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Number 3 Smarties Cake

Jakob’s 15th(!!!) birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so just as I’ve been doing for Henri, I’m going to countdown Jakob’s past birthday cakes.

Jakob’s first birthday cake was a simple homemade banana cake with an edible printed sheet.

I’ve never owned a food ink printer so I designed the image on my computer then brought it to a local restaurant supply store who offered the edible print service.

(I don’t have an image of the complete cake for some reason).

His second birthday pirate cake and pirate cupcakes were actually the first food tutorials I’ve posted on this blog. Which brings us to his third birthday. He had 2 cakes when he turned three, as he had both family and friends/daycare parties. For his family party I made this easy “number 3-shaped” cake.

All you need to do to create this cake is bake 2 round cakes. Mine were both 8″. One layer each will work, though if you want a higher cake you can tort and fill each cake so you have 2 layers.

Follow the instructions on the downloadable template above to create your shape. First cut and remove the center of each cake, leaving a ring-shape. Cut away a quarter of each ring, and then position the rings as a “3” to make it easier to see where to cut away the remining bit of cake. So that the cakes sit nicely together, remove a slice off the edge of each ring where the two cakes will touch, so the surfaces that touch are flat, not rounded. (Section 3 in the template).

Then all you need to do is ice and decorate your cake! I decided to keep the small inner cake sections and decorate them as well.

To make decorating super quick and easy, I used Smarties to cover each cake. The longest part of this was sorting the candy packages by color! Once I had them in individual bowls, the placement of each was pretty fast.

First I iced the cake (in my case, vanilla icing on a chocolate cake base), then covered it in the Smarties. I chose to place them in a gradient from darkest on the bottom to lightest on top, for an almost “sunrise”-looking effect.

One of the cake centers was iced and given candles for Jakob to blow out. He got to have this one for himself (and no one else got his germs from trying to blow on the candles!).

The other center was iced in a similar fashion to the main cake, using up the remaining Smarties. I believe we’d sent it home to a family member who’d been unable to attend.

Shaped cakes can be tricky but this one is really easy and looks great, and all it takes is 2 round cake layers, some icing and a bulk bag of candy.

It didn’t only look good- the birthday boy found it tasted finger-licking good too!

Jakob’s other birthday cakes


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DIY Twisted Sister Album Replica

Today I’m going to share the steps I took to create a prop replica of this Twisted Sister record album for a Becket stage show a few years ago:

We had done a skit routine to the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” which was released 38 years ago today, on April 27th 1984. In addition to the skit requirements of tossing the record album around, in general props are often flung out of the way during quick set changes, and we didn’t want to take a chance on damaging an actual record, even if we’d owned one. Therefore I decided to make this stage-safe replica that I could easily re-make in case of damage or loss.

The basis of the record is a piece of stiff cardboard cut to size. Standard record albums are 7″, 10″ and 12″. Unfortunately the best piece of cardboard I had was only 11″ wide but since no one would be able to tell from the audience so I cut it into a square to use. The key was cardboard that would be thick enough to not bend or warp during the multiple rehearsals and performances. If your cardboard is too thin you can layer a few sheets together with glue.

To replicate the “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” album, my next step was to paint the entire surface with black acrylic paint. I will be demonstrating the steps for this specific album but the same principles can be followed to recreate any required prop for theater or costume use. You can even copy your favorite albums for wall decor!

Many of my projects involve using templates and this one is no different! Once I’d chosen my cardboard I printed a copy of the record album to the appropriate scale.

Then I used the graphite trick of scribbling along the back of my image in order to transfer the design. These days I use carbon paper as I find it faster and easier, but pencils work well too.

With the back of the image covered in graphite (or with carbon paper underneath), I placed it into the correct spot and traced over all the lines. A stylus works great for this but you can just as easily use a pencil or ballpoint pen.

It’s hard to see the transferred image. I did play with the contrast to try and show it but it’s pretty faint.

Using the original album cover art for reference, I colored in the image with metallic markers and added highlights with a Derwent Drawing white pencil.

I used the same transfer method to add the album title…

…though this time I pushed a bit harder into the cardboard to give my marker ink borders. This can help contain a bit of the ink flow, if your markers are very runny. If you don’t have markers in the proper colors you can paint your album cover instead.

I had a close-enough color in my metallic markers so I used that for the band name and smaller lettering.

