Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy Fall! Banner

This year, two of my fall-loving daughters are living in lands of eternal summer. So, in order to help them stay connected to autumn, I decided to make them each an itty bitty fall garland.

Using my tried-and-true banner methodology, I gathered up tiny strips of papers, watercolors, a length of black string and a Sharpie to make the magic happen. 

I cut bits of medium weight drawing paper to 1 x 3 inch strips. I gave each one a gentle fold down the middle, and snipped out a tiny triangle to create the pointed ends. I always make a few more strips than I theoretically need because, people, accidents happen.

Haphazard dabs of watercolors in bright reds and pinks are totally my style, though I seriously considered going with a more autumnal palette of orange, rust, and brown. I also thought about painting each paper a slightly different shade, and then arranging them in an ombre effect. Hmm. Maybe next time.

Little known fact: freshly painted papers can be dried at top speed by warming them in the microwave. Several bursts of 40- to 60-second intervals work well for the impatient artist. Ask me how I know.

At the non-pointy end of the strips, I folded back about one centimeter of the paper, for gluing purposes. Making all the folds at once helps me keep the size of the folds fairly uniform; otherwise, it's easy to drift off target. Again, ask me how I know.

Write the letters of the message out, one per strip. Oh, it sounds so easy, doesn't it? But this is the crucial make-it-or-break-it stage of the project, so here are a few tips.
  • Make sure your Sharpie is full of fresh ink, so you will get a rich, lush line instead of a scruffy blur.
  • Decide on the style of letter you'll create, and consider practicing your font on a scratch paper before you start.
  • Take care to place each letter in the same position on the strip of paper. A little variation is charming, but a reasonable level of uniformity is not all bad.
  • Remember how we cut some extra strips of paper, in case of mistakes? Yeah. Don't be afraid to call for back-up.

Over-estimate the length of the string you'll need.  You can always trim it off if it's too long, but all the world hates a string too short. Arrange the strips to correctly spell out the message, then use a bit of tacky glue to smack them in place, one at a time. Start with the letters in the middle of your message, and position them in the middle of the string. 

Keep working from the center of the message to the end, and then go back to the center and work towards the beginning. From time to time, check the front side of your emerging banner to be sure the strips are in the proper order. Those little devils can play tricks on even the most alert banner-makers.

Then, spread the little darling out and admire.

Once the glue dried, I took mine out for a little adventure in the front yard. He will soon be traveling off to a land that autumn forgot, so I wanted him to soak up as much Pacific Northwest September goodness as possible. Along with this little banner, our crisp, cool sunshine and gently yellowing foliage send a cheery message: "Happy fall!"

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