What I want to establish here is not to overlook your neighborhood hardware store to create something decorative. Theatres have been using them for a long time and I would venture to guess that there are a few event/party planners out there who have also made a clandestine trip or two to Ace or Depot, etc.
I’ve already touched on what I get from the HD to create papier mâché; lumber, chicken wire, paint. I will now tell you of some other items that can be utilized.
· Cement form tubes – these come in sizes from 8” in diameter to at least 12” (there are probably more, but this is what I’ve seen) and most are about 4-4 ½’ tall. They aren’t just for pouring cement footings; they can be used in a multitude of ways.
o Columns – such as the ones I used for this years After Prom to form mausoleum columns. These were stacked and faux painted to look like marble.
o Pier supports – or made to look like pier supports. Cap them off with wood or Styrofoam and faux paint them to look like log posts. Coil and tie hemp rope around them to make it look more authentic
o Bases for a balloon arch– These were painted in florescent colors for a 60’s area, then the arch was tied to gallon water jugs which were put into the tubes (make sure your wire or fishing line is long enough so that the balloons look like they start at the top of the tube).
o Focus tubes for up lighting - Cut them down to the size you need, paint the outside black, and line with aluminum (at least around the light) to protect the tube from heat.
o Sewer drains – I know, this sounds weird but it works. Cut them down and give them a base coat of white paint. Then they are ready for the next hardware store product that comes in very handy for décor.
· Plaster, spackle, or drywall mud – You can buy this in different sizes or dry to mix. I prefer the readymade stuff in a tub that you just open and slap on.
o Sewer drains cont. – Once the base coat of paint is dry, slap on some plaster and user your fingers, a brush or a sponge to give it a rough cement look, you can insert it into part of the decoration, as I did with a papier mâché wall this year, or place it strategically in your grand design.
o Old stone treasure chest – We took an old wicker trunk, donated by a very willing parent and covered it with plaster, roughed it up and then dyed it with tea bags that had been soaked in warm water. It was very convincing.
· Sand – Yes, sand is messy but, if you want to get the look of stone on a larger scale without having to use a huge amount of plaster get a bag of construction or play sand.
o Stone walls – Here we go back to the usefulness of lumber for frames. Have a handy husband, or maybe you can do this yourself, build a frame (mine are typically 8’ tall by 4’ wide and staple cardboard to it. Here is where the “oops” paint at most hardware stores becomes a great bargain as there is usually some shade of beige, sand, taupe, brown, or gray on the shelf. Pour some in a paint pan, mix sand into the mix, and using a cheap roller, roll on the gritty paint. When dry, it looks like a stone wall. You can then embellish it however you want. NOTE: For an awesome urban look, find yourself a really good graffiti artist.
o Stone blocks – You know those free postal boxes that they have at your neighborhood post office? With the right amount of treatment, they can look like stone blocks. Close them up, beat them up, and use the same treatment as you did on the walls. Stack them any way you want to create the look you want. If your husband works for the US Postal Service, make sure he understands that this is for the kids, that the Post Office is doing its part in a community service, and that every box used is well appreciated. Or, ask him to turn a blind eye.
· Rigid clear plastic tubing – I can’t say enough about rigid plastic tubing and twinkle lights. It’s awesome. Stand them up, line them up, run different colored lights through them. Make sure that the tubing is at least 1” in diameter and no larger than 2-3”. After that it kind of loses the glowy look and its appeal.
· Tomato cages – If any of you have ever looked at an Anderson’s or Stumps prom catalog, you may have seen the gossamer covered columns they sell that have the twinkle lights on the inside that give that romantic soft glow. They charge a pretty penny for these. I say create your own. Get some tomato cages, attach them together, cover them with gossamer or other filmy fabric, run twinkle lights down through the middle and presto, you have lighted columns!
· PVC – Any PVC. You can use is for flag poles, frames, bracing, etc. I think I could come up with a lot of ideas if given enough time. PVC is like having Tinker Toys again, only larger. There are all kinds of bends and angles, different sizes of tubing, and you can get them cut to whatever size you need. The possibilities might be endless. We once had a jail cell made of a wood frame and PVC bars.
· Metal tubing – Again, flagpoles come to mind. We have used them as such.
· Wooden dowels – Many uses here as well; flags, bracing, bars, banner hangers.
If I had the time to go down each aisle and look at the different items and think about what they might be used for, I could spend a lot of it in a hardware store. I could say the same of the fabric and craft store. However, the point of this installment was to color outside the lines, think out of the box, and all those other clichés.
Like I said, Home Depot is the best craft store – EVER! So, next time you are in a hardware store, check out the merchandise, open your creative eye, and see what you come up with.
Have a happy and blessed Easter/Passover!