That’s it!

The final touch was a few coats of sealant for protection and then the album cover replica was complete!

This was a super easy and fast DIY that looks incredibly effective on stage, and because it was only cardboard and markers I didn’t have to add to our prop budget nor worry if it took some abuse and I had to remake it. That said, it was surprisingly sturdy and held up great through every rehearsal and all performances.

You can easily use the same steps to recreate any album for your own prop needs.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Avoiding Chores with Coloring!

Did you know that today, April 7, is National No Housework Day? As a crafter, I’m ALWAYS looking for reasons to get more time in with my hobbies, so avoiding housework to spend that time doing things I love sounds like a FANTASTIC idea.

I can’t pretend this is the only day I’ve ever put off housework in favor of a project or seven though… Most recently I took advantage of a lazy weekend afternoon to do some coloring and try out a new background technique in a coloring book page. If you’d like to celebrate the holiday today by doing the same, read on for more info!

After going through my coloring book stash to see what fit my mood, I went with the super rad Like, Totally 80’s coloring book and picked a new page instead of working on one of the pages I’ve already prepped.

I wanted the quick satisfaction of using markers and this page had just the right mix of small details and elements. This book is single-sided which is great as you don’t have to worry about ruining an image on the back of the page.

To make things even more mindless, I gave myself a limited color palette. I found an 80s-inspired palette of these 6 colors:

…which I then matched in my Crayola SuperTips.

It was mindless, for sure, but I forgot that coloring is rarely quick! So I had no choice but to spend even more evenings avoiding housework.

Once all the small sections were complete all that remained was the background. It was too much to fill in with the markers so I reached for my Prismas instead.

First I filled in the entire background with a light gray (not shown). Then, using 3 colors that matched 3 of the marker colors, I went over the background again, doing large, irregular sections of color.

Next I went over the whole thing with a layer of black. My goal was to have the different shades give the black some dimension while subtly tying in the bright 80s tones.

The final step was to go over the entire background one last time, this time with my Derwent Burnisher. You can see the massive difference this makes in the image above – the background below the blue squiggle has been burnished, while the area above has not. There was no additional color applied; I merely flattened the layers of color using the burnishing pencil.

I really like how it turned out! It’s a silly, chaotic coloring book page but it was fun and I really enjoy the subtle depth the black background has by having the other colors underneath.

Looking back now I prefer the original background but at the time I’d felt it wasn’t bright enough to really SCREAM “80s”. I decided to outline everything (and also add random dots around the edge of the page for some reason…?) with a white Posca paint marker. These markers are great with colored pencils as they go over it beautifully without skipping, and once dry you can tint the paint with your markers or pencils.

To beat back the white glare I did just that. Using the same 6 SuperTips I went over the white paint to give every item an outline “glow”.

In the end I’m not mad at the final page (above), but I do prefer it pre-paint. That said, it was a lovely excuse to get out of housework for a bit and do something (relatively) mindless.

I hope you get to use today as an excuse to put down the vacuum or laundry and do something fun that makes you happy!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How To: DIY Super Mario Bros Banner

For my last post of Mario Month 2022, I’m going to show you how to make these DIY Super Mario Bros-themed banners:

I used them as stage runners for a Mario-themed skit, but they can also be hung as banners to dress up the decor at a Mario-themed party, photoshoot or event.

In case it’s been a while since you’ve seen what a Super Mario Brothers game looks like, this is the setting I was attempting to recreate on stage:

I’ve already made a warp pipe set piece, but to really give the stage a “Mario-world” look I decided to make banners/runners in the style of the iconic bricks, blocks and ground texture.

If you look at the screenshot it’s clear there are 3 distinct patterns – the bricks, the “?” blocks, and the ground sections. Before I can scale and print my templates I needed to know what dimension I could work with.

I used the same roll of recycled paper as for the warp pipe, and it is 36″ wide so the easiest thing to do was to cut the roll in half lengthwise, and base my measurements around that.

On my computer I cropped out one repeat section of each of the 3 patterns and scaled them evenly to be 18″ high.

I printed the templates and taped the sections of paper together to have exactly the pieces I needed. Then I cut my strips to the proper length. The floating banner (the one Mario jumps on/under) was cut to fit 6 blocks of my template wide to best fit the width of our band’s drum riser. For the ground-level banner, I wanted to fill as much as possible of my stage width, so I divided my total stage width (about 30′) by the width of the ground template, and made sure I cut my length appropriately to fit in the maximum number of repeats that would fit my stage.

