paper a nice crease.

Now you can't even tell it's uneven.

You can get as fancy and frilly as you want with these. Different paper gives a different look. I’ve made them with fabric before, which is still pretty simple (Cut out your template with a seam allowance; sew two layers of fabrics together and channels for the spines; insert spines, ta dah!) , but I thought a no-sew variety might be fun to put up here. With a little coaching, even young children can do this.

Rana demonstrates proper fan usage

This fan was made from a heavy “artisan” paper (see all the little flecks of wood and stuff) which turned out to be a great weight for the fan. It’s sturdy enough that it won’t tear easily, but not so thick to prevent it from folding cleanly. This was not pretty enough for my girly-girls, though, so I used some flowery wrapping paper for theirs.

Three fans took about an hour of my time

They also requested tassels. You could fancy these up a hundred different ways: glue some lace or ribbon around the top edge, glitter, draw your own picture, paint the sticks. They’re cheap and they’re quick, so making up a variety won’t break the bank or kill your day. I made myself a special one after these three were done:

I'm a Beatles fan! No, really. I'm a Bea... oh, you got it. Ok.

4 thoughts on “Here comes the sun!

    • That’s a good idea! I think you can still get the old books if you go in and ask. I keep meaning to do that. I had some other project in mind for the wallpaper, but now I forgot what it was. ha!

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