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Forest Products and the Holidays
of you celebrated National Forest Products Week from
October 20-26th this year. Begun in 1960, this week-long
holiday, held the third week in October, celebrates
the many and varied products that come from our forests.
As we enter the busy holiday season, let's
look at the history and traditions associated with the
forest products we use this time of year.
Christmas trees, with
their decorations and star on top, began as a German
tradition, Tannenbaum, as early as 700 AD.
The first written reference to Christmas trees dates
from 1531when a candle-lit tree amazed the people of
Strasbourg. By the 1800s the traditional Christmas tree
was widespread throughout Europe, and then slowly spread
to England and then America through German immigrants
to Pennsylvania. Early Christmas trees were decorated
with fruits, nuts, lighted candles, paper roses, and
then later with tinsel, ornaments, candy canes, and
the star representing the star of Bethlehem. Other greenery,
such as evergreen garlands and wreaths, are used to
provide color during the sometimes-dreary midwinter
Each year, nearly 40 million American
families purchase Christmas trees. About 81.6 percent
of these trees will be farm-grown. The Christmas tree
industry employs over 100,000 people who work on the
more than 1 million acres of land planted with Christmas
trees. Over 73 million new Christmas trees will be planted
this year. Artificial trees have been available to consumers
since 1900. As the University of Illinois Extension
Service points out, artificial trees “will last
about six years in the home, but last centuries in a
is another forest product widely used during the holidays.
Christmas cards started in London in
1843 and then came to America in 1846. In 1843, Sir
Henry Cole, the first director of London’s Victoria
and Albert Museum, was too busy to write personal Christmas
greetings to his friends, so he commissioned painter
John Calcott Horsley to design a card. That year, 1,000
of Horsley’s Christmas cards were printed and
sold in London’s stores. Today only about a dozen
of them are known to still exist.
Each year, about 2 billion Christmas cards
and about 18 billion letters and packages are exchanged
in the United States, resulting in the hiring of nearly
40,000 temporary workers to handle the additional workload.
first Christmas stamp in the world
was the 1898 Canadian two-cent stamp with the Mercator
map and also the words “XMAS 1898”. It was
not until 1962 that the United States issued its first
Christmas gift wrap came about almost by accident. In
1917, the founder of Hallmark, Joyce C. Hall, sold out
of the colored gift wrap used for holiday packages.
He hastily substituted some printed envelope lining
papers from France and sold them for 10 cents a sheet.
These envelope lining papers were so popular that the
decorative gift wrap business was created, and became
the first Hallmark product other than greeting cards.
Here are a few more products
from our forests that we use during the holiday
- boxes, packages, and gift tags
- logs for the fireplace
- in France, Holland and other European
countries, children put out their wooden shoes on
Christmas Eve for Santa (or le Père de Noël,
St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas) to fill with gifts
- switches and lumps of coal for naughty
children! (Remember that even coal started out as
leaves, trees, and other plant matter.)
- can you think of others?
For more information on the history of
paper, all the way back to China in 105 AD, be sure
to visit our Paper
U History of Paper page and check the website of
Museum of Papermaking.
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Quilling is the art of rolling very thin
strips of paper into different scroll shapes, creating
artistic designs with the various shapes, which are
then glued onto a backing. Quilling is also known as
paper filigree or paper scroll work.
Italian nuns first produced quillwork
in the 1600s by rolling strips of paper into curlicue
shapes around a large feather quill (hence the term
quilling). Then quilling moved to France, and
later to England. It came to America before the American
Revolution. During the Renaissance, it was a craft practiced
by rich ladies at a time when paper itself was a scarce
luxury. Today, museums prize quilled boxes and other
richly decorated items from that era.
Quilling is an inexpensive hobby, requires
no special tools, is suitable for any age group, and
can be as simple or complex as you wish. Send your own
very special quilled greeting cards this holiday season!