This paper rolls up nicely which makes storage of both the materials in progress as well as the final banners a breeze!

As for the warp pipe, the whole project was done with inexpensive materials, including the acrylic paint. I started with the floating segment and marked off the width of each segment, then painted the brick sections brown.

I had just barely enough room to set it aside to dry so I could move on to the stage runner.

The stage runner was given a brown base coat along the entire length.

Due to space constraints, I set up my workstation to allow me to keep moving the runner to the right, while working from the left.

Luckily by the time I ran out of room to extend the far end, it was dry enough to roll up on itself.

The ground template would be getting a lot of use as I had to trace it over and over along the entire length of the runner, so I protected it with my favorite cheap lamination method – packing tape.

Then I set about tracing it over and over and over…

Carbon paper is fantastic for this as it provides erasable marks that are dark enough to be seen but light enough to be painted over. I used a ruler to be sure my lines would be straight, and a pen, stylus or chopstick/skewer would all work equally well for the tracing.

Once all the tracing was done it was time to paint the details. This required black and white paint, along with some extra brown to fix any mistakes.

I didn’t want any color bleeding, so first I worked my way through painting the white sections…

…rolling the work up as soon as it was dry enough to move forward…

…and then once the white was complete I moved it to the other side to start over, now painting the black ones.

It’s a long process, but very relaxing and great for podcast/audiobook listening!

With the ground painted and set aside, I returned to the floating banner and added a lighter brown base to the “?” block sections.

Just as for the ground, I traced my templates and then worked in sections to paint them.

First I did all the black and the bit of white highlight on the bricks…

…and then I went back in and did the remaining brown on the “?” blocks.

I love the finished result! It’s so easy and doesn’t take too long but has such a high visual impact for the stage or as party decor.

You can see how accurate the result turns out when you use a good, scaled template.

Once all the painting was done I gave the banners a few days to air dry to be sure there was no moisture left in the recycled paper, and then I set about laminating them.

If you’re only making a banner for a party or to stage a photoshoot, this next step is optional.

Just as for the warp pipe, these banners would be used in a stage show with multiple performances and incredibly quick set changes, and it would be a waste of my time and effort making them if they ripped during rehearsal or mid-performance.

Starting with a 1-2′ strip of tape, I lay it on one of the straight edges, overlapping halfway. Then I lifted the edge of the banner and folded the free half of the tape over, pressing well. This protected the edge of the paper from any moisture getting in.

Repeat the process on all edges. For a long banner like the ground one, you can do this in sections as you go.

Then, using more packing tape, work horizontally across your piece to laminate it. Overlap your strips slightly, again to make sure no gaps are left where moisture could get in. Once done, trim up your edges with a craft knife.

I chose to also laminate the back of my banners. While this does use up extra tape and is not visible to the audience, it provides an extra layer of durability and moisture protection. Also, as we were using velcro tape to quickly hang and remove the banners during each performance, I didn’t want to take a chance on being able to pull the tape off from the paper and damaging it.

The finished banner is now durable and reliable for frequent rough handling.

I then repeated the same process on the ground-level banner.

And with that, they are complete. The banners roll up easily for storage and transport, and applied perfectly to our stage pieces with heavy duty velcro tape. We had incredibly quick, rough set changes where the stage hands slapped them into place and then ripped them off while running off stage during the blackouts, and they held up perfectly!

Here’s how they looked on stage. The original plan was to have the drum riser get the floating banner and hang the ground runner off the front of the stage, but in dress rehearsals we realized that it would be too low to be seen by anyone in the audience except the very front, so we raised it up to run the length of the full band riser instead.

It was a really cute, fun skit/dance number, and definitely an audience favorite. I was so pleased that my stage runners, warp pipe, and all the costume pieces were an important part of that, and have held up to this day (4 years later).

All of this year’s Mario Month posts are from that skit, and next year’s will include instructions on how to make Princess Peach’s wand, Toad’s hat, and the Piranha Pete costume.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How To: DIY Super Mario Bros Wario Costume

All month long I’ve been sharing Super Mario Bros-themed DIYs for my official 2022 Mario Month, and today’s post pulls all the Wario costume pieces together with some final touches to round out an easy DIY Wario costume.

