Monday, October 23, 2017

Ribbon Wands - Fairy Wands - Magic Wands - Wedding Send-off

My daughter, Lisa, recently got married to a wonderful young man named Brandon.  We created many of the decorations ourselves.  One of the things we made were ribbon wands.  Because the venue (Twin Silos, Livonia, NY) would not allow us to use any type of open flame, sparklers were out.  Lisa and Brandon wanted something other than confetti (too hard to clean up) or bird seed (imagine that getting down your dress and into your bra), so they decided on  having the guests send them off with ribbon wands.

I went to my trusty Pinterest site to find DIY instructions.  I found lots.  Many said to screw eyelets into the end of each dowel and attach the ribbon to it.  Pfft!  I had 150 of those suckers to do, I wasn't about to screw in 150 eyelets!!

So I experimented.  Duct tape (I would have switched to a pretty Washi tape if it had worked) seemed too fussy, and the reviews that I read of the silver sparkly washi tape said that it wasn't very sticky.  I didn't want to get the ribbon wands all done only to find them falling apart the day before the wedding.  And I couldn't figure out how to add the jingle bells with the tape either.

I finally came up with a method of hot gluing the jingle bells (optional) and ribbon onto the dowel.  Here's my process...

paint - any craft paint will work
Modge Podge
small paint brush (for paint)
small foam paint brush (for glitter)
jingle bells
26 gauge wire
wire cutters
3/8" ribbon (wider or narrower depending on your preference)
sharp scissors
hot glue gun
hot glue sticks - I recommend the low temp sticks
a chunk of styrofoam or something to stick the dowels in while they dry

1) Find some dowels.  I was all set to purchase a bunch (did I mention 150 wands...) of 3/16" or 1/4" dowels and have my husband cut them down to a good length when I happened upon these Wilton dowels for cake decorating at Walmart.

At just $2.81 for a dozen (at the time of this post), I thought the price was right.  I was worried they might be a tad too small, but they worked out great!

2) Find some ribbon.  Lisa and Brandon's wedding colors were silver/gray and plum.  Plum ribbon is not easy to find.  There's purple... there's maroon... there's wine... and then, if you're really lucky, there's plum.  Several months prior to making these wands, I had visited the Ryco Creative Sewing Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island, with my quilt guild.  They had plum everything!  Several different types of ribbon and tulle in just the right color.  Unfortunately, they're several hundred miles away from where I live.  So, I sent off an email to ask if I could order some and they were great in helping me place my order.

3) Find some jingle bells.  I searched Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, Oriental Trading, and anywhere else I could find.  I figured I'd use three bells.  Two bells just looked... well let's just say two bells were suggestive of certain parts of the male anatomy and leave it at that.  One-hundred fifty wands times three jingle bells... 450 bells!  I needed them in bulk.  I finally settled on ordering them from Bedazzlinbeads on Ebay.  Five packages of 100 3/8" (about 10 mm) bells at $5.50 each.  Fast service, nice bells, good quality.  I found 6 duds in 500 bells, but from reviews of other places, that seemed to be much less than the norm.  They made a nice jingly sound too.

Having finally gathering everything together, I started the creation process.

1) paint the dowels - Using a small paintbrush  - I think it came from a children's watercolor set - I painted 2 coats of paint on each dowel, letting it dry between each coat.  If you're not fussy, or if your paint is thicker than mine, one coat will probably work.  I happened to have a couple of large chunks of styrofoam so I was able to stick each painted dowel in that in order for them to dry without laying them down.

2) Add glitter (optional).  I mixed a couple of tablespoons of glitter into about a quarter cup of Modge Podge and added a bit of water to thin it down.  Sorry, I didn't use exact measurements.  The consistency was somewhere between heavy cream and white glue.  Use more or less glitter (or none) depending on your tastes.

Use the small foam brush to paint the glitter/Modge Podge concoction on.  Don't overwork it, or it globs up the glitter.  Try and only brush once.  Stick the dowels back in the styrofoam to dry.

Here's what mine looked like after two coats of paint and the Modge Podge and glitter.  I'm very happy to say that the glitter did not flake or rub off.  I could only imagine the glitter getting all over the guests.  Glad that didn't happen!

3) Prepare the jingle bells
  • Cut a 2" - 3" piece of wire for each wand.

  • Fold the wire in half and thread three jingle bells onto it.

  • Twist the wire closed - 5 or 6 twists.

  • Trim the wire to 1/2" long (so that it can be hidden by the ribbon).

  • Glue the wire to the dowel with hot glue.  I found it easiest to squeeze just a tiny amount of hot glue out of the gun; just enough so there's a tiny blob on the nozzle, and then actually stick the wire into the nozzle to douse it in glue, then hold it onto the dowel until it cooled enough to stick.  Peel off any hot glue blobs and strings while the glue is still warm - it's easier then.

4) cut and glue the ribbons onto the wand
  • Cut the ribbon to twice the length you want (they'll be folded in half).  I used 32" lengths of two different colored ribbons, so that I ended up with four 16" ribbons on each wand.   I tried 12" lengths, but thought they were too short, and 18" lengths seemed too long.  It's really personal preference though.
  • Cut the ends at a 45* angle so they don't ravel.
  • Fold the first ribbon in half and with a loose loop, slip it down over the dowel.  If you're right handed, pinch the dowel/ribbon with your thumb and pointer finger in your left hand.

