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Wartime Decorations

Paper Chains and Ornaments

During the years of WWII, food and supply shortages required rationing and sacrifice of some comforts at home. Supplies like gasoline, butter, sugar, and canned milk were diverted to the war effort. War also disrupted trade and limited the availability of other goods like rubber. By 1942 a ceiling was placed on most goods, and Americans received their first ration cards – also known as the “Sugar Book."

Christmas celebrations were affected by the rationing program of WWII as well. Christmas trees were in short supply because of lack of manpower to cut them and space on trains to transport them. Materials like aluminum and tin – used to make ornaments – were also scarce

Some families threw out their German blown glass ornaments and exotic Japanese ornaments as soon as the war began. Families began making their own ornaments at home. Materials like paper, string and natural elements like pinecones were used. Some magazines published ornament patters to follow.

You have probably made a paper chain with interlocking strips of decorative and colored papers. Children created these same simple decorations with newspapers and paper bags in the 1940’s. Links were connected with flower paste. More intricate ornaments could also be made easily at home.

Your family can make this 3D ball ornament from scrap paper, construction paper or any decorative paper you have. Try using Christmas wrapping paper!

Supplies: double-sided paper, string, glue dots, scissors, a round object to trace or a large round punch, wire. If you plan on making several ornaments, I would highly recommend getting a circle punch. You will need 9 circles for each ornament.

Step 1- Trace and cut out 9 circles.

Step 2- Fold each circle in half.

Step 3- Stack all the circles into one stack and place a piece of wire along the center fold of the stack. Wrap around back and twist to tighten. Make sure to leave some wire at the top for a loop for hanging on the tree. You can place three staples along the fold instead of wire if that is easier.

Step 4- Attach a piece of string around the center of the ornament. I tied mine and used a dab of glue along the paper. You could also tie the knot at the bottom and adorn with a bead to hide the knot. This makes for a little more polished look for a fancier tree.

Step 5- Using glue dots (you can use regular glue if you have little clips to hold it together until it dries, If you use the permanent glue dots, they will adhere immediately and make your life much easier!) begin by putting a few glue dots on the top third of the circle. Attach the two sides, then alternate to the bottom third on the next circle and attach the two sides. Repeat this pattern until all the sides are complete. I added clips to this one to help you see the pattern of gluing.

Have a ball making these paper ball ornaments!






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