April 16, 2020

Paper Stars

Stars have always had special significance to sailors, from the days of celestial navigation to superstitions regarding safe passage. Use these instructions to make your own nautical stars at home!

Sailors have always been a superstitious lot. Venturing out onto the ocean in a sailing ship was a dangerous way to make a living. Many ships that left port were never heard from again and the sailors who were onboard were lost to the sea. It’s little wonder that all sorts of superstitions evolved as the sailors tried to interpret the sea and the conditions that surrounded their safe return to port.  Today, we will make five-pointed stars, a symbol of safe return. Sailors believed it they tattooed these stars on their bodies it would bring safe passage and that they would always be able to find their way back to port.

Using the stars to find your way - celestial navigation - has been around for thousands of years. This is part of the reason symbols of stars have always been significant to sailors.

Paper Star Instructions

Supplies: paper, scissors and coloring pencils or crayons (optional!)

The paper can be any size, but 3 – 5" inches is a good range. You can use card stock, construction paper, or recycle paper from old magazines

Click the images below to view them larger. Or, click here to download them as a single pdf.

If your paper is not already square, make a square from a rectangle by folding diagonally edge to edge and cutting off the excess.

You now have a rectangle with the folded edge on the bottom. Neatness counts in making stars so try to make your folds accurate! 

You will end up with a triangular shape after this fold.

The E flap lies on the dotted yellow line when flat.

This photo shows it opening up a little but edges D and E should be flat together when you cut!

Scrap confetti?

Be patient with this part! It's a little tricky.

Make sure your creases go all the way to the center.

Ta-da! You can color your star or leave it plain.

Some other Superstitions:

  • No whistling on board: Whistling is thought to cause the wind to increase in strength. Mariners believed it was possible to whistle up a storm.
  • Don’t travel with a Jonah: Based on the story of the biblical prophet Jonah, any person or object that brought bad luck to a ship was sometimes called a “Jonah.”
  • Always step on board with you right foot: Not doing so was thought to bring bad luck to a voyage.
  • Avoid redheads: People with red hair were also believed to be unlucky. Redheads were not welcome aboard ships and were avoided by sailors before beginning a journey.

As with all our At Home Activities we would love to hear what you thought of this project! Share your photos with us by posting on our Facebook page or tagging us on Instagram @herreshoff #HerreshoffFromHome .

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