Finally, I’ve written up the instructions for making a maypole. I made this one specially for SOL’s Beltane celebrations in November 2006 and it’s been used every year since then. 🙂
Garden Maypole (12 person 2.4 m)
This maypole is made using a cast iron garden umbrella base, with one 0.5 metre section of 50mm diameter plastic pipe inserted to act as a sleeve in which to insert the main pole. (Depending on the size of the umbrella base and the diameter of the main pole used, this sleeve may not be necessary.)
A further 2 sections of 45mm diameter plastic pipe are used to make the main pole – one cut to 1 metre long which is inserted into the plastic sleeve in the umbrella base and a plastic joiner glued to the other end of the pipe; the second cut to 1.4m long, which is inserted into the pipe joiner. To give more stability a 1.5 metre length of 25mm diameter galvanised pipe is inserted into the centre of the pole, overlapping the joint between the two sections.
Because of the difference in diameter of the galvanised pipe and the plastic pipe, timber bushes were made on a lathe to keep it all fitting together snugly.
However, a wooden dowel of an appropriate diameter could be used instead of the galvanised pipe, or if a smaller diameter dowel is used, such as a standard broom handle, instead of using a lathe to make bushes of the right size one or both ends of the dowel could be wrapped in paper and/or sticky tape to create a tighter fit. The metal pipe was used in this case simply because it was available for free.
The dowel or pipe running up the inside of the main pole should not come right to the top – a section of empty pipe at the top needs to be left for the crown to fit into. In this case the crown was made using an upturned wire toilet roll holder. This made it easy to simply tie the ribbons on, then wind white electrical tape around the wire frame to keep the ribbons evenly spaced stop them from sliding.
The base and the crown can be decorated with flowers – in this case artificial flowers were used for convenience.
The length of the ribbons needs to be at least 1.5 times the length of the pole or as much as 2 times the pole length (according to some sources). So for a 2.4 m high pole each ribbon would need to be a minimum length of 3.6m or max length of 4.8m. In this case they are all 4m each as that was the length of “bargain priced” ribbon readily available from shops. More expensive ribbon can be bought by the roll and cut to length accordingly.
All up this makes a fairly lightweight pole with a certain amount of flexiblilty at the top which reduces the tendency to be pulled over. And because the main pole has been made in two sections instead of one length of 2.4 metres, it can be easily dismantled for transport in a small car.
After the maypole dancing is finished the ribbons might be interwoven something like this…