Pom-Pom's are a terrific way to add fun colour to your reception. If you're crafty (or not) and are willing to get your hands dirty, this one's for you. This is something you don't want to be doing the week of though.
As I have mentioned before, I am coordinating and helping with the design for my little brothers wedding coming up here in just 2 short weeks.
A few Weekends ago, my Mom, and partner in crime for the wedding decor, spent some time putting mock tables and accessory layouts together. As we were coming in from a walk after all our projects were done for the day, my mom says,"I have decided not to add another project to our already big list of things to do." Of course, not two hours later did we come across these wonderful pom-pom's (pictured right)! So what do two crazy girls do with an idea? The very next day we gathered supplies and started dying 1,400 mini coffee filters a variety of lavender hues. We started at 3pm and she left after midnight. So much for not adding another project! I'd like to add that my mom has dyed over 3,000 more coffee filters on top of the original 1,400. When we get a bug in our bonnets we're all about business.
On to the actual project and our experience. The original idea came from a small photo (again, pictured right) from the last months issue of the Martha Stewart Weddings. When we originally spied the photo we naturally assumed they were made from coffee filters. As we figured we could get the general idea ourselves, we tried looking up a how-to on the subject with not much luck. So we did what we do best and made it up.
Come to find out that the pom-pom's in the photo that we so fell in love with were not made up of coffee filters after all! They were made up of tissue paper. I honestly cannot imagine making 3-5,000 tissue paper versions of this so I'm still all for our method. Here is the Martha Stewart Tissue Paper Pom-Pom How-To though if you're interested.
The only helpful coffee filter pom-pom method we found was by Pam Garrison (see photo below) and even then she didn't really post a how-to either, but the close-up shots helped a little. It's not that complicated of a craft. We were mostly wanting to know the best route to dying, drying and how to best assemble them.
We are making pom-pom's for two 20 x 40 foot tents so yes, we needed quite a few strings. Initially, we decide to dye them outdoors in a big canning pot on a sunny day (my mom in the photo below). Laying them out on sheets seemed the best route....until the sun died out and the wind picked up. Tired of the grunt work and the slow process, I decided to try throwing the half-dried batches in sets into the dryer (a bit nervous I'd end up with a purple dryer or set the house on fire) and it worked perfectly! WOW did this speed up the process. I would like to highlight here that the 'dryer method' actually made the post-scrunching method a TON easier down the line. So take note on that.
Dye the coffee filters in the washing machine (you need HOT water for a good dye process). Don't worry, it won't kill your washing machine. Sounds scary at first.
Wring out the filters. They're tough so be rough on them, it's OK. Wring and toss them in a big pot. Un-wring them and lay them out in piles (see photo above) and put them in to the dryer in shifts (don't put too many at a time in) on the lowest heat setting possible. You can dry quite a few at a time, but they do fluff up so beware of too many. Try 5 minutes and test how dry they are to figure out your dryer time in line with the heat of your dryer. DO NOT dry them too long. They start crinkling up. You only want a slight crinkle.
After the dryer we found it best to stack them according to general shades (hues): dark, medium, light. My mom organized them into brown shopping bags (recycled). This was the easiest way to transport them.
Tips: To get darker hues you need extra dye, fresh [very] hot water and let them soak at least 10-15 minutes. Also, use rubber cleaning gloves (elbow gloves). They make it easier to separate the filters from the original pack into the dye vat as well as protect your hands from dye while handling them out of the dye vat.
As an additional note on dyes - we discovered you can use anything to dye the filters as they aren't going to be clothing worn and washed, etc. So things you can use are kool aid, cloth dye or vegetable dyes. We chose to use regular, hardy cloth dye assuming that kool aid would be too much of a hassle and take too much to get any dark colours anyhow. Just something to consider when choosing a dye.
You must string the pom-pom's before scrunching them. Trust me.
Supplies: x-acto blade, cutting board (whatever protection you want under the x-acto cutting area), stapler (tip: use the old school-house style black stapler because the necks are longer), staples and a strong heavyweight string (see image of what we used - we bought ours at a hardware store, not a craft store).
If you can, get a lot of help for this project. My mom and I were basically the only two people doing this and it would have been nicer with a group. Turn on a movie and get some manual labor done. If you have the wo-man power, delegate accordingly...
One person should stack. For ours we found that 10 filters worked best. We also incorporated undyed white filters. We used two (750 count) packs of white along with the 3,000+ dyed filters, it cut down a bit of work. This is where your organized bags by hue work out nicely. We had dark, medium, light and white. Figure out a pattern, go with it.
One person staples. Two staples about 1/4" apart in the center-most spot. If you don't get some dead-center, don't stress it. They're going to be scrunched up.
One person cuts. Using the x-acto blade, cut a line about the length of the staples, right in-beween them, in the same direction. Cut, and make sure it's punctured clear through the stacks.
One person strings. We made lengths of about 6-feet with our string. Roughly measured from nose to arm four times. We didn't get technical with our 20 x 40 foot tent size and measure out exactly how many will work for that length. We just figured we will make a ton and make it work. If you want to pre-figure all that out, go for it. I would STILL only make your lengths 6-10 feet long as you can connect them while actually decorating and it's easier for untangling and transportation.
Stringing works like this: Start about 12-inches in and make a loop knot (if you are not familiar, see the section image above). Thread the flat pom-pom on, do another loop knot. Space them approximately 12-inches apart or whatever you decide works for your design.
If the person knotting is making large loop knots, maybe make your 6-foot lengths a little longer to accommodate that or don't worry about it. The loops WILL be covered up by the scrunching. We could fit 5-6 pom-pom's per string length.
This works ideally if you have people willing to help. We only had the two of us. We also found it best if you do all the above prep before scrunching. Then we could dole out piles of stuff to scrunch during TV or movie watching during the week or you could throw a big scrunching party.
No, you're not done yet, but you're in the final round.
Scrunching is easy and even fumbly hands can do this. We recruited my Dad, who is a mechanic to help! Just start with the center and scrunch it like you're making pie crust in a pinching method all the way around, only a little abstract and rougher. The filters are very durable if you can't tell by now. Then start with the next layer and so forth. You'll get the hang of it. After one ball of layers, kind of fluff and scrunch the entire ball as a whole to get it looking right. Don't try to simple scrunch the ball as a whole from the start, it won't work - DO EACH LAYER.
This is where the dryer method worked to our benefit. We found that the filters we had dried on the lawn, were smoother and more resistant to scrunching than the dryer ones that had got some extra crinkle from the dryer. Just trust me.
THAT'S IT! We stored ours in garbage bags. Be a little careful with how you pile them in as the strings are a headache to untangle if you're careless.
I will do an additional post after the wedding to show you our final product and my ingenious idea on how to smartly get all the tent decor up without a hassle and a lot of neck-craning. I will tell you that it involves using a hoola-hoop.
While looking for the pom-pom how-to with coffee filters, I came across this one using Tulle or Netting by MarthaStewartWeddings.com.
Or for a twist, do hanging paper flowers instead (also by MarthaStewartWeddings.com). These were made from paper bags! Although, as a reader commented on this post, you can use any type of paper to make these work. Hmm Printed paper anyone? They would be fun to make in an assortment of patterns and colours.
Here's one that appears to be more of a household decor idea, but you could do many things with it to develop it into a wedding decor project. Large hanging flowers out of recycled magazine by Creature Comforts.typepad.com