Tiny Umbrellas

Make these totally functioning cocktail umbrellas from scratch.


I recently recalled this video that was very famous some years ago, and I enjoyed it as much as the first time.

There are many reasons why slow lorises shouldn’t be kept as pets, but you can have as many umbrellas as you want! I bought some at a craft store –well, the closest thing to a craft store you can find here- but they were sooooo ugly! 😦 That was not what I wanted. I expected something… fancier. Where’s the Asian allure they are supposed to have?


So, after this deceiving encounter with reality, I decided I had to make my own umbrellas.


After surfing the web for a while, I couldn’t find any good tutorial on this. Yeah, of course, there is the easy silly version of “make-a-circle-glue-a-toothpick-and-that’s-all”, but I didn’t want that. So, I decided to tear apart one of the ugly umbrellas, figure out how the mechanism worked and make my own from scratch.

You’ll need:

– Tissue paper
– Wooden skewer (or a big toothpick)
– Glue (school glue or PVA works fine)
– A piece of cardboard / poster board
– A piece of newspaper
– Pencil, ruler, scissors and cutter
– Acrylic paint (optional)

1. Start by drawing in your cardboard 2 figures like these:

umbrellas ribs measures

In the longer piece, measure the ribs and mark a line a little bit above the middle. This marks where the ribs will be folded to close the umbrella. It doesn’t have to be an exact measure, anywhere a little above the middle will work.

2. Cut the pieces out very carefully.


3. Cut two stripes of newspaper, one of them being 10mm wide and the other being just 5mm wide. The newspaper will serve as filling between the skewer and the cardboard structure.

4. Fix the 5mm newspaper stripe with a bit of glue on top of the skewer and start rolling it around very tight until you reach a perimeter of about 16mm (same width of the cardboard piece we’ve just cut).


5. Glue the top part of the shorter cardboard piece on top of the newspaper roll. Let it dry.



6. Roll the 10mm stripe of newspaper around the skewer BUT, very important, this time don’t glue it at the beginning, because we need it to be able to move, so it can’t be fixed.


7. Glue the remaining cardboard piece around this second roll as in the picture.


8. Fold the ribs along the marks you’ve drawn earlier. Bring the two pieces together and glue them as in the picture. You can secure each rib with a little piece of cello tape. This will also give the ribs some extra thickness. Ta da! The difficult part is done!


9. Take your tissue paper and draw a circle with a radius of 45mm. Decorate it with acrylic pain, felt pens, nail polish, glitter, etc.


10. Once it’s dry, fold it 3 times to mark 8 radius. Cut the tip. Unfold.

BBNN_umbrella_paper3 BBNN_umbrella_paper4

11. Slip the paper very carefully through the tip of the umbrella and glue each rib to one of the 8 fold marks. Let it dry.


12. Start closing the umbrella very carefully. Once it’s totally closed, squeeze it between your fingers. It’ll feel like you are breaking it, but don’t panic.


13. Now, open you umbrella and watch the magic happen! Here it is your personal totally handmade cocktail umbrella!



14. You can give it a more professional look by covering the top with a bit of paper, fabric, or a little ball of jumping clay.

Now you can have your drink, dessert, ice cream, whatever… in style! 🙂



In case you want to know more about tiny cocktail umbrellas, here it is this article on Bon Appetit about its history and facts.

And if you still feel like reading after all that, you shouldn’t miss this humorous review by Eric Johnson: A long-overdue tribute to the cocktail umbrella.






8 thoughts on “Tiny Umbrellas

  1. Pingback: Glue and dye tote bag | Bubanana

  2. Thank you! I, too, was trying to find a tutorial and was going to end up having to figure it out myself by looking at pictures. Glad I kept looking for pictures and found this!

      • definitely time and patience! I have a suggestion though… might want to say glue the newspaper strips as you go along. Because 1. sometimes they unwind while you’re trying to wind but 2. most important, I did something that caused me to push the top down too firmly and my umbrella slip down at the top (telescope effect) that was very difficult to get it back on. Nothing like being almost done with your project and all hell breaks loose. LOL (p.s. I found it easier to mark 1/8 ribs than 2 cm. Just that tad bigger made a difference but I’m assuming you live somewhere where they use metric. LOL)

  3. Hi Tam! Lots of thanks for your thoughts. Anything that improves the tuts is welcome 🙂 I’ll try to make the ribs wider if I make more of these. Love.

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