Discover the charms of this traditional Polish papercraft with East London maker Karolina Merska. Get a taster of this course and make a kalinka pompom for just £4.99!
Pajaki (pah-yonk-ee) are traditional chandeliers made from rye straw and paper from Poland. Their history dates back to the mid-18th century.
The craft was being practised less and less, but Karolina Merska is a pajaki maker reviving the tradition.
In this detailed video course, she will teach you the skills and techniques to create a basic two-layered pajaki, with nine traditional Polish kalinka pom-poms.
With UNLIMITED ACCESS 24/7, you’ll be able to drop in and out of the course at your own pace, and refer back to it anytime. By the end of this course, you will be able to:
- How to choose colours and where to find your inspiration
- The basic construction of the pajaki, including preparing the straws, wrapping the hoop and attaching the threads
- Preparing the paper discs and creating the kalinka pom-pom
- How to assemble all the elements to create your very own pajaki chandelier
This course includes Karolina's extensive research into uncovering this lost craft through multiple visits to Poland over many years. Our pricing supports artists and makers in their ongoing artistic endeavours.
Learn more about the ancient craft of pajaki
Suspended from the ceiling, amongst colourful paper cut-outs, paintings and paper flowers, they are a popular decoration in Polish village houses. Made by country women as decorations for their homes for festivities such as Christmas, Easter, Harvest, New Year, weddings, christenings; they are a symbol of happiness.
Originally made from materials available during winter like peas, beans, thread, feathers or yarn. From the late 19th century straw was used and decorated with different varieties of paper flowers and ribbons.
Karolina has travelled extensively in Poland to unearth and understand the history of the pajaki, to meet the makers, hone her techniques and to help regenerate this lost art.
The course also includes a brief history of the pajaki and Karolina's recommended reading list.
Watch the course trailer
VIDEO: Meet Karolina Merska (1:57)
- PDF: Course Outline
- PDF: Recommended Reads
The History of the Pajaki
- VIDEO: History of the Pajaki (1:48)
- PDF: What You'll Need
- VIDEO: What You'll Need (1:08)
Step 2: VIDEO: Preparing the Straws (2:52)
Step 3: VIDEO: Wrapping the Hoop (2:40)
Step 4: VIDEO: Attaching the Threads (3:38)
Step 5: VIDEO: Preparing the Paper Discs (1:30)
Step 6: VIDEO: Assemble the Upper Arms (3:44)
What you will need for this course
Traditionally, the pajaki arms are constructed with rye straws, thread and paper discs. Karolina harvests her rye straws from a farm in Poland and cleans them before cutting them to length. If you do not have access to a local farm, you can work with paper straws, which can be purchased from all good craft shops.
Contact us for advice if you’re unsure of where to find these items or post in our support Facebook Group.
- Rye Straws or Paper Straws, cut to length. You will need 72 short straws (3cm) and 32 long straws (8cm)
- Metal hoop - 30cm in diameter
- Card, recommended 270-300gsm
- Tissue paper (three colours or more)
- Crepe paper
- Ball of Soft Cotton Thread - around 12 meters
- Piece of ribbon - width 5mm, around 25 cm length
- Long, thin needle like an Embroidery Needle
- Circle Paper Puncher -3cm diameter
- Compass (drawing tool)
- Glue Stick
- Bowls (x2 for separating straws)
Is this course suitable for beginners?
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Meet your instructor, Karolina Merska
Karolina Merska moved from Poland to the UK in 2007 after obtaining an MA in History of Art at the Jagiellonian University Krakow. Inspired by Polish folk art, she started making Pająki chandeliers in 2015. Her work has been published and exhibited worldwide, including Channel 4, The World of Interiors, House and Garden, Elle Decoration, The Telegraph, Time Out, Harpers Bazaar, London Design Festival and more.