Introduction: Make a Giant Back the Blue (or Other Color) Awareness Ribbon
This quick and easy 4-foot (1.2 m) tall blue (or pink, yellow any other color) Awareness Ribbon is a bold, durable way to support the cause of your choice.
Step 1: Back the Blue Awareness Ribbon
Following the July 7, 2016 attack in Dallas that killed five law enforcement officials, so many people wanted to tie a blue ribbon on their homes or cars to show their support that all the fabric stores in town ran out of blue ribbon. Our neighborhood association gathered some together and gave away short pieces, but the small marker just didn’t show up well enough on the large planters in front of our house.
We want to let our first responders know that we stand behind them. So I came up with this quick and easy design for a giant (4-foot plus) metal Back the Blue ribbon out of metal flashing. But since there are awareness ribbons for nearly any cause today, you can support breast cancer (pink), bringing the troops home (yellow), or other causes by just replacing the blue paint with pink, yellow, or another appropriate color.
Wikipedia lists more awareness ribbon colors than I ever heard of, so if you want to support a cause there's probably a ribbon for it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awareness_ribbons
Step 2: Overview & Caution
The idea is to paint a strip of metal flashing, bend it into the shape of an awareness ribbon, attach it where it overlaps, cut the ends at an angle, and add a hanger to hang it on your front porch. Metal flashing is typically used under the eves of houses, or where a weatherproof surface such as roofing meets a surface that’s at risk of rot or leaking, like wooden siding. Luckily, it comes in varying lengths and widths, including, in our area, a 6-inch by 10-foot (6 cm x 3 m) strip.
Flashing is thin metal with very sharp edges. It’s even sharper if you cut it as shown in this Instructable. Wear some good, thick leather or other protective gloves when working with flashing or you are likely to cut yourself. This would not be a good project for unsupervised children, or even some unsupervised adults I know.
Step 3: What You Will Need
1 roll of 6-inch by 10 ft. (about 15 cm x 3 meters) metal flashing
- Gloves – leather or other strong protective gloves
- Metal cutter and/or pliers
- Wire cutters
- Two bolts with nuts
- A hole punch, or a drill with a drill bit sized to fit your nut and bolt
- Scrap wood to drill or punch into
- Blue (or other color for the cause of your choice) paint
- Painter’s tarp or a plastic sheet to paint on
Building supply centers like Home Depot carry 6-inch (15 cm) metal flashing in 10-foot (3 m) rolls for about $6.50. My local store had it in galvanized steel. They also carry some widths in aluminum, which might be even easier to work with, and certainly lighter.
Step 4: Put on Your Gloves! Then Unroll the Flashing.
Lay out your tarp and, WITH GLOVES ON, unroll your flashing.
- Be ready! It will unroll like a spring.
- It will not be nice and smooth—every roll I have seen will have a bend or crease every foot or so. Fortunately, it unbends as easily as it bends, so you can straighten it out by hand. Use your thumbs.
Step 5: Cut the Ends at an Angle
Use your metal cutters to cut the ends at an angle like an awareness ribbon.
- As an alternative to cutting, you could use pliers to bend the metal at an angle.
Step 6: Paint Both Sides
Paint one side, wait for it dry, then paint the other side.
- Drying time will vary depending on the paint you use, the temperature, and the humidity. Read the instructions on the paint can.
Step 7: Fold Into an Awareness Ribbon Shape
When the paint is dry on both sides, bend the metal into the shape of an awareness ribbon.
Step 8: Drill Two Holes Where the Flashing Overlaps
To drill, first punch with a pointed punch or nail to create a starting point. Otherwise the drill is likely to wander, scratching the paint off.
Use a piece of scrap wood as a backer, drill through both pieces. Insert two bolts, add nuts, and tighten.
Step 9: Make the Hanger
The hanger is a piece of wire stretched across two holes equal distance from the top of the ribbon, near the back edge of the metal as shown in the photo.
Mark each location with a punch as before, and drill the two holes.
Step 10: Insert the Hanger
Make a 90-degree bend about an inch from the end of the wire, and insert it into one of the hanger holes.
Lay the wire across to the other hole. In the middle, bend the wire up and back down to create a slot for the hanging nail as show in the photo. Then insert the other end of the wire into the remaining hole and bend another 90-degree elbow.
Hold the ribbon up and make sure it hangs well and the hanging slot is centered. If so, bend the to ends all the way back to the wire to hold it securely.
Step 12: Hang It Up!
Hang the ribbon on a nail or screw on the front of your house and show your support!