The Crown of Thorns Palm Weaving
A wonderful tradition
passed through the generations is the weaving and braiding of the palm
into sacred reminders for the Easter season. The blessed palm branches
are bestowed upon us at Passion Sunday Mass. The triumphant entrance
into Jerusalem is recalled in solemn procession and heralds the
beginning of the ancient rituals of Holy Week of the catholic church
that culminate in the glorious celebration of the Our Lord's
Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Each Palm Sunday I weave the palm into decorative auras, crosses, roses and crowns for our liturgical celebrations at church and of course to adorn my Easter food basket and dinner table. I would like to share the directions with you.
Tools to make your work easier: Scissors, stapler, needle & thread, raffia, straight, tee and corsage pins, thumbtacks, white glue - if you are braiding the palm, binder clips from office supply stores are very useful as they hold strong and you can secure them to a board to hold your palm. Or you can have someone hold the end while you braid. It is best to work with fresh palm as it is pliable while it is still green. The palm gets very stiff quickly and will dry into decorative items that will last for many years. If your palm begins to dry before you shape it and you need to soften it, immerse the palm in water for about 15 minutes.
Crown of Thorns as shown above:
Note, the photo of the weaving is horizontal, I work the pattern vertical. Begin with a center piece shown in black on the weaving pattern. Use a hard portion of the palm from edge. Try to find a stiff piece to hold up when you are weaving.
You will need four long pieces of palm, two for each side of the center piece. Clip or tape the 4 pieces and center spline, two palm, spline, followed by two more palm. I secure the entire piece to a board or table so it remains steady while weaving.
Start with the outside palm on the right. Twist it, over the palm next to it and then under the spine. Make sure you bend it back over. Refer to the diagram to see the pattern.
Now take the outer most palm on the left and fold it over the palm next to it and under the spine, and then back over. Remember to bring it back over the spline.
The inner palm on the right is twisted over the palm and under the spine, and then back and down to the right. Continue switching from side to side until you run out of palm or have enough woven to form your crown.
Then take the stapled/taped end and bring them together to form the circle. Overlap them and secure the palm with a staples, raffia, string or thin piece of palm tying it tight. Once you have it formed and tied you can cut off an excess.
Use sharp scissors and clip the outside palms at an angle to create the thorns as shown on the photo.
The Folded Cross
1. Cut two palm fronds about 1/2" x 14". Place the ends of the 2 strips together to form a right angle.
Bend the first palm down and around the back to make a loop around the second palm. Follow the arrows on the pattern.
2. Fold the second palm behind and bring it through the loop in front.
3. Bring the first through the top of the loop to create the top of the cross. Loop the second one through the same side to create the left side of the cross.
4. Tuck the loose ends into the center to finish the bottom and right side of the cross.
The four strand weave is what I use for the aura that adorns the processional cross at church from Passion Sunday throughout the Easter Season. I finish the aura with thin red ribbon streamers to represent the Sacred Blood of the Passion of Our Lord.
If you have the old fashioned palm that has very long fronds, you can just use two pieces folding one over the other at the middle. If you have the shorter fronds you will begin with four, equal length pieces of palm. Staple as shown below. The numbers are as shown, if you are using just two long fronds then the folded piece is 1 and 2, the unfolded piece is 3 and 4. The photo shows the shorter palms, stapled together in the center rather than one long frond that is able to be folded. (Note: in our area, the churches no longer purchase the whole palm crown which is hand cut resulting in very long fronds. Since they purchase pre cut palm, they are shorter so I have to use 4 fronds rather than 2 very long fronds. My fronds are about 30 to 36 inches to the tip, so to use just two, you would need fronds at least 55 to 60 inches long.)
2. Fold strip three in back of one and next to two to get this pattern.
(please note, it does not matter which frond is on top, just keep track of the numbers. Do not pay attention to the stapling pattern as it is not important. These two photos are not the same braid/plait so the stapling pattern is different. I just took photos of steps along the way then used the clearest pictures.)
3. Weave strip four over two, under three, next to one to get this pattern.
4. Fold the outside strand on the left, under four, next to three.
5. Plait two, the outside strand on the right over three, under one, and next to four.
6. Repeat these two patterns over and over, folding and plaiting from one side to the other until you reach the end of your strands.
Once you have the braids made, you can form them into circle, wreaths, heart shapes etc. Tie off with raffia or ribbons or staples. I pin the shape in place on a board until it dries. Finish the bottom with additional strands of palm and ribbon.
Use two pieces of palm the same length. The rose will form best if the palm leaf is tapered and becomes smaller as you fold. The best width is about a half inch at the bottom.
At two inches from the base, fold one leaf back, slanting 45° to the left , fold the other palm back, again at a 45° angle under the other branch.
Fold the first palm under again continuing counter-clockwise, over the front of the stem. The key is to always go over the stem and the rose will form itself.
With a nicely tapered palm the rose naturally becomes smaller as you continue. When you are happy with rose, secure the center with a pin or a couple of stiches or a small knot. If the palm is not fresh you may need to use a needle and thread to hold the rose shape, I usually just pin it in place on my board until it dries.
This is a simple project once you get the hang of the pattern. I can make a dozen in an hour or so. They make great little gifts to hand out to friends and family. Once they dry, they last for many years.
Using white glue, make and glue a tiny cross to paper or blank card. Do a simple braid of very thin palm strips, tie the ends to form a circle or heart shape. Glue to card or bookmark and cover with wax paper and weigh down with books until dry. You can get laminating sheets at office supply stores to make the card/bookmark everlasting.
I hope you will try some palm weaving this Easter season.
Thanks for visiting,