Birthday Banner

Sofia just had her first birthday, and we celebrated by dressing her in a tutu and smashing a cake. Of course I needed pictures, so I set up a sheet for a plain background. We’ve done this before, for Niko’s one-year-old cake smash and for family photos, and it’s seemed fine. But this time, as I looked at the white sheet draped against the fireplace, it just looked…inadequate.

I was feeling a bit doubtful about the photo shoot, anyway. I’d made Sofie a pretty blue-and-silver tutu and had considered making a matching blue polka-dot cake, but I let Aaron talk me into doing a more girly peach and green cake. I wasn’t sure how the photos would look with two completely different color schemes.

And then, inspiration hit — during my two hours home during Niko’s preschool morning, of course, on the morning of the day I planned to take Sofia’s pictures. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to inspire. What I needed was, of course, a sweet birthday banner pulling three of the colors together. Out came my big pad of  12×12 scrapbook paper. I found three pages that were just right — a soft peachy orange stripe, and two subtly patterned pages in a pretty blue and mossy green.

Then I went to the computer and found a font that could easily be converted to an outline — Marker Felt. I enlarged it to 250 point, changed it from black to empty outline, and printed it out: “ONE YEAR OLD.” If I’d had my craft stuff properly organized, I’d have done this on my Cricut cutter. But printing it and then cutting out the letters worked just fine. After I cut the letters, I cut triangles from the colored paper. I made sure they were identical by folding the paper into quarters, then cutting diagonally. With the font size I chose, this made just the right size of triangles.

Next, I glued the cut-out letters to the triangles, using stick glue so the letters didn’t get bubbles or become warped. I got some pale green narrow satin ribbon out of my box of crazily tangled ribbons (pausing to re-skein and sort them), and measured it against the fireplace wall to make sure I had enough length. I carefully glued the triangles along the ribbon, spaced to make two swags. Then I hung it across the white backdrop. It took a few tries to get it balanced just right, but I managed it… just in time, too, because 11:00 came just as I was tying it off, and I had to leave to go bring Niko home from preschool. The whole project took exactly an hour and a half, and that included nursing Sofie, changing her diaper, and rescuing ribbons and paper triangles repeatedly from her curious fingers.

When I sat Sofie in front of the backdrop with her cake, I felt an exquisite relief: The birthday banner accomplished its hoped-for task of pulling together the disparate colors. It made a bright, cheerful setting for the first-birthday photos. Success!

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