The British flag, properly referred to as the Union Flag, is popularly known by its nickname of the Union Jack. It consists of a dark blue background with a diagonal and straight crosses in red and white. Its distinctive and colorful appearance make it easy to to reproduce, and using paper you can make miniature versions for label badges, larger flags to wave or big versions as banners or even tablecloths.
History of the Flag
The Union flag is so-called because it is composed of the flags of three of the countries of Great Britain in union. The national flag incorporates the Scottish, Northern Irish and English flags. The Scottish flag, the St. Andrew's Cross, is a white diagonal cross on a dark blue background. The Northern Irish flag, or St. Patrick's Cross, consists of a red diagonal cross on a white background, and the English flag, the St. George's cross, is composed of a straight red cross on a white background. The fourth British country, Wales, is not represented in the national flag as Wales had been united to England before the other countries. The influence of the Union Flag is still seen in former British colonies such as Australia.
Before starting to make your flag, study a photograph of the Union Jack and note the dimensions. The flag is twice as long as it is high. The spacing of the crosses is uneven, with the diagonal red cross of Ireland sitting crookedly on the white cross of its background. For accuracy, the left-hand arms of the red cross should be have a narrow white border at the top and a wider border at the bottom, and the arms on the right should be the reverse. The corners of each cross should meet the edges of the flag with no outer border.
Making a Paper Flag
When drawing or making a Union Flag with paper, remember how the flag is composed. Building up the flag in layers of colored paper gives an attractive three-dimensional look that is more robust. Start with a rectangle of dark blue paper that is twice as long as it is high. Cut out a diagonal cross from white paper and glue it to the background. You can make this up from two strips of paper as the intersection will be covered. Next, add a cross cut from red paper. This should be thinner than the white cross, and is positioned unevenly. Add a wide straight cross of white paper, and finish off with a narrower cross of red paper, gluing each layer firmly into place.
Drawing a Flag
While making flags from layers of paper gives an attractive result, it is not practical for very small flags or flags that are to be waved. It is also not ideal for flag tablecloths as the layers of glue result in an uneven surface that could cause glasses to be unstable. These types of flag should have the design drawn onto them with crayon or paint. Stiffen your paper flag with cardboard if necessary, or wrap and tape it onto a piece of doweling to make a handle for waving. Tiny flags for labeling food can be made in the same way by attaching to a toothpick.
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