"Trick or Treat" Halloween Garland

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About: I'm a designer, writer, and artist based in upstate NY.

You only need a little time and a few common supplies to make a striking Halloween decoration. You probably have most of the things to make this festive craft in your home already.

Supplies:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Thin cardboard (think cereal box)
  • Access to a computer + printer / printer paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Dish soap
  • Plastic straw
  • Paintbrush
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • X-acto/craft knife
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors

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Step 1: Prepare Your Paper

I wanted to try something new when it came to the design of each letters, so before I started cutting out letters, I decided to paint the paper with a fun technique.

Pour some dish soap into your container. I didn't measure, I just eyeballed it -- I probably used about 1/4 cup if I had to guess. Then squirt some acrylic paint on top of the soap. Again, I didn't measure. The more you use, though, the more saturated the color will be. Then put about 1/2 cup water in your container and mix it all up with a paintbrush. Grab your plastic straw, put it below the water line, and blow air through it. (IMPORTANT: Make sure you do not suck in soapy/paint water!) After colored bubbles form, take the straw out and put your watercolor paper face side down onto the bubbles. The colored bubbles make this really cool pattern on the paper. Set aside and let the paper air dry.

I used two sheets of watercolor paper just to make sure I had enough.

Step 2: Cut Out Letters

If I had one of those fancy Cricut paper cutting machines, this step would have been a lot easier. But, alas, I do not.

Open up Microsoft Word (or Google Docs or whatever you use) and type out "TRICKOEA." (This is just so you don't have to waste ink or time in cutting out multiple letters.) Highlight it all and pick a size and font you like. I chose one where it was outlines of the letters so I didn't have to waste a lot of ink. Print out the words and cut them out with scissors. Of course, you could also just skip this step and freehand draw/cut out the letters.

Find a cereal box or a popcorn box (thin cardboard) and open it up so it's flat. Trace out three T's, three R's, one I, one C, one K, one O, one E, and one A. Cut them out with a pair of scissors.

Step 3: Cut Out Letters, Cont.

Now trace the cardboard letters onto the now dry painted watercolor paper. I tried to find the most interesting parts of the paper with a lot of color. Cut those out.

I plan on using whatever painted watercolor paper for gift tags or small notes so it won't go to waste.

Step 4: Glue Paper to Cardboard

So now you should have a set of cardboard letters and a set of watercolor paper letters. Using a glue stick, glue the watercolor paper letters onto the cardboard letters. Let dry.

Step 5: String the Letters

Next, poke two small holes at the top of each letter with an X-acto knife. If I had a small hole punch, I would have probably used that for this step, but this worked out just as well.

Thread an embroidery needle with some embroidery thread and thread through each letter, making sure you go through the front first. This is so the thread will be behind each letter.

I strung my letters on three separate strings by word, but you could also string all of the letters on one string.

Step 6: Finished

Now all that's left to do is hang up your garland. I love how mine turned out. I especially love how the red paint looks -- it's unique and spooky.

I think this would be super cute with really large letters on a front door, or on a wall as a Halloween party decoration. You could cut out all kinds of different phrases, and, of course, it isn't just limited to Halloween. This idea would be great for birthdays or other holidays as well. The possibilities are endless. Happy Halloween!

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