For a refresher, here’s the yellow-and-purple guy himself:

And here’s how my cosplay turned out:

You will need:

To make the Wario hat you can follow my DIY instructions here.

My easy DIY instructions for the Wario mustache are posted here.

Wario’s gloves are a pair of simple white gloves with a rolled cuff and large blue “W”s on the back of each hand. I used an inexpensive pair of winter “one-size-fits-all” stretchy gloves and the same dark blue felt as for the W on his hat.

Because my costume was needed for several performances with quick (and rough) costume changes, I sewed the “W”s into place with matching thread. If you’re not worried about durability you can choose to use hot glue instead. In both cases, however, I would attach the letter while wearing the glove, as if you sewed it while laying flat it would not stretch properly once worn. (The glue or stitches would hinder the gloves’ stretch and the letters would appear wonky and/or possibly detach).

Repeat the process for the other hand.

Note: I’m right-handed, so it was easy to sew the left glove while wearing it, but not as easy for the right. At first I tried to compensate by wearing the left glove backwards on my right hand, so I could continue to sew with my dominant hand.

Unfortunately the results look terrible. Therefore I really recommend wearing the glove on the appropriate hand and sewing with your non-dominant one if necessary. If you go slow and take small stitches while awkward…it’s not impossible, and the results look much better.

Wario’s clothes consist of a solid-color yellow tshirt and purple pants with suspenders. I’ve linked suitable options for all three items above, though for my costume I was lucky and found the shirt and pants at my local thrift store. I didn’t think Amazon would have purple suspenders so I made my own. I happened to have some purple fabric at home so used that, though the color match wasn’t the best.

To make the suspenders yourself, put on the pants and and take the following measurements:

Length: measure the length in inches from the waistband in front, up and over the shoulder, and down the back to the waistband in back. Add 3-4″ to this measurement.

Width: the desired width of your suspenders in inches, doubled, plus 1″.

You will first create a tube by folding your fabric in half lengthwise, wrong-sides out, and then sewing a line about 1/2″ in from the open edge.

Once your tube is secure, carefully flip it inside-out. A knitting needle/skewer/chopstick is handy for this! Arrange the fabric so the seam is in the center and iron or finger-press the edges down to keep the strip flat.

The 3-4″ inches extra length added were for use in attaching the suspenders. If your pants have belt loops, first pass one raw edge through the opening of the claw hook, fold the edge in about 1/2″ and then sew down securely. My hook rotates but if yours is stationary be sure to have the side of the tube with the seam at the back.

Once the hook is attached, fold the other raw edge over as well and then sew it to the pants at the rear waistband, again being sure to have the seam on the inside. If you prefer a less permanent option, you can use claw hooks on the other end of the tube as well, and attach on both sides using the belt loops.

If your pants don’t have belt loops you will need to sew all 4 edges into place.

Wario’s pants are actually overalls with big white buttons but it’s easier to create suspenders and then fake the button look on top. If you prefer to make overall straps then instead of attaching claw hooks you will need to make a buttonhole and then sew 2 buttons onto your pants. I was worried buttons might undo during my dance number so I went for the more secure option of suspenders.

To fake the button look, cut two circles out of white felt and stitch (or hot glue) them into place above where the suspenders attach.

With that, your Wario costume is done! I wore this during a performance with fast quick-changes, so having my next costume underneath was the perfect way to add some padding and give Wario his more rounded physique.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How To: Easy DIY Super Mario Bros Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi Mustaches

Today’s post for Mario Month is a really fast and easy DIY for making Mario, Luigi, Wario or Waluigi’s iconic mustaches. You can also adapt the same technique to make any other style of costume/cosplay/dress up mustache you’d like.

You will need:

The first thing you’ll want to do is find a reference image of the look you’re going for. I found this clear picture showing all 4 character’s faces from straight-on.

You can freehand your desired shape onto scrap paper if you like. In my case, I cropped out the mustache portion of each image, scaled it for an adult-sized head (with the same proportions as on the characters) and printed it out.

Once you have your template drawn or printed, cut it out and trace it onto your cardstock. This will be sandwiched between two layers of felt to give the mustache stability. For Mario and Luigi it’s not as important, but Wario’s and Waluigi’s need a stronger construction to keep them from falling flat and limp.

Next, trace your template again, this time onto your felt (image 1, below).

