How to Make a Parol: A Filipino Christmas craft

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how to make a parol

SAN FRANCISCO — The parol, the generic term for Filipino Christmas lantern, is a popular art and craft that has entered the multi-cultural fabrics of San Francisco through the efforts of the Filipino American Development Foundation and its Annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade, which will take place this year on Dec. 13.

The Parol Festival, now in its sixth year, has become a must-see event during the holiday season, beginning with a three-month long series of parol-making workshops and culminating in a parade.

Making a traditional parol, a five-point star lantern, takes about one to three hours, if materials are precut or prefabricated. Here’s the step-by-step approach designed by the Parol Festival.

First, have the necessary supplies and materials: 10 18-inch pieces of bamboo sticks, five 4-inch pieces of bamboo pegs, 15 rubber bands, 10 twist ties, glue stick, hot glue gun with glue sticks, scissors, 22 8-by-8 square pieces of colored cellophane or papel de japón (tissue paper), cut-out paper tassels and tinsel garland, cut-out doilies and frills and extra papel de japón for the optional ornaments — tails, frills and hoop.

The bamboo sticks (12”, 18”, 24”, 36” and 60” sizes), cellophane and papel de japón are imported from the Philippines and are available at the Bayanihan Community Center, while the other supplies are available at any dollar store.

Making a parol has three phases: constructing the frame, covering the frame and ornamenting the parol.

Making the frame
Make four “V” shapes by taking two 18” bamboo sticks and connecting two ends with a rubber band. The smooth side of the bamboo should face out.

Make two flat stars. Make the two Vs and “weave” them together. Each bamboo stick should alternate crossing over or under another. Take the individual bamboo stick and weave through the top, alternating under and over. Repeat for second star frame.

Make two stars into one; adjust pieces to make an even-shaped star. Tie the five inside corners of each star with twist ties (optional), face the two stars together, smooth side facing out, and connect each point of the star with a rubber band.

Insert a 4” peg at each of the inside points of the star, continue to insert all five pegs, apply hot glue to secure, place a handle, using a fishing rod or string, on the topmost point of the parol.

Dressing the Parol Frame
Paste the paper (use cellophane and/or papel de japón on 22 panes of the frame).

Put paste to the bamboo (tip: start on the sides, then back and front. Make the front center piece the last.)

Ornamenting the parol
Apply ornaments such as patterns, doilies, garlands or paper cut-outs. Frills and tassels are elements of traditional five-point-star parols. Others put tinsel on the five-point corners of the parol instead of frills on the hoop around the star and tassels. Tails or buntot are also popular features of traditional parol.

Making the Tails
Take two square sheet of papel de japón. Fold into a triangle, then twice more to make a smaller triangle. Take the top point of the triangle with the fold on right side; fold over to the base of the triangle. Start cutting the edges of the folded triangle, starting one inch from the tip of the point of the triangle; cut from one side towards the other side; be sure to leave a space of about a half cm to the other edge. Turn over the triangle and continue cutting the edges in an alternate manner until you reach the lower part of the triangle, leaving an inch to the wide end of the triangle. Unfold and separate the tails, and insert a wire in the middle of the round cardboard to tie it to two corners of the finished parol.

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