I have a problem. If I had to diagnose it, I’d call it I-can-never-find-premade-holiday-decorations-that-are-not-tacky-so-I-HAVE-to-make-them-osis. I think most everyone else would just call that OCD.
That diagnosis is also only 80% true – 10% of my decorations are brand new, store bought items that I run myself ragged trying to find and the other 10% are thrifted pieces that every time I buy I can hear my husband as a little voice in my head saying, “don’t we have enough Christmas decorations?” No, sweetheart, and we never will. 🙂
Independence Day happens to be one of those holidays were literally every store bought decoration is just caked with glitter. (No, Smash Mouth, all that glitters is NOT gold.) I do have a handful of 4th of July decorations that I’ve picked up after HOURS of slaving over a hot PC, using my horrible Google-fu to come up with 100 different versions of “patriotic decor” and Hobby Lobby has a decent selection of things I would consider to be my style but my house is still lacking the usual amount of holiday spirit.
One of my absolute favorite things to decorate is the hutch at the head of our huge, nine foot farmhouse table. It lets me keep decor on the table simple because I want lots of room for food on my table! For each holiday, I have three corresponding centerpiece plates that get switched out – and the majority of those, I DIYed using the same technique I used for my 4th of July plates.
Why not just buy plates? Because I’m picky and not just any plate will work; when I find something that I fall in love with, I can’t go back and just settle for something else. What did my countless hours of Googling “patriotic decor” find me? The most amazingly perfect plates for my 4th of July hutch…with the most ridiculous price tag. I immediately fell in love with the Stars & Stripes dinner plates by Polish Pottery – but at $34.50 each, um, no. So I took the inspiration from the plates I fell in love with and made my own version for under $1 each!
white dinner plates (I use the $0.88 Mainstays dinner plates found at Walmart)
red and blue Sharpies (I used the dark blue)
circle templates in 7.25″, 6.5″, 5.5″, 4.5″, 3.5″, 2.5″ and 1.5″
star template found here (I printed mine in wallet size)
Starting with the 7.25″ circle, trace all your circle templates in order from largest to smallest, taking care to center each template. Use the blue Sharpie for the 7.25″ circle and the red for all the remaining circles.
Color in your center circles using the red Sharpie. You’ll want to color in the sections between circles 6.5″ and 5.5″, 4.5″ and 3.5″ and 2.5″ and 1.5″. (See photo above.)
Using the blue Sharpie, trace as many stars as you’d like around the outer edge of your plate. I just eyeballed the space between mine and ended up with 12 stars total. Color in the outer edge. For me, I could not get my blue Sharpie to go on smoothly, so if you look closely, you can see streaks through the blue – but when they’re in the hutch, you can’t even tell.
If you have any stray marks from your Sharpies, less than perfect lines or you totally screwed up a portion of your plate, fear not! Wet a cotton ball or swab with a little rubbing alcohol and easily wipe away any unwanted Sharpie and start over.
As a last optional step, I retraced all the lines of each star without the template. This gives the stars a nice, sharp edge. I highly recommend taking the extra time to do this step because 1) the lines are REALLY hard to get perfect between tracing, coloring in the border and then using rubbing alcohol to clean up and 2) it will be almost impossible (and extremely time consuming) to try and use a cotton swab to make those lines super crisp.
I like to wait 24 hours before baking my plates to let the ink really dry. (The range seems to vary from tutorial to tutorial, so if you’re concerned you can let the plates dry up to 72 hours.) After the drying time, place your plates in an unheated oven and set it to 350 F. Bake your plates for 30 minutes (again, the time varies here in different tutorials up to an hour), shut off the heat and let your plates cool in the oven. At this point, the design on your plates should be permanent and will withstand handwashing. Personally, I have NEVER washed my plates because they are purely decorative, so I can’t tell you my experience with washing.
Like I said, I have different versions of Sharpie plates for almost every holiday; they add such a nice touch and people always comment on them. For under $1 each, you really can’t go wrong!
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