Important- you want to cut out your shape BIGGER than the template (image 2, below). You can freehand this when cutting or trace around your outline and then cut along that new line.

Trace the felt cutout a second time (image 3, above). Then stack your two pieces of felt to be sure they are identical, trimming or adjusting if necessary (image 4, above).

Place your first felt piece with the front (public) side facing down. Place your template on top. Make sure your second felt piece is oriented correctly and then sew the middle of a strip of elastic to the center. The ends will be knotted and trimmed later, though if you prefer you can cut yours to length now and sew the two ends together here for an unbroken loop.

Using the same thread color as your felt, sew the two halves of the mustache together with the piece of cardstock in between. You can use a running stitch, backstitch or whip-stitch the edges. Alternatively, you could hot-glue the two layers together.

The two larger mustaches (Wario and Waluigi) need a bit of extra support to remain upright and angled as in the reference images. (You can see how it pulls away from the face on the right side of the upper image). Try on the mustache and mark the spot where the elastic and mustache should meet (as I am doing on the left side of the upper image). Note: it is important to mark these points while WEARING the accessory due to the elastic’s stretch. Once your spots are marked, sew the inner felt piece to the elastic on each side of center.

Here you can see the final Wario result! The two ends are standing up perfectly and the extra two stitches keep the mustache conformed to the face instead of free-floating. They also help hide the elastic when the accessory is viewed from the front.

The process is exactly the same for the remaining characters.

Here you can see all 4. Wario and Waluigi have the extra stitches on the elastic. Mario and Luigi do not and I think they would have benefited from it.

In all, this was a really quick and easy add-on to these costumes. They held up through 6 full performances and many rehearsals, including rushed quick-changes between numbers.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How To: Easy DIY Super Mario Bros Hats

Continuing Mario Month, today I’m going to show you how to make really easy character hats for Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi.

I’d looked at a lot of online DIYs when planning my Wario costume for our Super Mario Bros skit, and I liked bits and pieces of each. In the end I compiled suggestions and ideas from a few different patterns and am sharing it as a tutorial so you can use it to make your own costume or cosplay pieces!

For reference, here’s Wario and his hat.

While it’s very similar to the other 3, his is unique in having the white circle cut off by the brim, and by having his initial oversized. As such I decided to make his first, and then focus on the 3 remaining hats for my castmates.

You will need:

The first thing you want to do is draw a template on paper you can cut out. If you have bowls of the appropriate size then you can trace them, otherwise you can use a compass and ruler.

To save paper, draw your circles within each other. In my original template (above) I didn’t have a bowl with the diameter I wanted, so I traced my largest bowl then manually sketched in another circle about an inch wider, so there’s an extra circle showing. Also my pencil marks aren’t as easy to see so here’s a clean template with dimensions:

These dimensions are for an adult-sized hat but it’s easily customizable to make any size you’d like.

Cut out all pieces from your template. The easiest way to do this is to cut out your largest circle (A) and then cut circles B and C from within A. You can cut square D out from circle C after using it, or out of a scrap of paper (so you can keep all 4 pieces of your template for future use).

If you’re planning to make numerous hats you can preserve your template by laminating it with packing tape as I did for the Warp Pipe. You can also cut it from cardstock instead of plain paper for added durability.

Circle “A” is cut twice. One “A” will be left whole and will be the top of the hat. The second “A” will be the lower half. Circle “B” is cut from inside the second circle “A”. It should be centered evenly and then shifted down a bit to leave one section a bit deeper. (In the image below, you can see the hole is a bit higher and to the right vs centered, leaving more yellow on the lower left side).

If you are making Mario, Luigi or Waluigi hats, you can continue to the brim. Wario’s hat is the only one with a two-toned brim, so I traced half of template “B” onto white felt – “(B)” above.

All 4 characters have a white circle on their hats, so you can cut circle “C” from white felt.

Take circle “A” with the hole in it and position so the deeper section is upwards. This is where the details will go.

Position circle “C” into place (noting for Wario that his is the only hat whose circle is more obviously cut off by the brim) and then use matching thread to sew it into place. (You can also use hot glue, as I did for the other hats later in this post).

The other 3 characters’ initials will be cut from square “D”. Wario is the only one with an exaggeratedly large initial on his hat. Cut the “W” from felt and sew (or glue) it into place.

