Snowflakes in Panama
(The Panama Canal Review
... Dec. 2, 1960)

Christmas in the Isthmus, temperature-wise, may appear to have much in common with July in other climes, but this year there are going to be snowflakes round about, here and there, decorating tables and floating through the air.

Jack Frost, in northern climes, is credited with crafting the snowflake designs but, in the Canal Zone, members of the Arts and Crafts Group of the Balboa Woman's Club have been making their own snowflakes the past few weeks. And the snowflakes the women make are bigger and more colorful than any Senor Frost ever produced, and far more lasting, considering the temperatures on the Isthmus in the jolly Yule season.

Snowflake creation requires patience and ingenuity. A lot of the former, and a good share of the latter. Plus toothpicks. The toothpicks are put together in any shape the snowflake-creator wishes. Jack Frost's recipe being unavailable, the Arts and Crafts group started the snowflake project by placing toothpicks in the shape of a triangle, held together with applications of airplane glue. Triangle was built upon triangle, and expanded triangle-wise for height and breadth. Then a lacy-looking weed was gathered and was wound round and round the toothpick structure, with a spot of glue here and there to hold it in place. The whole was sprayed with Christmas tree "snow;" hung with Christmas ornaments and holly, and the result was a snowflake Jack Frost himself would be proud to claim as his own creation.

The "snowflakes" are effective as table centerpieces, or when hung upon a Christmas tree, or as indoor and outdoor decorations. While the "snowflakes" are decorative conversation pieces, the Arts and Crafts Group of the Balboa Woman's Club has not concentrated entirely on snowflake production for Christmas holiday decorations.

Stencil work has been used by some of the members on tablecloths and other gift items. A plain white tablecloth takes on a light-hearted holiday look with a stencilled design of poinsettias applied by nimble fingers, and the most prosaic bit of material, given the stencil treatment, goes through a transformation that would leave even Cinderella more than slightly astounded.

Take candle holders, for instance; delicate flower-adorned holders that look as if they might be closely related to those produced in fine china. The basic materials are easy to find and assemble. First, the would-be maker of a candle holder needs a narrow cylinder of carboard, which is cut to the required size. The roll is covered and then comes the decorating, or fun part. Some of the members used a floral decorative arrangement. For this effect, small silk flowers, the kind that come in colorful little bunches, are carefully dipped in wax, one by one, and then are arranged on the holders to create a ceramic effect.

Or, should a more Christmasy effect be desired, Christmas ornaments are substituted for the flowers. Santa Claus' own workshop could hardly be a busier spot these days before Christmas than the gatherings of the Arts and Crafts Group. And the frozen northland can hardly produce more delicately frosty effects than those in the centerpieces and Yule ornaments made by the members.

Compiled by the CZAngel

December 5, 1999

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