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How to make harakeke whetū (flax stars)!
Well it’s been a hot minute since I did a DIY post! For those who enjoyed them in the past then I apologise. No excuses.
Having a lot more time during Lockdown (for COVID-19) I was able to do a few DIY projects that I’d been meaning to try out for a little while now. It’s silly how it takes a pandemic to make you stop and do the things you’ve been wanting to do, isn’t it? But here we are.
I actually saw this wee tutorial over on Lavara Photography’s Instagram stories, and that reminded me that they existed in the first place. After watching her instructions and also checking a YouTube clip or two, I started on my crafternoon (and it really did all afternoon!).
At the bottom of our garden, we have an abundance of flax, so I headed off and collected as many young harakeke leaves as I could, making sure they were soft and not the older leaves which are difficult to work with. After getting rid of any ugly bits on them (rips, weird plant marks, spiders), I sliced them up into different widths. You can do this just with your fingernails; they rip straight down whatever cut you make in them.
Rather than give you instructions on how to exactly make them, check out the clip below. Hopefully, you can follow along!
Some tips for making flax stars
Use supple leaves: I had a few leaves that were too firm, and it was really difficult to wrap them or tuck them where they needed to go.
Different widths: The size of your flax stars is determined by how wide the original pieces of flax are. To make large flax stars, make your pieces of flax quite wide. To make small ones, split the flax narrower. I ended up with a range of different sizes of harakeke whetū, but I wanted to have a range of sizes for what I was going to do with them. If you want them all the same, cut your flax all at the same width.
Take your time: You don’t have to rush! Sometimes the flax gets stuck when you’re tucking it in. Don’t force it too much; just try again.
Practice: Doesn’t quite make perfect, I found after several hours weaving flax, but they definitely got better over time!
Uses for harakeke whetū
Lots of people make these pretty flax stars around Matariki time (Māori new year), as well as Christmastime. I made them just for fun and turned them into a garland. Here are some other ideas you could use them for:
- Christmas decorations – for the tree or for hanging in the home
- Garland – wait for them to dry out and then spray paint them
- Paper version – you can use this same method to make stars out of card or paper
- Home decor – make a bunch of little ones, and pop them into a glass vase for a centrepiece
- Kids’ crafts – these are easy enough for children to do too!
Have you made harakeke whetū / flax stars before?