Growing up in Brooklyn, Elizabeth Tung learned to thread a needle and sew her own clothes from her mother.
Tung used these same sewing skills in the delicate embroidery of gold metallic thread on the paper star that won this year’s Washington Post Holiday Crafts Contest. The ornament, made of heavy, textured paper known as cold-pressed paper, was punched with pin holes and the gold thread carefully woven through. The precision and craftsmanship of the piece was what impressed judges about Tung’s entry.
“Yes, I’m a perfectionist,” admits Tung, 52, a crafts devotee who teaches crafting to teens and seniors. Her diligence and attention to detail made her work stand out.
“Threading a needle seems to be almost a lost art now,” she says. Tung, who lives in North Potomac, got the idea for the paper star from projects she’d done years ago with fourth- and fifth-graders at her church’s Kids Club. A few months ago, she was inspired to create a star pattern and used a paper piercer to create a design that she stitched with shimmery thread.
Paper has always been one of Tung’s favorite crafting materials, and she has mastered origami, papier-mache, decoupage and Scherenschnitte, which is German paper-cutting.
“Paper is reasonably priced, everyone has it and you can recycle it,” says Tung.
Tung made a list of crafts she’s tried over the years, and it came to 21 categories, from candlemaking to stained glass to quilting.
Crafts are a big part of her life. She taught her three children, now all in their 20s, the art’s basics, things such as painting, baking (including dough craft) and, of course, sewing. Tung works part-time at an assisted living facility helping patients with dementia do simple crafts such as painting and baking. At the Chinese Bible Church of Maryland, where her husband is the English-language pastor, she volunteers teaching beading and fabric painting to youth groups and knitting hats with teens that are then distributed to the homeless.
When Tung gets home from work in the early afternoon, she looks for the sunniest window in her house to work on one of her current projects. “I love making things because it’s very relaxing and also very challenging,” Tung says.
Her tip for crafters? “Keep it simple. Don’t feel that you have to do something elaborate. This took only two hours, but I was able to do a really careful job on it,” Tung says.
One of her favorite pastimes is making greeting cards embellished with beads, threading or calligraphy. She estimates she creates about 25 a year. Some take up to six hours to complete. “I hate to mail them. Most I deliver in person,” Tung says.
Otherwise, of course, she makes her own envelopes.
2011 Holiday Guide Get last-minute advice on gift-giving, entertaining and activities at washingtonpost.com/holiday .