Friday, May 2, 2014

My Vow to DIY An Upcyced Photo Booth After the Big Day

Did you know I work at weddings?  Surprise!  That's right.  I am a wedding assistant.
It's a job with many perks one of them being a insider look at The Big Day.
Can you imagine seeing people at their most stressed and (hopefully) most happy moment week after week?
Like I said, it's definitely an insider look.
Writers like that sort of thing, collecting snap shots of humanity, personality, quotes.  I get excited just reflecting on it.
But much as I would love to share some of those moments, I won't.  Not till I think it all out and make it tasteful and worthy of the vows these couples are taking.

I would like to talk a moment about things.  Talking about things is much safer than talking about people.

I have been surprised by how many things are created, labored over, displayed and then forgotten after the couple leaves.  Bows, petals, candles, ribbon.

It makes me cringe a little, being dedicated to recycling and up-cycling what I can.  I have a business idea swirling around in my head to help fix this conundrum, but for now I just whisk what I can aside or out of a trash can and try to find it a home or suitable purpose.

My reputation is spreading. I thought my diverting these items from landfill doom was discrete, but when I arrived to a wedding on April 12th, my coordinator said, if you want those flower balls, the bride doesn't want them after today, so you can have them or sell them or whatever.

Let's call these flower orbs, so that I might sound more lady-like for the remainder of this piece.
They are huge Styrofoam balls impaled with assorted creamy white flowers.  And when I looked outside to see if I did want the flower orbs, I saw them being blown about by the wind.  They looked like the tumble weeds of heaven.

Though I had no idea how I could use them nor do I want to begin a life as a flower orb hoarder, I agreed.  I was convinced I could sell them or give them away somehow.
I started to doubt this when I loaded up two industrial sized trash bags with flower orbs.

And a few weeks ago, I got a perfect opportunity to use them.

I had pitched an idea for the Shop 'Til You Drop fundraiser for The Covering House months earlier that we should have a photo booth at the event to capture pictures to promote at later times and to help boost the non-profits visibility on the Internet, specifically social media.

The only difficulty is, I don't know how to make a photo booth.  Also, I didn't want to spend a lot of money.

At some point, my creative spirit was stirred up and I thought...what about all of those wedding decorations? (By all I mean the orbs along with the isle runner I had snapped up and donated to my school's creativity
closet, where it lay untouched.)

These were my materials:
a tension rod (which I found somewhere)
isle runner material
fishing line
flower orbs
hot glue
a sharp object (mine was a stick)
duck tape
2 3M hooks (new)

Unlike photo booths I have seen in the past, I wanted the clothes of the event to be the thing that popped so my creamy neutrally colored materials were perfect.

First, with the help of my friend Natalie, I hung 2 hooks on the wall.  (If this is your space, use nails, hooks, etc, but we were borrowing it and needed to do no harm to the walls.) Wait an hour for the hooks to adhere/ set and do other things.

I decided to make the backdrop out of the runner to help give a clean look and absorb possible glares.

I used hot glue to create a pocket and cut the panel to be ridiculously long so it could be trimmed later.  I made and used 2 panels.
Then I ran the curtain rod through them.


Now for the orbs.  

This is one of the smaller of the spheres.  
To prepare them for hanging, I found a sharp object and plunged it through the center.  This took some doing.  The Styrofoam was much more dense than I had anticipated and it's a ball so it was rolling all over the place.  It felt a little violent jamming a sharp stick into what I know is not living but...I didn't document this step.  Because it felt icky.  
P.S. If you are making a flower orb and then hanging it, good luck to you.  You are a dedicated person.  Tell yourself that when you are about to give up.

After I made the hole, I sent another long dowel rod through the hole after having attached some fishing line.  I had to duck tape the fishing line to the rod and then pull it through.

Finally, I attached the line to a pencil by tying it 3 times and then taping it.  On numerous projects I have had this nylon thread undo its knots, and I needed it to stay hanging for more than a day.
Slipping?  Not on my watch.

I can't say that this part was pretty, but you can easily cover it up.

Think function not form on this step. 

And then cover up your unsightly but stable pencil/ stick/ ruler/ paint stick/ lollipop (anything that is longer than it is wide).

Repeat until you question if this is worth the time you're investing.  
Also watch something that will keep you rooted to your job and distract you a bit but not capture your total attention, because you could stab yourself.  I tried out The Good Wife.  It worked for me.

Make sure your line is again ridiculously long.  
I made this without knowing the space well, so I needed to make sure I had slack.

I was very fortunate that I had pipes overhead at the space.  I flung the threads over the pipes, (nice and sturdy!!) and then created a huge loop attaching it at the bottom of that dreaded unsightly pencil. 
It stayed put.

If you don't have conveniently placed pipes, use hooks, nails, or 3M hooks (buy ones that are made for the weight you need).  

My trooper of a friend Natalie helped me with loops, holding the ladder, and gave moral support as well as manufactured opinions about orb placement.
By the time we were nearing the end neither of us cared about the appearance anymore.

But this is what it looked like in construction.

I can't say it enough: it's important to have helpers...  
to give you that look that keeps you going and to be there smiling with you when the job is done.  

*Point of fact, my cat wanted me to stop and was trying to thwart and halt all photo booth production as it was cutting into our hide and seek and fetch times together.  But that doesn't sound as poetic and hopeful as I like to be in an ending sentence.