If you need a cross for your family's icon corner, den or bedrooms, here's a fun way to make one!

A Family Cross

Plan some family time together for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon walk in the woods at a local park or another favorite hiking spot. Take a picnic lunch or "trail snacks", and a camera to catch the squirrels, deer, and kids in action.

Take along a pocket knife (adults and Scouts only!), and collect some good, bug-free raw materials for your cross: beech saplings and grapevines work nicely. Rinse everything well when you get home and allow it to dry overnight.

You'll need three twig or vine sections that are 8-12 inches long, three that are 4-6 inches long, and six that are 2-3 inches long, plus several feet of something stringy to bind your cross together: raffia, jute, grape-vine "bark", long strands of tough grass, or colored cotton cord (used to make "friend-ship bracelets") all work well.

Lay your cross out on the kitchen table and mark lightly with a pencil where you want each "bar" to be; intertwine the three twigs of vine sections that make up each "bar" (SEE SKETCH).

With your raffia or cord, bind together the ends of each "bar": wrap the cord snugly around the twigs or vines several times and tie off neatly (SEE SKETCH).

Make final adjustments to the position of your "bars", then bind each joint: wrap the cord several times from lower right to upper left, then from lower left to upper right (a cris-cross pattern). Wrap additional cord around the "bar" adjacent to each joint for a finished look, and add a wire or cord loop to the back as a hanger.

When your cross is completely dry, you may want to spray it with a bit of polyurethane to set the cord and seal the twigs or grapevines. (Don't hang the cross on the wall until you're sure it's dry and won't leave a mark.)

The very creative may even try braiding a Greek-style cross of their own design using grape-vines (SEE SKETCH), or using pine cones and a wire frame, available from craft stores, to construct a "winter" cross.

Take your home-made cross with you to Liturgy for the Elevation of the Cross on September 14/27 for blessing, and show your friends what you made together.

by Nichola Toda Krause

© 1998 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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