  • Add a small dab of hot glue all the way around the end of the dowel.  You don't need much.  WARN\ING: Be careful not to get the hot glue directly on the jingle bell wire.  It will heat the wire enough so that the bells will fall off the dowel (ask me how I know). 

This picture happens to show the silver ribbon in two pieces.  I ran out of silver ribbon, and had two shorter pieces left over, so I glued their ends together to make one piece long enough.

  • Sort of slide the ribbon loop down over the hot glue.  It's hard to explain - you don't want to drag the ribbon through the glue, but down and around it.  Pinch the ribbon as close to the dowel as possible until the glue cools enough to hold it.  Peel off blobs and strings of hot glue while it's still warm (not hot). 

  • Add the second ribbon in the same manner - add a dab of glue to the first ribbon - you need even less glue than you did with the first ribbon, slide and pinch the second ribbon around it until cool.


Peel off any hot glue strings or blobs and voila!  You're done!  Only 149 more to go...

Here are two that are all finished.

We placed the ribbon wands in mason jars outside the sanctuary, and handed them out to the guests after the ceremony.  Please, for your sanity, don't hand them out before or they'll be jingling all the way through.

I'm still waiting on the professional photographer's photos, hoping they got some good shots of the wands in the jars (it was really pretty, all those ribbons together), and of the ribbon wand send off.  I'll add them here as soon as I can.

OTHER NOTES: While making these wands wasn't particularly hard once I figured out a system, it was very time consuming.  I was the only person working on them, and to make 150 wands it took me a couple of nights of three hours of work for each coat of paint and glitter, wiring the bells, gluing the bells and ribbon.  So somewhere in the 20 - 25 hour range for all of them.  I would recommend getting a bunch of crafty people together and doing them assembly-line fashion.

I definitely would recommend low temp glue sticks.  Your fingers get awfully close to the hot glue when you're pinching the ribbon.

Try and use as little hot glue as possible.  It makes for a neater, better looking ribbon wand if you don't have blobs of glue all over.

I figure between the dowels, ribbon and jingle bells (I had the other supplies on hand), each wand cost less than $0.75 each.

And there you have it.  Let me know if you've got any questions or suggestions!

Happy crafting!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Pens I Use, and more doodles!

This past Christmas I asked for some brush tip pens in shades of gray so I could experiment with shading.  And if I ever draw a blank (no pun intended) on what to draw, I can always refer back to my Pinterest board.

Because I've zoomed in on pictures trying to figure out what pens use, and haven't had much luck, I thought I'd share the ones that I'm currently using:

These two say they're the same size, but one is definitely thinner than the other.
Inc Magna Tank .05mm black
BIC 737R .05 black

.05 black pens

Pigma Micron 05 and 01 black (2014 Christmas gift!)
Pigma Brush black (great for filling in larger spaces)

Pigma pens

 Faber Castell PITT artist pens (another Christmas gift)
warm grey 272, 273, 274
cold grey 232, 233, 235

Faber Castell brush tip pens in several shades of gray

After fumbling around, trying to figure out which pen was which, I finally "labeled" them.  One stripe is light, two is medium, and three is dark.  The yellow is warm grey, and the pink is cool grey.  And I labeled the black brush tip with really wide black tape.  Now I can grab the one I want with no problem!

And now for a few doodles!

I call this one "Squares and Pipes."  I had seen a few tangles (short for zentangles in case you didn't know) that had started with the basic design of dividing the paper into squares.  I grabbed whatever I had on my desk that was a square or rectangle and traced them onto my paper and proceeded to fill them in.

squares and pipes

 I tried some new designs - the worn bricks, illusion of bumpy wires (how else would you describe it?) and pipes.  I love how a little shading makes things come alive!

This one is obviously "heart." I like how the swirls and seashell came out.  I'm never quite sure what I'm going to come up with.  I have a really hard time leaving white space.  Can you tell?  :)  This is my sister, Chris' favorite.


And here's my last one for 2014.  It had a botanical theme.  The leaves in the upper right remind be of the elephant ears plant.  And I had to include dandelions.  They may be weeds, but I still like them (just not in my garden).


That's all for now.  I may get caught up one of these days!  Probably shortly after I get all my UFO's done!


Check out my Pinterest Boards

and doodling/zentangle Tons of ideas here, by much more talented people than me. 

Or see all my doodles in my Picasa album.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I call it "doodling"

Is there anyone besides me that thinks calling your doodling "Zentangles" is more than a little bit pretentious? I've been doing drawings like this since I was in middle school. Back then, and still today, I just call it doodling.
Flying Geese

I had done a few half-page doodles with whatever pen or pencil I could find to hand while I was watching TV. I don't like sitting around without having my hands busy.
Eye Color

My daughter, Lisa, liked them so much she scanned them so she could color them. It was her way of relaxing at college. Then she gave me a sketchbook so I could do more!

Find the feathered "K"

String of Pearls

This is one I did when I was practicing my free-motion quilting. Read about it here.

Frame Practice

Do you see the bugs and the apple pie?  The pie started out as a simple basket weave, but when I put the circle border around it, all I could see was a pie!  By the way, there's no bugs in the pie!


There's just something about finding a good pen that glides across the paper; or a pencil that writes so smoothly...


...It makes me want to keep on drawing.

Lisa picked up some colored pens for me too. :-) 

There's happy lobsters, or maybe they are crabs, in this one.

If you'd like to color them you can download full-sized images from my Picasa album, Doodles by Kathy.

Here's an ant bound for the theater!

I hope you enjoy them!  Let me know what you think in the comments below, and show me what you've colored!

Happy coloring!