I know what you are thinking: Deck-a-wha?
Here, let’s break it down….
Decahedron: A polyhedron with ten flat faces. Apparently, there are sub-sets of decahedron too. This one is a pentagonal dipyramid decahedron. Just typing that sentence makes me feel pretty effin’ mathtastic.
Himmeli: A traditional Finnish Christmas ornament made from short strips of straw. Back in the day it would be hung above the dinner table to ensure that next year’s rye crop would be plentiful. It was believed that the larger the himmeli, the larger the crop.
Even though its origins lay in Finland, I know Himmeli as a form of Lithuanian folk art. The two countries are not exactly next-door neighbors, so I hope the folks in Finland don’t think Lithuania is trying to jack their style. This is just one of those old world art forms that is too good to not share.
Here in Chicago, where you can’t hardly swing a dead cat without hitting someone Lithuanian, these little straw ornaments are crazy popular come Christmas time. If you ever have to switch planes in Midway airport around the holidays, I highly recommend you sneak in five minutes to visit the giant Christmas tree decorated by the Lithuanian consulate. The himmelis situation is insane.
- straight plastic straws, 16 per decahedron (snip off any bendy parts)*
- extra thin thing florist wire (I think mine here is 26 gauge)**
- long wooden BBQ skewers (optional)
*Note: Traditional himmelis are made with a needle and thread. I find the florist wire much easier to work with, but I’ll admit that the end result will dangle and move more gracefully if you use thread. Your choice!
**Note: I am using a variety of colored straws for the instructional purposes only. Is that obvious? I’m hoping so.
Near the end of one straw, poke the wire through the plastic, and twist it back, leaving at least one inch of extra wire. This is your starting point.
Think of the decahedron as a big fat star. It needs five legs. Start by creating four legs (two straws each) with a bend in the knee. Bring all four points together and use the extra wire to tie them all together in a single joint.
Not that kind of joint.
Note: do not snip extra wire, just keeping adding as you need it.
Now your big fat star has five legs. You just need to bulk it up a little more.
Ta da! Big fat star is complete. Now thread the wire back up through one of the legs to the center joint and attach one more leg. That’s it.
My mobile contains seven small decahedrons +one large decahedron, made the exact same as the small ones but I used three straws for each “leg” of the star. No tape — I just pinched the end to make them fit into one another and reinforced with 18″ wooden BBQ skewers. For such a delicate thing it is surprisingly sturdy.
In case my instructions do not make sense (imagine that?) I suggest you check out this video on how-to make a four-sided himmeli. It’s in Finnish but you don’t need to understand the words to absorb her directions. Check it: