ROCKPORT — In America, strings of popcorn and cranberry are traditional decorations on the Christmas tree. In Germany, the ornaments are also handmade, but with a little more flair. Antje Roitzsch, a founder of The Maine Beehive in Rockport, shared her family tradition creating handmade German Christmas ornaments Dec. 2, as part of a month-long series to create four different types of paper ornaments.
Sitting around the craft table, several participants watched Roitzsch carefully as they worked the fiber ribbon with elaborate folds — akin to origami. “My mother had send me this ribbon from Germany many years ago,” she said. “Always, before Christmas, we would all sit around and she would make bunches and bunches of them for gifts for the Advent time.
“I was searching for materials here in the U.S., and found it a little challenging to recreate the fiber ribbon we use, called Ramieband. It’s not paper and it’s not cloth, it’s something in between,” she said. It turns out the U.S. manufactured ribbon, the shiny kind that wraps presents, just doesn’t have the right flexibility to create the little star ornament.
Each week they will attempt a new design of paper or fiber ornament, based on Roitzsch’s traditions, including designs incorporating colored thread wrapped intricately around an ornament in geometric and symmetrical patterns akin to string art or Japanese Temari.
Roitzsch said that her mother taught her most of the designs, excluding the threaded ornaments, which she said her geometry teacher taught them to do in sixth-grade.
On a personal level for her, it’s not just about teaching a cultural skill to Americans, it’s also a comforting way to pass the time with new friends — working with her hands, the way she always did as a child during the holidays, making the beautiful little paper jewels.
“It’s putting the stress of buying stuff away and focusing more on doing,” she said.
Participants can still join in on the three remaining Advent Mondays from 3 to 5 p.m. Cost is $10 for materials each session, bring your own scissors and colorful thread.Reservations needed, and space is limited to 10 people. Call 236-3111.
The Maine Beehive is located at 243 Commercial St. in Rockport, next to Yachting Solutions on Route 1. For more information visit themainebeehive.com
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org