For Wario’s brim, first I lined up the white half on top of the yellow circle “B” and then cut off the excess. Then I sewed the half-circle edge together, leaving the straight edge open. Next I flipped it inside out and smoothed it flat, and then stitched the flat edge shut.

To easily center the brim, fold it in half and mark the center lightly. Do the same on the yellow circle. Line up the two marks, and keeping them aligned, sew the flat edge of the brim to the hat under the initial.

Place this completed lower hat piece upside down on the whole circle “A”. In the first image I had pinned them together, and the second image is after the stitching is complete.

Flip the hat inside-out and you’re done!

If you find the head-hole too small you can cut it larger, but you want to err on a more snug fit as felt will stretch over time. I used the 6″ diameter for all 4 hats and they fit perfectly, staying in place during 6 performances and multiple rehearsals!

The remaining character hats are all identical (except for color and initial) so I did them all assembly-line style. First cut out all template pieces.

Cut the initials from square “D”. I used scraps from cutting out the largest circle. I also switched to a glue gun for the details as it works really well on felt (though since the hats would be getting a lot of rough usage I stuck to sewing for the main construction).

Glue the details into place…

…fold the brims in half and sew them shut…

…then sew the brims into place. After that just sew the two large circles together and flip.

A final, optional step is to iron the edges to help keep them crisp and flat.

Each hat takes under 30 minutes to complete, making this a really quick and easy DIY.

They make a great addition to any Super Mario Bros costume or cosplay and would also be wonderful party favors for gaming-themed celebrations.

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How to: Super Mario Bros Warp Pipe set piece

It’s Mario month! March 10th is Mario Day (get it? MAR-10 looks like Mario!) but I’ve decided to make it an entire Mario month here on the blog by sharing a bunch of Super Mario-themed DIY projects. This assortment of costume and set pieces were made for a Mario Bros skit we did in Becket a few years back, but they would work just as well for Hallowe’en, cosplay, photoshoots or even birthday party decor and favors.

The first of the bunch is a set piece, specifically the Super Mario Bros warp pipe:

If you look closely at the warp pipe you’ll see there are two distinct repeats.

Ignoring the black outline for now, the top section has two unique horizontal stripes followed by a repeat that runs the rest of the shorter section (the vertical sections and checkerboard). The bottom section of the warp pipe has a horizontal black shadow followed by a similar, but narrower, vertical stripe/checkerboard repeat.

You’ll want to scale the pipe to your desired width. For the base of my set pieces I used a roll of recycled paper that was 36″ wide, so that was my max width. The paper would later be mounted onto plywood with an angled brace on the back to keep it standing on stage.

A design like the warp pipe is pretty linear and easy to plot out freehand, but I wanted to make sure I had everything scaled properly so I cropped out both repeats highlighted above and resized them to be 36″ wide. I then taped my printouts together to get an accurate slice of each pipe section.

This is the roll of recycled paper I used. The split sections were cut for the matching stage runners and then I cut a piece about 4.5′ long for the warp pipe itself.

This entire project was done with inexpensive materials, including the acrylic paint.

Start by painting the entire surface the pipe’s base green. I didn’t cut the pipe shape at this point because I would be using the side edges to line up my pattern.

Once dry, draft the pattern onto your surface. You can measure it out if you like but I found it easier to use carbon paper to trace the top pipe pattern, and then used a ruler to measure out and repeat the checkered grid 6 times. By tracing the top with carbon paper I had the exact placement of the vertical lines and was able to easily use a ruler and continue them down to where the lower section began.

For the lower pipe section I repeated the process, tracing the top of the lower pipe and the first checkerboard repeat. I then moved the template down to the bottom edge and traced the vertical lines again. I didn’t trace the horizontal lines as I wanted to measure out the checkboard squares themselves, but by tracing the vertical lines I was able to connect them to the ones higher up and ensure my lines were straight. It really helps to use the longest ruler you’ve got! I use this adjustable t-square for drafting and as a cutting edge and love it.

I boosted the contrast on this image to try and show all the pencil lines. I wasn’t terribly concerned about them showing through the paint as this is a stage prop and wouldn’t be seen from close up, but if you are concerned about that you can sketch lightly or erase your lines slightly to soften them (though that might require paint touch-ups later).

