Now, I realize that fall is probably not the best time to make paper fans. However, down here in New Orleans it still feels like summer! Besides, all the DIY brides out there can get an early start making fans to hand out during their summer ceremonies! So despite this project being off-season, I'm pretty proud of it; the materials are cheap, and the final result is rather adorable. Unfortunately, since they are made of paper, the finished fans are somewhat delicate. In future experiments, I hope to substitute the paper with fabric to try and make the fan a little more durable.
As I mentioned, the materials needed for this project are very cheap. A package of skinny sticks (I bought mine from Walmart), a 12 x 12 sheet of decorative paper (double sided would be best), craft glue, a pin, sand paper, a hammer, scissors, a bone folder, and a pair of pliers. The first step is to sand the rough edges of seven skinny sticks. Stack them so that the ends meet up. Next, insert a pin about in inch from the end of the sticks. This step is actually the hardest part, because you need to avoid splitting the wood of the slender sticks. My solution to this problem was to use a pin as a nail and hammer it through the skinny sticks. However, I bent a lot of pins using this technique, so a very slender nail or drill bit might work better. Once the pin is inserted through all seven sticks, bend the end to form a loop (my picture actually is from a fan made with 8 sticks).
The next part doesn't have to be exact. Measure a point 5 inches diagonally located from one corner of the 12 x 12 paper. Draw a line 6 inches from that point in either direction. Get as close to the edge of the paper as you can. The angle of the two lines should be 160 degrees or so. Again, it doesn't have to be exact. Cut along the two lines. Next, fold the paper like an accordion in a series of slender triangles with a width of about 1 inch. The apex of each triangle should be close to the point you measured earlier (this also doesn't have to be exact). Use the bone folder to get nice and crisp folds. Make sure that all of the triangles have the same width.
The peak of the final triangle might not meet the point of the other triangles. Cut off this section and the one next to it. You should be left with 14 triangles. Snip off the bottom 3 or so inches closest to the apex. Line up your fanned out paper with the pinned together skinny sticks. The head of the pin should be facing downward (toward the side you want to be the outside of your fan). Each stick should correspond to every other triangle. Visualize how the fan will close and make sure that your arrangement makes sense.
Start glueing the sticks down. About 3-3.5 inches of the stick should overlap with the paper. You can play with this; the more stick overlapping with the paper, the more fanned out the finished fan will be. Continue glueing the sticks down. Make sure and line up each stick with the one below it. Remember, there should be a fold of paper between each stick! Glue down the leftover flap of paper to the final stick.
When the fan is folded up, cut off the top of the fan to form a level surface. Open up the fan, and you're done!
Obviously, you can play with these steps to customize your fan. Attach a string of beads or some other bauble to the bent loop of the pin. Scallop the edges of the fan. Vary the number of sticks or play with the size of the paper. You could even use personalized paper with a photo printed on it. Just let me know how they turn out!