I’m two days late and a dollar short this week! Of course, it happens to be the week I’m announcing our new weekly line-up! Thank you for your patience as I catch up over the next few days. The great thing is you’ll still see all of the posts I was planning to share…just a lil’ bit behind schedule. Without further ado, let’s get on to the good stuff

Every Thursday we’ll be sharing fun tutorials right here on Oink! So, rustle up your craftin’ supplies and load your glue guns ‘cuz we’re starting off this year with a BanG! Today I’m sharing our most requested tutorial of all time…

After receiving the honor of being named, “The Paper Plate Whisperer” by The Purple Pug (aka The Glitter Whisperer) and receiving numerous emails and Facebook posts about our signature backdrop, I thought it was about time to share the why and the how with you.

The ”Why.” Desperation. Since J and I do so many product photo shoots for our party décor, we needed a backdrop that we could easily change without spending a lot of money. We tried fabric…but I would have to iron it before every shoot because it got wrinkled in storage. We tried paper…but the time and expense of shopping for just the right color to coordinate with each new product line wasn’t worth it!

One Friday night we were walking through the aisles of Party City looking for anything that would inspire us. We stopped in the aisle with paper plates, cups and napkins to vent our frustration. I was listening to J and my eyes wandered to the plates near his shoulder. Then…it hit me like a bolt of lightening! I think J thought I had an aneurysm since I looked like I was about to explode! I leaped at the plates and grabbed a few packages to show him my idea. We had a plan and after a few tweaks we had our signature backdrop!

The “How.” Gather the following supplies:

  • 30″ x 40″ foam core board (1/2″ thick)
  • 120″+ Sticky Back Velcro (white)
  • 12 – 10 1/4″ square paper plates
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • scissors

Ready? Here we go…

1. Turn the board landscape so the 40″ side is closest to you. To find the middle of this side of the board, measure 20″ and make a pencil mark at the top and the bottom of the board.

2. Measure the width of the plate and divide by 2. Be sure to measure the place because our package said 10 1/4″ wide but they were really 10 3/8″ wide. Dividing the width of our plate by 2 gives us a measurement of 5 3/16″.

3. From the bottom edge of the board (40″ side), measure 5 3/16″ (1/2 of your plate width) and make a pencil mark on your board.

4. From the mark you just made in Step 3, measure 1 plate width—10 3/8″ in our example—and make a pencil mark on the board.

5. From the mark you made in Step 4, measure 1 more plate width—another 10 3/8″—and make a pencil mark on the board.

6. Repeat Steps 3, 4 and 5 on the opposite side of the board.

7. Draw a line between the pencil marks making 3 horizontal lines across the board. The bottom line will be 5 3/16″ from the bottom of the board. The top line will be less than 5 3/16″. (The reason why is coming!)

8. Separate the Velcro if it is stuck together. Put the loop Velcro (fuzzy side) off to the side. You only need the hook (prickly) side for this step. Cut three 40″ strips of the hook Velcro.

9. Gradually attach one 40″ length of hook Velcro along each pencil line. Only peel of a small amount of backing at a time to ensure that you are attaching the Velcro straight.

You should end up with three horizontal stripes of hook Velcro. (J went a lil’ crooked on the center line!)

10. Take a paper plate, flip it over and measure the width of the square that will touch the board. Since our plates are not flat, our width was 6 1/2″.

11. Place a pencil mark at the middle of one edge—3 1/4″ on our plate. Then mark the middle of the opposite side of the plate back. These marks will be where you’ll place your loop Velcro.

12. Take the loop Velcro (fuzzy side) that you set aside earlier. Cut 24 pieces that are 1.5″ long.

{Note}: You only use 36″ of the loop Velcro but save it to attach to different plates.

13. Attach 2 of the loop Velcro pieces to the back of each plate where you marked earlier. Each piece should be flush to the edge and centered on the plate back.

14. It’s time to attach the plates to the board! Start attaching the plates along the bottom of the board. Each plate should be flush with the board’s bottom edge. The reason is…this edge will sit on the table. If the plates aren’t flush with the board, they will pull away from it and leave gaps between the bottom and middle rows of plates.

Using the 20″ center mark as a guide, attach one plate to the right of the center mark then attach one plate to the left. This will give you a nice tight fit without any gaps. Make sure you press down where the loop Velcro pieces attach to the hook Velcro strip. You want the Velcro to have a tight grip.

If you’re wondering why we put an entire strip of the hook Velcro down, we found that every plate is a slightly different size. This ensures that the plates will fit together tightly even if they are different sizes.

15. Finish attaching plates to the bottom row keeping each plate flush with the bottom edge.

16. Attach the middle row starting at the center and move outward. Make sure the bottom edges of the middle row’s plates are flush with the top edge of the bottom row’s plates to prevent gaps. Repeat the same steps for the top row of plates.

Ta-Da! You have made your own Paper Plate Backdrop!

{break for a Happy Dance!}

Since J and I use different colored plates for photo shoots, we needed an easy and affordable solution for storing all of our plates. Each set of plates is stored in a jumbo reclosable bag. Then we file them away in an office file box. The reclosable bags protects them from getting damaged while allowing us to see which color is in the bag. We can store the file box(es) on a shelf and easily access them when we need to change out the color of the backdrop.

The backdrop I shared with you today is actually half the size of our normal backdrop. We use a 40″ x 60″ board that is 1/2″ thick. We purchased the board at a local art store and it fits our table perfectly. We knew the board would see a lot of wear and tear due to storing it between shoots so we chose to use a 1/2″ thick board. If you’re not a party “life-er” like us, you can use a standard 1/4″ board from your local office supply store. If you don’t plan to store the board for another party, you can forgo the Velcro and attach the plates with heavy duty adhesive dots or double stick tape.

If you do need a large board but are not able to purchase one locally, use two small boards next to each other. Stand them up vertically (be sure to attach the plates flush to the bottom) and two 30″ x 40″ backdrops will create a 40″ x 60″!

One of the greatest things about the plates is you can play around with them and create different patterns. Here are some backdrops from this past year…

We exchanged the bottom row of sky blue plates from Jack and the Beanstalk to create…

…the green landscape for Noah’s Ark.

Oink! REE-Launch Party

We added striped paper squares to the center of the white plates from the Oink! REE-Launch Party

…to create our Pucker Up for Your Sweetie! backdrop.

The Glow in the Dark Collection

The lime green plates from our Glow in the Dark backdrop…

…turned into stripes when replaced them with purple and orange rows for our Lil’ Witches Halloween party!

Piggy Bank Breakdown:

  • 30″ x 40″ Foam Core Board = $10.94
  • Velcro (240″ pkg) = $19.70
  • Paper Plates (20 ct) = $6.01

Tutorial Total = $36.65

The Velcro is a bit of an investment but the next time you need a different backdrop it will only be $6.01! If you build up your stock pile of plates, eventually your backdrops will be free! {Update: If you’re looking for a 40″ x 60″ foam core board, I just found one here for $12.99!}

I can’t wait to show you a few more tricks I have up my sleeve this year. I hope you’re inspired to create a Paper Plate Backdrop of your very own!

P.S. A big thank you to J for helping this lil’ piggy out by taking all of the tutorial photos and writing out the steps. I, of course, changed his wording so non-engineers could understand it! {giggle}

XXX

XXX

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