Here's how to start quilling:
strips of quilling paper, purchased at hobby and craft
stores, or you can make your own by cutting 1/8-inch
strips of paper into 8-inch lengths
- specially designed quilling tool, available
from craft stores, or you may use household objects,
such as toothpicks, pins, paintbrush, or knitting
- white glue
- a ruler to help you produce uniform
- a work board, such as a piece of corrugated
board covered with wax paper or plastic wrap
Assemble all your supplies and your work
surface. Wrap an entire strip of paper around the toothpick
(or other tool). Remove the toothpick, and paste the
end of the strip to the curled circle to hold it in
place. For variety, you can use varying colors and widths
of paper strips. Use your creativity to make different
designs from the basic circle shapes by pinching, pushing,
folding and rolling them into oval, teardrop, heart,
and leaf shapes. Then glue your quilled shapes onto
paper to create your picture.
Here are some of the basic quilling shapes:
basic tight circle - remove toothpick and glue end
basic loose circle - remove toothpick, loosen roll,
and glue end
teardrop - pinch one side of the roll, then glue
heart - fold the strip of paper in half and roll
the ends toward the crease
leaf or marquise - pinch on opposite sides of the
roll, then glue
scrolls [V scroll, S scroll, and C scroll] - roll
the ends of the strips from one or both ends, facing
in or out
Filigree or Quilling
Art of Quilling
Information - Techniques, Designs and Ideas
Papercrafts Around the World, by Phyllis and Noel Fiarotta,
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York
to know even more about the history of paper?
Then visit the Robert
C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking, either
online or in Atlanta adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus.
As part of the Institute of Paper Science and Technology
(IPST), this museum is an internationally renowned resource
on the history of paper and paper technology. The collection
features more than 2,000 books, over 10,000 watermarks,
papers, tools, machines and manuscripts, all related
to the history of paper and papermaking.
Museum of Papermaking offers its visitors guided
tours of the museum, a series of hands-on workshops
and lectures on papermaking, and changing exhibits showcasing
prominent artists in the field. The virtual
tour of the museum covers the history of paper from
its invention in China in 105 AD to the modern era.
At the end of your tour, be sure to stop in the museum's
gift shop for paper gifts, handmade cards and ornaments,
paper jewelry, plus books and other items of interest
to the hand papermaker.
OF THE MONTH
Question: Hello! I am writing a novel and in
order to know what time period to set it in, I am trying
to find out when tissue paper began to be commonly used
in the United States. I am especially interested in
tissue paper used as gift-wrap. If this is too much
to ask, could you please just tell me when gift-wrap
was invented or came into general use? If you can give
me this information or direct me to any other resources,
I would very much appreciate it.
Answer: Printed Christmas
gift-wrap came about almost by accident. In 1917, the
founder of Hallmark, Joyce C. Hall, sold out of the
red, white, and green tissue and holly pattern gift-wrap
used for holiday packages. He hastily substituted some
printed envelope lining papers from France and sold
them for 10 cents a sheet. These envelope-lining papers
were so popular that the decorative gift-wrap business
was born, and became the first Hallmark product other
than greeting cards.
White and colored tissue was first put
on rolls for re-sale by the Crystal company in 1921,
according to www.crystalcreative.com.
It was sold in variety chain stores such as the S. S.
Below are some additional key dates to
help you determine the setting for your novel:
- 1850 paper bags made for the first
time [by hand]
- 1871 toilet paper available in roll
form for the first time
- 1895 paper napkins available
- 1907 paper towels first marketed
- 1910 bread and fruit were wrapped in
- 1913 Scott® Brand toilet paper
- 1924 Kleenex® tissues introduced
Here are a few web sites on this subject:
Oranges in Tissue Paper [1890 painting]: http://www.kidsart.com/IS/411.html
Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking: http://www.ipst.edu/amp
Based on the above information, it should
be safe to set your novel in the early 1900s or later.
We hope that this information is useful to you, and
we wish you the best of luck with your project
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