Easter Crown of Thorns  (small wreath)

Take one blade of palm frond and slide your fingernail along the thick "spine" of the leaf- slitting it length wise, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in width.
Do the same with the remaining part of the leaf blade shredding it into 1/8 or 1/4 inch wide ribbons.
You will need one firm "ribbon" (coil of shredded leaf) from the spine of the leaf and three "ribbons" of the softer part of the palm leaf blade. ~~Trim them all to the same length-cutting at the blunt end.

HELPFUL HINT:~~Place the fresh palms you will be using for other "crowns" in a plastic bag. ~~Store them in the refrigerator or a cool place, to keep them pliable and easy to bend. ~~~~ You can also re-use dried palms by boiling them in water to soften.   If you do, cool the palm blades until you are able to handle them and keep them moist while you are weaving.  Dried palms do not keep well when stored in the refrigerator.  They will mildew.

Secure the ends of all four pieces of leaf "ribbons" at one end in a clip (clothes pin, beige thread or clamp) or have someone hold the ends together firmly.

START: You are going to braid the three softer strands around the firmer strand of palm leaf "ribbon".

If you are right-handed try to place the stiffer "spine" piece (of palm leaf "ribbon"), second from the edge on the left of your bundle of four strips. ~~Reverse these directions for left-handed people if they find the braiding directions difficult to follow.

#1 strand starts on left of center "spine" ribbon (#2) and remains straight until it's turn to fold. ~~Hold these two strands firmly in your left hand (don't let go) and move your right hand to weave the other strands. ~~
"Ribbon" #2 is the strand you will be weaving the other "ribbons" around.  "Ribbon"#2 always remains straight- do not fold it.

Pull "ribbon" #3 out to the right side and leave it there.

Grab #4, fold it over #3, under the "spine"#2, then over #1 twist/curl it downward ----meanwhile at same time-with your left hand pushing it(see it has become #1 now) toward the center folding it over "spine"#2 and hold it out to the right (now it is in #3 position), while you are threading #4 over it ---   (Notice all of the "ribbons" have changed positions to replace the "ribbon" that was in that position previously.) -----

photo: close-up of weave pattern Now grab the piece that is in #4 position.    Twist/turn #4 piece down and over top of #3, moving toward the center, going down under the "spine"#2 and over the "ribbon" that is in position #1. Go past (over) #1, twist/turn in a "down and under motion" then moving toward the center and over #2 spine piece -- keeping moving it to the right--- when it is in place on the right side it becomes position #3.  Hold it in place with your left hand.
And so! the "ribbon" that was #4 (the one you have just woven) moved along crossed #3 and #2, becoming position #1, moving toward the right - crossed over #2 again and came to rest at position #3 and twisting over itself, it will start the next round as #4.
  Repeat the pattern (continuously) until you ALMOST run out of palm length.

~~~~Now bend your braid around in a circle so you can join both ends together. Position them so that the palm pieces will not slip loose and bind them together with some beige thread - finish it off with a square knot. ~~~~ You can tie both bundles (at each end of the braid length) together OR tie each end separately then bind all of them together to make a circle.

You may use those long, thin, curly palm threads that peeled off when you were shreading the palm blades into ribbons-- to bind the circle ends, too.   Ms. Helen and I prefer using the thread to bind with.

To make the "thorns" - use scissors to cut (on an angle) small cuts 1/3 of the width of the "ribbon" ON A DIAGONAL to the length of the ribbon. ~~Make one cut in each outside loop of the braid. ~~Be careful! ~~Do not cut all the way through the ribbon - only 1/3 the width on a diagonal. ~~Do this all the way around the outer edge of the braid/crown. ~~Using your finger curl these tiny points "upward" and curl all of them in the same direction.

HELPFUL HINT: If the palms begin to dry out refresh them by soaking them in water. ~~Take them out and shake well to remove the excess water.

photo: crown of thorns Tie a short length of purple, lavender or pink "satin" ribbon (Easter passion colors) over the bound ends of the crown to create a bow or make a square knot. ~~You are finished.

Some people like to leave the thin curly tips of the palm lengths dangle out from the one end of the palm crown. It is a personal preference. ~~You can make long purple ribbon tails or short ones. ~~I use short ribbons with the ends cut on an angle because that was the way I was taught. ~~Hang the crowns on the frames of religious pictures, crucifixes, statues, grave stones, etc... in a place of respect because the palms have been blessed.

This Easter palm craft was taught to me by Mrs. Helen Freeburger of Sacred Heart of Mary Church. The "crown of thorns" helps us to remember the sacrifice of the Easter Passion, throughout the year. Helen's wish. Please, pass this palm tradition on to future generations. Each year, try to teach one new person how to make the "crown of thorns" and help to preserve this traditional Easter craft into the next millenium.

There are other palm craft traditions in the world and I wonder if anyone can tell me about them.  They are disappearing as time goes on. I am collecting palm weave craft ideas and the instructions. Even if you can not remember how to make them, perhaps you can describe an unusual design to me and I will research it.   In the future I will re-create and illustrate the instructions, to share and to pass along at Easter time.  Please write to me, by using the OWL "pagemaster "symbol, located on my index page.  Thank you.

Palm Craft: Crown of Thorns
Palm Craft: Cross (basic style no. 1)
Craft: more in the future
Craft: more in the future
Craft: more in the future
Craft: more in the future

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