01 January 2012

Firecrackers, Paper Lanterns, Balloons and a Last Minute Dragon Head

I was recently released as a counselor in my stake's Young Women program but I had been involved in the planning of the Youth New Years Eve Dance and had a lot of the decorations already made so, yay!, they let me continue helping. Normally I'd just post about this on the family blog, but since I made so many of the decorations, I thought I'd give a run down of some of the step-by-steps, or at least link to the instructions.

We wanted something elegant and pretty, and even though it isn't the Chinese New Year yet, we went with a "Year of the Dragon" theme.

I started out making decorations, with the plan that we were going to be adding larger paper lanterns that we would be buying to add to the ones I made. It was pretty time consuming but I really enjoyed it. 

First off were the firecrackers. Yes, they are supposed to be red, but my red paper was uncooperative and since I like to try to do things without spending money, I used some gold wrapping paper I already had, cut out 3 inch squares, stamped and embossed a dragon design and then just wrapped them up into a tube and hung them with sewing thread.

Next I made some hanging dragons, modifying a pattern I found here. I enlarged it to fit a full sheet of red card stock, printed it out in a light gray color to not waste ink AND so it wouldn't show through, and then painted over the printed pattern with a metallic gold paint (DecoArt Dazzling Metallics Splendid Gold.)

I sewed the body using this method, and then added gold glitter to both sides.

I LOVE how those dragons turned out, BUT they were pretty time consuming painting the gold on every one of them. And they're pretty small since you print them on regular 8.5 x 11 paper.

Moving on...this next decoration was so easy. I found a dragon pattern I liked on Google, cleaned it up a little bit in a photo editing program, and then printed it on red card stock paper (sorry the lighting in this picture makes it look pink). I set my margins really small with the design filling the entire space, and then after I printed them, cut the paper down to 8 x 11.

Then I took two pages, sliced them into sixteen 1 x 11 inch segments with my big, old school paper cutter, and keeping them in order, punched holes in the top and bottom. Add a brad on both ends, add a hanger on the top with thread and a Christmas ornament hook, and if you want, add a tassel or something else on the bottom and...TA-DA! Super easy, super cheap paper lanterns that fold flat for storage. Just fan the paper out into a globe shape and hang. Use a sturdy paper for this one or it won't hold the round shape. (You can also make a smaller "lantern" by using 1 sheet of paper, printed in landscape, or stamped with a design and sliced into eleven 1 x 8.5 inch sections.)

View from the bottom so you can see the paper strips fanned out.

Next I made tissue paper lanterns following these instructions. They were great instructions, but if I ever make them again, I will make some kind of form to hold the sections in, instead of using clay to support them so that it will go faster and be more uniform. One tip: it says to run glue along the sides of the craft sticks and that's fine but this way is faster and less tedious ... before I pushed them into the clay, I rubbed three sides into a puddle of tacky glue that I had spread out on a section of foil, taped down to the counter. (Sorry, you'll have to read the instructions to understand what I'm talking about.) I used the larger craft sticks, mostly because that is what I had on hand. I also didn't put the two sticks in the bottom for a tea lamp because I just hung it from the top hanging bar with some wire. They turned out really nice. I could have gotten more creative and painted something on the tissue paper or stamped it, but by this point I think I was getting a bit lazy. And I don't remember the instructions saying to do this, but I crumpled the tissue paper and then smoothed it back out before I glued it on.

I don't know if this next thing is something most people would tackle, but it really is quite easy and really inexpensive if you mess up and have to throw it away. I bought a two-pack of red tablecloths, 54" x 108" for about a dollar. I took one of them and sliced it in half lengthwise and then taped the two half sections together. Then I just found a font online that I liked and used it as an example to paint a New Year sign. Once I reached the end of what I was saying, I just cut off the excess....then it didn't matter if I misjudged the font size. :)

On to the dance decorating.....

Someone in the stake loaned us their balloon drop. I hadn't seen it before and when we got there and got it full of balloons, it looked JUST like a dragon's body, scales and all! What to do?....because now we needed a dragon's head!!! We strung Christmas lights and hung all the decorations on the lights, including about 18 large red paper lanterns. (I'm sorry, I don't know the exact size.) We reserved some of the lanterns for over the snack tables and added flickering battery operated tea lights strung with wire. (My Ryan has always been so helpful with the dance decorations!)

Of course that balloon drop looking like a dragon couldn't go to waste so I went home and painted up a quick dragon head, similar to the pattern above, out of paper and paint and wires. I made the dragon's goatee out of cut strips of paper streamers. Once it was all done, I thought it was SOOOOO worth it and it looks like we planned it that way all along!

Of course Ryan and Riley had to test out the Wii to see if it was fully operational! :)

Guess it was a good thing it wasn't part of my calling to stay and help chaperone anymore because I ended up going home and passing out before 10pm.

Hope you had a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!

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