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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:

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