When we think of holidays and spiders, we often think of October and Halloween. But in many parts of Europe, you will often find spider ornaments on Christmas trees. They are a symbol of good fortune and a lovely way to share an old story of humble sweet gifts and creativity.
Though spiders instill a sense of fear for many, it is hard not to admire the beauty and creativity of their webs. This holiday season you can make a natural wood spider ornament for gifts and your own tree with your children.
Wood bald knobs: 1 ¾ inch for the body, 1 inch for the head
Obtain wood bald knobs- these are available at unfinished wood supply areas at hobby and craft stores as well as online. Mark out four areas to drill on one side of the larger knob. This will be where you add the spider’s legs. Be sure to use safety goggles, and it is good to use a vice grip to hold the knob while you drill the holes. Be sure to drill straight as you go all the way through to the other side.
Cut off a small end of a thin dowel to act as a wood nail to connect the bald knob of the head and body. The bald knobs already come with a center hole. You will want to test for the right diameter when purchasing the dowel so that the pieces fit snugly. You can add wood glue to help secure the head and body together. Lightly sand around the area where you have drilled the holes if you have any rough spots. I also added a simple design on the back of the spider with a wood burner and then sealed with a beeswax polish. You can add other designs or colors to your liking.
To make the legs you will need four pieces of pipe cleaner approximately 8-9 inches in length. I prefer to use the natural cotton pipe cleaners available at places such as A Child’s Dream Come True. Take both ends of the pipe cleaner and fold toward the middle. Start on one end of the pipe cleaner and tie off a strand of embroidery floss. I used a lovely dark red for a candy cane look for the legs. Wrap all the way to the other end and tie off. Repeat for all four legs. Insert into each of the holes and arrange to represent a foot on each side of the leg.
Insert a hook loop into the top of the body of the spider and add a ribbon to hang. Present this with a ball of yarn for a creative way to dress up a tree this holiday season.
Note there are several version of the Christmas Spider legend available online, but we really enjoyed the new book A Christmas Spider’s Miracle by Trinka Hakes Noble, published by Sleeping Bear Press 2011, for the storytelling element that this project can accompany.
Chris Willow is a mother, crafter, storyteller and toymaker. She enjoys creating roots with mothers and children in her community. Her inspiration has always grown from her world she shares with her husband and two sons in the beautiful Missouri. She has a store on Etsy and blogs at mamaroots where she shares her love of crafting, mothering and reading a great book!