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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: 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:

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.