Monday, October 31, 2016

Dance Team Competition Centerpiece

As promised, here's post two for today! This one is for a much more complex project, and while I know you won't be replicating it exactly I want to be specific about my process.  

So for a little background, as team mom I had been using the same centerpiece for the past three years for when the team would travel to their roughly 7 competitions a year.  As you can see in the picture, it was easy to assemble and transport. Basically, it was a sign I made on the computer, glittered and laminated.  Then I used a table number holder to prop it up inside a blue bucket (from Dollar Tree) and surround it with fan poms, bows and glittered bells.  As the years went on, I added to it with glittered "LHS" letters and some battery-operated lights (not pictured).  

But this year, I was in the mood for something new and more professional looking.  I searched the web for all kinds of different signs, banners, and sign stands but nothing was matching what I was picturing in my head, and many were very expensive.  So, I took a trip to Home Depot and bought some 1/4" MDF sheets for around $3.75 each and got to work.  Here's the breakdown of my process in pictures, and be sure to comment with any questions you might have if you are feeling brave enough to tackle a big project like this.  This is definitely for the more advanced crafter simply because of the use of the Cricut to create the pattern, a jig saw, and a miter box.  Of course, you may want to enlist the help of a woodworker in your family to make the cuts just to be safe.

Step One: I created a pattern on the Cricut in four pieces then reassembled the image with tape. (There's a great
YouTube tutorial on making large images that you should watch for this technique!)  Be sure
to arrange your letters individually so that there are plenty of contact points with the outer circle
for added stability.  The circle is roughly 24" in diameter.

Step Two:  Trace around your template with a pencil.  I used some weights to hold it in place while tracing.

Step Three:  Put on your safety glasses!  To begin the cutting process, you must first drill pilot holes large enough in diameter to slide the jig saw blade into.  Drill into each section that will be cut away.

Step Four:  Begin cutting away the smallest portions of the design first to keep the project as stable as possible.  The
jig saw blade is the thinnest I could find and was intended for laminate, making it possible to make the turns.  Work
slowly, and stop the saw and reposition often to get the correct shapes.

Step Five:  Continue cutting the sections out, making sure to leave the attachment points to the outer circle in place.

Step Five:  Cuts are complete, and lightly sand any rough edges.  Be very careful not to push
too hard while doing this because MDF can snap!  You can see I used an old crate as my work space
because the cut pieces could just fall through.  Just be careful to be on a very sturdy base.

Be prepared for a dusty mess to clean up!  A dust mask isn't bad idea in addition to the safety glasses!

Step Six:  Begin painting.  I didn't prime my project because the MDF is so nice and smooth, but you may
want to.  I simply used acrylic craft paint in school colors and a foam brush (small art brushes come
in handy for the tight corners!) Paint one side at a time, and allow ample drying time before flipping.
Tip:  I used inverted small paper cups to hold the project up.

Step Seven:  After allowing the first color to dry, I painted the second color around the edge.  You might
be able to tell I wasn't too concerned with imperfections because it's not going to show once I
glitter the whole sign.

Step Eight:  Glitter!  Brushing the interior and exterior edges in sections with ModPodge, I then
rolled it through the glitter on some scrap paper.  For the interior edge, you just sort of pour it over
the glue and tap off the excess.  The glitter that drops can just be funneled back into it's container.

Step Nine:  Glittering the interior letters.  Same process as above...just brush on ModPodge in sections,
pour glitter, shake off excess and move to the next section.

Step Ten:  After drying, coat the glittered areas with another layer of ModPodge to be sure it adheres.  This does
reduce the sparkle just a little, but you don't want it all falling off so you have to do it!  Once dry, flip the sign
over and repeat the process.

Completed Sign..Glitter Everywhere!  Just a little side note, I couldn't find navy glitter so I just
mixed royal blue and black glitter.  It worked like a charm!

Step 11:  Building the box base.  Two more sheets of 1/4" MDF, cut to the size I wanted by the Home Depot
guy on their panel saw to save me time.  The box dimensions are 14" wide x 10" high x 6" deep.  I glued the
box together with wood glue.  Once dry, I nailed some small nails into the corners.  The trim pieces are just
paint stir sticks!  They are a fraction of the cost of buying linear feet of trim, and 11 long sticks where just the right amount.
The curved molding at the base of the box was attached first, and was something I had in the barn.  But, I know
they've got lots of similar trim at the store.  I cut it to size using a miter saw and miter box.

Step 12:  My brother's a carpenter, so I had him use his pinner gun to give extra security to the joints
of the box even though the glue is really strong.

Step 13:  I painted the box in coordinating colors to the circular sign, and of course, added glitter in the same
method described above. I left the center of the panels un-glittered so that the light blue letters would stand out more.
 The "Liberty" varsity style letters and Liberty Bells of the ends were cut on the Cricut from heavy glittered
card stock and glued with very strong craft glue (E6000).  The circular sign is held up inside by a two scrap
pieces of MDF with slits cut in the middle for the sign arm to slide through.  There are spacers attached
to those to spread the support up the arm.  A side note, the sign's arm was lengthened by sandwiching longer
pieces of MDF to each side of the original arm (along with an extension piece, making it three layers thick for stability).  The interior of the box and all the supports were painted dark navy.  I then found
two battery operated LED light bars at the hardware store to cast light up on to the sign.  Lastly,
I added a glittery tulle bow to finish it off, since I didn't want to block the light with anything solid.

After all that...I had some extra curved pieces of MDF left over, so I painted them in navy and glittered the edges in gold.  I attached some velcro to the base, and to the old gold glitter letters I had, and now I can use them on additional tables when necessary.  It all ties together nicely, I think.  I hope this post has inspired you to create a team sign for your favorite team.  Just be sure to be safe while using power tools... and let your team spirit shine!

Team Pumpkin Patch Trip Favors

Happy Monday! I've got a few posts to share today, the first being a super simple favor I made on the Cricut for my daughters' trip to the pumpkin patch with their dance team.  A Liberty Bell silhouette, simple wording and a caramel apple sucker is all you need. Oh, and a hot glue gun to affix the label to the sucker.  Here's the pics for inspiration!  And, stay tuned for a big project I've been working on...