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
small paint brush (for paint)
small foam paint brush (for glitter)
26 gauge wire
3/8" ribbon (wider or narrower depending on your preference)
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!