We’re learning about Frida Kahlo at the moment and two of the things that stands out about Ms. Kahlo are the fact that she was fiercely patriotic and proud of her heritage, and the bold, bright colours she wore.
Often wearing flowers and using them in her paintings as a celebration of her national heritage, their symbolism of fertility and fecundity was also pertinent to Kahlo who was unable to have children herself as a result of the accident in her teenage years. 1
Frida Kahlo contracted Polio as a child, and this left her with one leg thinner than the other, so much so that she was quite self-conscious about it. This also played a part in her wardrobe choices into adulthood. Frida might have hobnobbed with the high-society of New York and San Francisco and even, later, Paris, but she never adopted the ‘flapper’ style dresses that were popular at the time, choosing to stick with the long skirts and maxi dresses of the matriarchal Tehuantepec society of her Mexican heritage.
I find my children concentrate better when their hands are busy, so we were able to chat about Frida Kahlo, patriotism, disease, and the obstacles that come up in people’s lives while we folded tissue paper into carnations for Frida Kahlo inspired headbands.
To make the headbands, you require a rectangle of tissue paper per flower, some sellotape to hold it together and – I had hoped to use elasticated headbands, but I couldn’t find any locally – pipe cleaners with hairclips.
To make the flowers, fold the tissue paper lengthwise to make a long narrow strip, then fold it in half down the middle. Starting at the closed end fold the paper about an inch, then flip the unfolded bit underneath and fold an inch again. Repeat over and over, creating a zigzag out of the paper. When it’s all used up, pinch the bottom closed bit together and use a bit of tape to hold it all together (you could also sew a stitch in it, but we don’t have the patience for that just now!)
Pull apart the top part of the zigzagged tissue carefully (tissue paper tears easily) to create a fan, then gently separate the layers, pulling them as far out as they’ll go, creating your paper flower.
For the ‘headband’ we twisted together two pipecleaners, making a loop at the end of each (the ends can be quite sharp, so bending it inwards should help protect little skulls from being stabbed!) Once it’s all twisted together, create a gap between the twists, and place your flower in it, then twist it back together again.
Put a hairclip or pin through each end – through the loops – and use those to clip the ‘hairband’ into the hair.
Click on the image below for more on Frida Kahlo and other inspirational women in history
- Davies, L. 2010, March 2, Frida Kahlo and Flowers, http://www.anothermag.com/fashion-beauty/1812/frida-kahlo-and-flowers ↩