Saturday, May 8, 2010

*Guest Post* How to make a "mini" maypole by Wulf

I asked this week if my Beltane swap partner, Wulf, if he'd like to explain to you all how he came up with this wonderful idea of a 4" high Maypole. He gladly accepted! :D

When Andréann said she'd love a mini-maypole for Mariann, my first thought was “It'll have to fold up somehow or I'll never be able to mail it.” I imagined something that stood on the floor that the two of them could dance around; it wasn't until later that I realized she'd probably meant a miniature maypole to sit on the table! I've worked as an opera prop builder for 25 years, so a full-size maypole that could fit into a small mailing box seemed a perfectly natural thing to ask for. I often forget that most of the world doesn't work that way.

It also had to be lightweight, and sturdy enough to be played with by a toddler. (I just substituted “to be handled by a tenor” and figured it would be about the same.) I also didn't want it to be too “good”, so it wouldn't be a tragedy if someone's dancing got too energetic and it was damaged. I like cardboard tubes as a building material because they have exactly the needed qualities: they're lightweight, rigid, sturdy and above all, cheap – usually free. So of course I never throw them out, either at home or at work, and was able to find a good one that was about the right diameter and long enough. I cut it into four sections (using a bandsaw, but one of the other nice things about cardboard tubes is that you can easily cut them with just a craft knife.) To join the sections together I needed another tube exactly the right size to fit either into or over them. Of course even in my vast tube collection there was nothing precisely the right diameter, but I did find one that fit over, though a bit loosely.

I cut short pieces about 6" long and glued them onto three of the tube sections, extending about half way past one end of each. (The bottom section would fit onto the base and not need an outer sleeve.) Because the outer tube was slightly large, I built up the end of the smaller tube with a couple of layers of brown kraft paper glued on to make a snug fit. The other ends also needed to be thickened just enough to make them fit precisely but still slide on and off easily. I was originally going to glue on a layer of thin felt, but it was much too thick and with a bit of experimentation I found that a single layer of adhesive cloth tape was exactly right. Easy!

I'd like to say I carefully calculated the optimal width for a stable base, but I have to admit I just made it fit the scrap of plywood I happened to have! I used hardwood marine plywood because it's quite heavy and is much stronger than ordinary construction plywood. That means you can cut it into quite thin shapes without it being too fragile. And one of the problems I had got myself into by making a two-piece slotted base is that the pieces that fit up inside the tube were going to have to be quite thin but would be subject to a lot of stress. If I didn't have to make the base come apart for mailing, I would have just used a circle of ordinary plywood with a piece of wood screwed to it to fit up inside the tube.

The top of the maypole is the part that I would improve. I wanted it to be a pinecone shape, which I made by cutting rows of petals out of stiff paper and gluing them over a styrofoam egg. Even as I was doing it I realized I should have used felt. It would've been easier to shape over the egg so I could have cut larger petals, and would have made a better finished shape.

My original plan was to cover the pole with gift wrap, but when I tried it didn't look very good and was going to be awkward to deal with the raised sleeve sections. In the end I just gave it a base coat of gesso and painted it with acrylics, which was better. Fortunately the cardboard tube already has a spiral seam on it, so it was easy to wrap a strip of paper around to draw out a nice even spiral.

I happened to have three lengths of 1 in. ribbbon in good colours, and tied it onto the top with lengths of ¼ in. ribbon. Little bells onto the ribbons give it a bit of jinglyness.

After it was all assembled I realized I'd made it bigger than was really necessary. I wasn't sure how tall Mariann was, but I knew this would be taller than her. (Though I was surprised to see that it was almost twice her height! So tiny!) But toddlers grow very fast, and the extra height means she'll be able to dance around it for a couple more Beltanes before it's too short. By then I imagine it'll be danced to pieces anyway!

You can find Wulf writing in his blog, Into the Woods...

In the spring of 2008 we bought 40 acres of land just north of Colborne, Ontario. Mostly mixed hardwood forest, with no improvements except a primitive road and a well, it awaits our slow progress from city dwellers to forest folk. This is the record of our journey.


  1. Thanks for the blog plug. I love all the Dancing Mariann photos! You're right about her being photogenic - even out of frame and blurry, she's always adorable!

  2. wow this is awesome, I'm going to have to see if I can gather up the materials to make myself one.

  3. I'm so glad Wulf shared how he did this! I think I may have to make a full sized one to dance around next Beltane. :)

  4. I was so envious of the maypole. Thanks for sharing the instructions Wulf, because I am going to have to give it a go.


Thanks for commenting!

Intense Debate Comments

About Me

My photo
I'm a 23 yr old mommy of two little pixies, sharing my life with my best friend. We live in La Belle Province, French is our first language. In the middle of nursing and caring for a toddler's need, I sew, draw, paint, and take pictures to tell. We also struggle to live an healthy life, apparently surrounded by people that doesn't care much, and we're on budget, too!


2nd About me activity air alar altar alternative apples apron art astrology Aux Demilunes avatar baby baby food beach bedding Beltane birth stories Birthday Crown birthdays bloomers Blue body painting books boy bread breadmaking breastfeeding Butterbeer and Fantomp cake cake toppers camera Candy Fairy Cauldron celebration child's craft children's book children's cloth cloth cubes clothing collage cookies cooking Costume Craft craft room creature crochet crown cupcakes cushions decor dessert diapers diner dinning table diy DIY day Dollhouse dolls dragon drawing dreadlocks dress earth eco education elementals elf etsy update fabric fairy fall felt felt food fire flower food Full moon art fun furniture gardening gift gifts girl girl room giveaway glass god granola green Guest Post Halloween handmade gift Harry Potter harvest heart herbs holidays home hoodie Imbolc inspiration island jewelry kid kid toys kid's art kitchen kitchen witchery knitting landscape less meat Litha lunch Mabon Magic make your monday Mariann the photographer Master Bedroom maternity Maypole meditation Mother Earth move my project under 15 necklace needlefelting onesie orange organization Ostara pagan painting path peg personal photoshot pink pixie suit plaid play kitchen playing with you food plush Pointed Hat pointed hood Poppet Potion pregnancy pretend play pumpkin punk Québec Quidditch quilt rag quilt rant recipe reinvented retro-cooking month review rhythm right now I AM ritual sabbath Samhain sea sea house seasons sewing sharpies shoes shop siblings skirt soap something about me spellbook spells spinning spirited child spring strawberries swap swaps sweater tattoo tea tea party the color red The Crafty Witch the horde of angry pagans this moment Thrifty finds to-do list toddler toddler crafts toy toymaking tradition tutorial tutu unicorn vacation valentine Waldorf Waldorf doll wand water watercolor Wish list Witch witchy things wood painting wooden toys yarn along yarn along. crochet yellow yoga Yule