Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So You Want to Throw a Diorama Party? Here's How

How does one throw a  diorama party, you ask?
Turns out, a diorama party is actually one of the easier parties I have thrown.
Mostly what you need is a lot of "stuff".
We found a lot of our "stuff" at a this place. (post on it forthcoming.  it's too cool a place not to talk about at length.)
It's a place where you can find jars full of marbles, bottle caps or buttons at 5 cents a scoop.
Rolls of yarn, old record covers, and cardboard in every conceivable shape of size on available to you for pennies.
It's diorama paradise.
We walked out with a bag filled to the brim with "stuff" and I spent only $4.

On the day of the party, you'll want to lay out all your supplies.
I grouped things loosely, and wasn't too uptight about things being beautifully displayed.
(although I had to fight the urge. trust me.)
Because I knew that once artists start to create, keeping everything in pristine order can kill the creative vibe.
Here are some of the supplies we had out for building the dioramas.

Paint, brushes, small pieces of Styrofoam, string, rubber bands, markers, wood glue, tacky glue, rulers, hole punches. and staplers.
There were lots of options for sticking things together.
Besides the wood glue and tacky glue, there was duct tape, masking tape, washi tape, double stick tape and, of utmost importance, a glue gun.
But no elmer's glue.  It takes too long to dry.  Speed is important here.
Then there was a bunch of the "stuff" all jumbled together.
There were buttons, old Christmas ornaments, pictures, floral wire, Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, clothes pins, a few plastic figurines, corks, pipe cleaners, wooden skewers and wooden dowels of different sizes.
A lot of this stuff I found in the house or garage.
You'll be amazed at all the building supplies you have in your house once you start looking.

There was spray paint. 
Of course.
And lots and lots of cardboard.
We had piles of cardboard, colored paper and random printouts of cool things.
Like I said, the set up for a diorama party isn't particularly pretty.
(i'm sure martha could have made it pretty.  but i have neither the staff not the unlimited budget that martha has to make anything , so i had to be cool with piles of cardboard on the ground rather than in perfect, matching containers.)
Another must have for the party is a place to plug in the glue gun.
(having more than one glue gun and lots of extra glue sticks is helpful)
It's also good to have exacto knives and a cutting mat on hand for cutting out of intricate designs.
Tape measures, a power drill, small hand saws, pliers and a screwdriver or 2 are all handy tools to have out, depending on the level of building going on at your party.
(8 year olds might not be needing the power drill.  but you never know.)
Lastly, you'll need lots of room for everyone to spread out.
And then, you step back and watch the magic happen.
Check out these artists at work.

If you're hosting an adult diorama party, you'll want to have your younger guests not be too young.
Otherwise, you'll be spending all your time helping them and not creating your own diorama.
James was the perfect age: old enough to build without assistance and old enough to be engaged by everyone else's projects.

I highly recommend doing this party with younger kids, just know that they'll need more help.
But they will really have a lot of fun.
William and Lilly have been sitting in the driveway making their own dioramas since Sunday and having a blast.
Lilly is nearly 4 and very capable of executing her own ideas with just a bit of help.
Again, much of their enjoyment comes from not micro-managing their projects and letting them spread out and make a mess.
And I think having some examples to inspire them would not be a bad thing.
Don't expect them to copy the examples--that can be a creative killer for a little kid.
Instead, show them all the different kind of magic they can make with a cardboard box and some glue.

It's really fun to see everyone's ideas coming together, but it does take time.
I opted for no end time to this party because I didn't want anyone to feel rushed.
It seemed most people needed a minimum of 3 hours to get their diorama done.
The kids got done more quickly.
Spray paint, string and a cardboard box becomes a chicken coop.

Bottle caps and cardboard become wheels and hubcaps.
This one has a fan in it that actually turns on and spins the people hanging from the top of the box.
The only limit to your diorama is your imagination!

Once everyone finished their diorama, we lined them up for pictures, voting and trophy giveaways.
Next up I'll show you how I made the trophies, and the voting ballots.
The fun doesn't stop!
Love from,


valerie said...

greta, WOW! I have missed your posts! What a fantastic party! Love your turquoise door too!:) Can't wait to hear more about the place you found some of the supplies! Happy Summer! Valerie (

mandi said...

I LOVE this! I love that I thought it was going to be a party for kids, and it wasn't! I never have thought to put together a crafty party for grown-ups. This is just fantastic! Can't wait to see the follow ups!

meg + andy said...

ummm....WOW! What cool people you are and what great memories you made. Can't think of anything more fantastic. Way to go wifey! :)

Jillian in Italy said...

This is by far the coolest party ever organised for a husband. Seriously. It looks like such a great time and so creative.