Now that the guide lines were in place I used a craft knife and my ruler’s edge to trim the side for the warp pipe’s shape. I then painted the lighter green color. You can also do this in reverse – do your base layer in the lighter shade and then add the darker details later. You can also sketch right onto your untouched paper and paint both colors later, if desired.

Do as many coats of the green as required for it to be opaque. Once the greens are dry, add a black border and shadow under the top section.

You could stop at this point but since mine was for a set piece that would be carried on and off stage for at least 6 shows and a handful of rehearsals, I wanted to make sure it would be durable. I knew it would be glued to wood but didn’t want the paper to tear or have paint flake off. So I decided to use my favorite cheap & easy lamination method – clear packing tape!

Start by adding one strip of tape that overhangs your piece on both ends to secure it to your cutting surface. (My cutting surface is my dining room table, which has many cuts from previous projects. Don’t be like me LOL).

You’ll want the tape running either vertically or horizontally, but for the best look you want it running in nice, straight lines. I used the edge of the black border to line up my first strip.

I deliberately DIDN’T line up to the edge of the pipe, even though I was confident my edge was straight. This is because I wanted my edge piece of tape to be centered half on, and half off the edge, so I could fold it over the edge for protection.

Continue taping, doing your best to keep the tape smooth and flat, without wrinkles. Large air bubbles can be popped with a pin and smoothed out but an even application will help avoid them. If you look closely at the top left of the pipe in the image above, you can see the tape overhanging the side of the top of the pipe, about to be folded to the back.

Here it is fully taped.

If worried about the glare from the tape you can also use Mod Podge or a spray sealant.

And here it is in the show! For reference, that’s me as Wario, and I’m 5’4″. It made a great bit of stage decor and a convenient hiding place for some skit props we hid behind it!

Here’s the full 2022 Mario Month summary:

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Crafts with Kids: How to Make a Talking Card

Did you know that February 21st is “Card Reading Day”? According to Checkiday.com this is a day for reading and enjoying cards that you’ve received over the years, that you’ve held on to for sentimental reasons. Here’s a quick and easy card project you can make with your kids to give others something they can hold on to and re-read on future Card Reading days.

To make a talking greeting card you will need:

  • paper or cardstock
  • scissors (plain or with a creative edge)
  • bone folder (optional)
  • pencil
  • supplies of choice for decorating (markers, colored pencil, construction paper, glue, etc)

STEP 1- with your paper placed vertically in front of you (taller than wider), fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge, then press fold flat

My kids decided to try out this project, so I talked them through it while making my sample and let them have full creative control over their own.

STEP 2- unfold your paper and this time fold it vertically, so the left edge goes behind and under the right edge.

I’d first learned this card at an art class when I was a bit younger than my boys are now, so it was cool to be teaching it to them now, and passing it on.

STEP 3- orient the card so the fold is on the right. Figure out where you want the mouth to be and make a straight cut.

Your mouth can be as high or low on the card as you would like, but remember that you will be folding the edges on the diagonal, so if you want to place it closer to the upper or lower edges, you will need to make your cut shorter. (So you don’t surpass the upper or lower edge of the inner card face – this will become clearer after the next step).

Henri and I used regular scissors for a straight cut, and Jakob chose ones with a pinking blade to get a zigzag edge to his mouth.

STEP 4- fold either side of the cut edges up, and press firmly. Repeat the same folds to the other side. If you think of the mouth as a bird’s beak, you are folding at the beak’s outer edges.

Our examples are shown with the folds at roughly 45 degrees but you can get creative with this. With a shorter cut you can fold at 45 degrees for a smaller mouth or you can fold at a narrower angle for a bigger mouth (with a small opening).

STEP 5- once you have folded the cut edges to both sides of the card, smooth them flat then fold the top half of the card down to the back.

This puts the 2 solid faces on the outside for the front and back of the card and the mouth on the inside.

STEP 6- use your fingers to tuck the mouth/beak folds outwards while keeping the card folding inwards. Then press the card flat and smooth over it a few times, to “set” that fold.

This is the mouth that will open and close as you open and close the card, making it look like your card is “talking”!

STEP 7- the final step is to use a pencil to lightly trace the inside mouth corners to mark off the boundaries of where you can put your “spoken” message.

You want to use a pencil for two reasons: 1) a pen or marker might bleed through your paper to the outside faces of the card, and 2) you can erase the border after creating your message, for a cleaner look.

