Wednesday, September 4, 2013

DIY Shark Party Decor: Warning Signs and Land Sharks

Logan's 4th birthday party turned out to be pretty "jawsome" and these homemade decorations helped set the tone right as guests were arriving. I was inspired by these signs that I saw online. So, I set out to make my own, using my cheap, go-to-party-decor material: cardboard. After the past couple of birthday parties -- Care Bears for Mia's 6th and Cars for Logan's 3rd -- I have decided that I can make just about anything out of cardboard! So, these signs and shark fins were not very difficult or time-consuming for me, and I was able to make them almost entirely with items I already had at home. (The only thing I had to purchase was another small bottle of yellow acrylic paint, which I believe was 53 cents at Wal-mart.)

{CAUTION: Shark Sighting!}

Materials for Fins:
  • corrugated cardboard
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • gray primer (or paint)
  • large foam paintbrush
  • Styrofoam tray (to hold paint)
  • cereal box liner (to protect work surface)
  • wooden skewers (2 per fin)

Directions for Making Fins:
  1. Draw a shark fin onto the cardboard and cut it out. (I made three because odd numbers always make sense from a design perspective.)
  2. Lay the cut-out on a flat surface. (Mine was the dining table protected by the cereal box liner.)
  3. Cover the first side with gray primer (Paint would work as well, but Brett pointed out that we had primer already. Score! I didn't need to mix paints or buy any extra. This provided very good coverage, quickly and easily.) Let the primer/paint dry completely before moving the fin.
  4. Now, flip it over and paint the other side. Again, let it dry completely, or you will end up with smudged paint. (Note: I also painted the outside edges of the fin, as best as I could. This is best left until the end of the painting process.)
  5. Insert two skewers into the bottoms of each fin. These will fit directly into the spaces of the corrugated cardboard. Mine were placed about two inches from the outside edges. Tip: I found it tricky to insert the blunt ends into the cardboard, so I first expanded the openings by sticking in the sharp end of each skewer. Then, I removed the skewers, and flipped them around so that the sharp ends were pointed down. 
  6. Stick skewers into the ground to make the sharks "swim" in your lawn. The skewers may end up poking up through the tops of the fins, so push them down and re-adjust as needed until they look the way that you want.

Materials for Warning Signs:

  • corrugated cardboard
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • shark stencil
  • black Sharpie marker
  • yellow acrylic paint
  • large foam paintbrush
  • Styrofoam tray (to hold paint)
  • cereal box liner (to protect work surface)
  • 2 wooden skewers (for yard sign)
  • masking tape (for hanging on door) 

Directions for Making Warning Signs:
  1. Using a ruler for assistance, draw a rectangle shape from a piece of cardboard, to the dimensions that you would like. (Note: I decided on smaller signs than I have made in the past, for Logan's 2nd birthday which had a construction theme. This made things go faster, which was perfect, in my opinion. My "DANGER" sign is just 9" x 9" and my "CAUTION" sign is about 8 1/2" by 10 1/2".) Cut out your sign. Repeat as desired.
  2. Protect work surface (and clothing) and then cover sign/s with yellow acrylic paint. Let dry, and add a second coat.
  3. Using a ruler and a black Sharpie marker, create a black border for each sign. (On the "CAUTION" sign, this is set in about 1/2" and on the "DANGER" sign, it's only about 1/4".) 
  4. Decide on the placement of the shark for each sign. Set the stencil down and then trace around the inside with your black marker. Fill in the entire shark outline. (Note: I used the Great White shark stencil from the set.)
  5. Add your lettering. I chose to hand-letter the signs, but you could also use black letter stickers as a time-saver. I suggest using a ruler and a pencil to lightly block these in. First create a space for each word with a lightly-penciled line to show the tops of the letter and a lightly-penciled line to show the bottoms of the letters. I had three such lines for each sign. Then, find the approximate center of each word or grouping of words, and pencil in that central letter. Work your way out toward each side. Once the lettering looks the way you like (Remember, it doesn't need to be perfect! Mine certainly aren't.), go over it with black Sharpie. You can make corrections as you go. When in doubt, make the letters thicker. Note: The "CAUTION" sign also has some waves that I drew by hand so that the shark appears to be swimming near the top of the water.
  6. Post your warning signs. I used masking tape to hang the "DANGER" sign on the front door. For the "CAUTION" sign, I used two wooden skewers, inserted with the same method as mentioned above for the shark fins. Then, I stuck it into the front yard near the "shark sighting" area with the three visible fins. 

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