We wanted to throw a beautiful, upscale party with an art theme, but there were few ready made decorations. What I could find were mostly for kids' parties. In the end, I made almost all the decorations and what I couldn't make I designed and ordered. The party looked amazing and was a great success. In this instructable I'll tell you what I did to create a magical art themed evening so you can use my ideas for your own special party.
Step 2: Planning, Planning, Planning
We had over 130 guests, which meant a large room and more than a dozen tables to decorate. I had to go bold and have plenty of decorations or they would have been lost in the big space. My basic concept was to make each table an island of color. Each table had an artists paint name like Chromium Green Oxide or Alizarin Crimson. Except for the base color of the table cloth, all the linens, flowers and accents would go with that table only. It was like designing many different little parties, but the end result was stunning.
This amount of detail and handmade decorations take lots of time and lots of planning. Start by deciding what elements you want and work backwards to figure out when you need to start making things. I turned the making of decorations into many weekend projects over about 6 months.
Also, figure out the colors you will use right at the beginning. Label each item you make as you go along.
Step 4: Decide on the Elements You Want
For my art themed fancy party I decided to have:
a solid purple table cloth as the base for each table (rented)
hand painted signs on canvass for all the food and activities
art ballons to add height
an artist's palette candelabra
a drawing station
a candy art machine (rented)
a couple of large hand painted canvass hangings
standing easels with paintings
Each guest table had its own color theme within the larger art theme. Each table had matching color:
hand painted table runners
flower arrangements (yes, every one was different)
color matched candy
paint splat table name signs
palette and brush shaped guest place cards
napkins to match the runners (rented)
Step 6: Table Runners
The runners are crucial to making this theme work. They add a big splash of design and color. Start early on the runners since they take a long time. It's a fun project if you like to paint. (Or just like to make a mess).
First, figure out the size you will need to make the runners. By adding 36" to the length of you table, you will have runners that drape 18" over the edges. I had fairly large tables so I made the width about 2'. Make all the runners the same length for each kind of table. Make all the runners the same width.
Any heavy fabric will work well, but I didn't want to have to sew all the edges and I didn't want it to cost a fortune. I found that white "black out" for curtains was perfect. Easy to cut, wash and paint. (This is the heavy material that hangs between the curtain and the window to block out light. I bought it at Joann's fabrics).
Once I had the pieces cut to size it was time to paint. Use one color of acrylic paint per runner. You can add water or clear acrylic medium to make lighter colors, but don't add anything else. Don't reuse a color for another runner.
How you paint is up to you, but try to use a different design for each runner. This might sound hard, but it's not. One runner might be all circles, while another is stripes, and another is splashed with paint. Paint a border on some. Make some more solid than others. It will all look good in the end!!
When the runners are painted and fully dry wash them in cold water (test one first!). Remember, you'll be eating off of these.
Step 7: Canvass Paintings
I bought a couple of economy packs of artists' canvasses at Michael's (yup, used the coupon) in the 2'-3' range. I also got a bulk pack of wooden tripod easels to display the canvasses at the party.
I used every excuse to paint a canvass: I did one for the kids menu, adult menu, dessert, art station etc.
For each one I drew a simple sketch in pencil directly on the canvass and then just quickly filled in the lines with acrylic paint. These really, really don't need to be works of art since the room will be dim and there will be so many distractions. Think of these paintings as staging.
In addition, I splashed a few canvasses with paint and wrote things like Art and Creativity.
Step 9: Flowers and Candy
Flowers add a beauty and formality to an affair that you really can't get any other way. I found a creative florist who was willing to make one unique arrangement per table to my specifications. When I met with her I brought color samples of each table. We discussed what flowers would be available in those colors. I told her she could add only greenery. Each arrangement went in a square black vase.
Also, I made paint splat signs with the table names. These were printed at home and brought to the florist before the event so she could add them to the arrangements.
I bought 6 clear candy dishes for each table to be arranged around the flowers. I searched out candy for the tables by color. Some colors were easy, like red. Others were really tough. If you get stuck, you can by M & Ms in any color. (They can get pricey, though)
Step 10: Place Cards
Don't leave this till the night before, like we did!
There was a pallet card for each guest at the door to tell them what table they were at. There was a die cut paint brush at each place setting to tell people where to sit.
We printed these (as many as would fit on a page) on colored paper at home. The colors are the same as the tables they go with. We cut them all out by hand, though I bet if you have a die cut machine it will go MUCH faster. Then we handed the palettes, the brushes and a seating chart to the caterer for set up.
Step 11: Candelabra
I made this candelabra out of a real wooden artist's pallet. First I glued three wooden blocks to the underside for stability. Then I glued on tapers with thick globs of Liquid Nails. The liquid nails could take days to dry, so set this up out of the way and use sturdy objects to keep the candles in place.
Note that the candles are all different colors.
Step 12: Art Board
I set out big pieces of white foam core and markers for people to draw on. The boards were on a table with a purple cloth and a canvass sign saying "Art Project".
Step 13: Have a Party
I added a few more things like mylar balloons, which I had printed with a pallet stencil. And candy art which sounds good, but is mostly a mess. And purple uplights, which added more color and ambiance.
Our guests really enjoyed the theme and wandered from table to table to see what the other tables looked like. This had the wonderful added benefit of getting people to mingle and talk.
Please let me know how these ideas worked for you if you try any. Also, I love getting photos of what you've done with my instructables.