From this point on you can decorate the card however you like!

We all ended up taking inspiration from the mouth looking like a beak, and created bird-themed cards.

Jakob and I went for sweet birthday messages…

…while Henri went a bit rogue!

Reinforcing how well he takes after his punny mom, Jakob made a cute BIRD-day card.

I think it’s really TWEET!

He was so proud he just had to CROW about it. (Ok I’ll stop)

I went for a similar theme with mine.

Because the inside of the card isn’t visible (except for where the message is) you can use alcohol markers or other media that might bleed through your paper. You can avoid the message area or glue in a clean bit of white paper after decorating the rest of the card, enabling you to get as creative as you’d like and not be limited to dry media.

I’m so glad I got to pass on this easy card-making method. I hope you (or your kids) make some cute, creative cards that can be someone’s sentimental memory to look at fondly in the future. ❤


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Retro DIY 3D Doritos Bag

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and everyone knows the best parts of any Super Bowl are the snacks and the commercials, right? (No? Just me?)

It’s been 24 years (!!!) since Ali Landry famously tossed 3D Doritos into a laundromat dryer in an ad during Super Bowl XXXII, and 1 year since she showed she’s still got the same moves for snacking. I had to recreate this vintage snack a few years ago as a prop for a skit that took place in the 90s, and today I’m going to show you how you can make your own. Whether it’s for a play, a costume accessory, or simply nostalgic feels, it’s a quick and easy DIY that doesn’t require many supplies to make.

Note: 3D Doritos were relaunched in 2021 and got Matthew McConaughey’s “FlatMatthew” ad during Super Bowl LV, but they redesigned the bag so we’re going to focus on the original.

Besides access to a printer, you’ll need a few other supplies:

  • paper
    • I used full-page sticker paper, but you can use regular printer paper as well. If using sticker paper make sure it’s white and matte.
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • clear packing tape
  • scissors
  • glue stick (if you used printer paper)
  • 1 bag of regular Doritos

Start with your bag of Doritos. Empty the bag (into a bowl… or your mouth… no judgements here) and then carefully wash the inside and outside with soapy water. You want to make sure there is no food left inside that could mold over time, as well as remove any greasy or oily fingerprints from the outside that could interfere with your glue/tape.

3D Doritos have a red background so I used a bag of regular nacho flavor Doritos as my base so the back of the bag would match the altered front. Allow your bag to dry thoroughly before attaching your image.

Find a source image online and print it to scale with your bag. There are a number of great image resources out there, so you can use your favorite. Just be sure to choose a the highest image quality you can find, for the best results when printing.

If your printer quality is lackluster, like mine, you can retouch your printout with markers or colored pencils. I needed my prop to be highly visible from stage to an audience of 200-300 people, so I chose to deepen some of the sections for higher contrast.

In the image on the left, you can see the difference in the retouched red (to the left of my marker) vs unretouched (the right side, which I’d already outlined with the marker). In the middle image you can see the yellow marker inside the D, and in the last image you can see the contrast between the first half of each word vs the paler second half.

Once you’re happy with your retouching, cover the entire image with clear packing tape.

Try to be as smooth as possible but if you get a few wrinkles (like I did) it isn’t the end of the world as we will be crumpling the bag later. The wrinkles won’t show from the audience so don’t stress over them.

Here you can see the vivid difference between the retouched, taped good copy and my first print that was slightly too small.

The final image is bolder and more vibrant, with higher contrast. It also more closely resembles the shiny foil of an actual bag of chips vs a printed piece of paper.

Trim your image to the size of your bag. If using sticker paper, peel off your backing and apply your sticker. If using regular paper, cover the back with stick glue then set it in place.

Use more packing tape to seal all 4 edges so your new chip bag front is fully secure.

Continue around the back, and fully cover the back, bottom seam, and open edges with packing tape as well. Foil bags tear easily and the packing tape will keep your prop from falling apart when handled.

We needed an open bag that an actor could pretend to eat from, but you could just as easily stuff the bag lightly with crumped paper and tape the bag shut, to recreate a brand-new, unopened bag of chips.

The final step after taping is to crumple the bag like crazy. For real! Squish it, scrunch it, really work creases into that tape! Real bags will fold and crease easily and stiff, straight surfaces will spoil the illusion so don’t be afraid to crumple it up into a little ball and squeeze well.

Dig in!

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