Out-of-This-World Outer Space Backdrop for Your Party

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Outer Space Backdrop

This 3-D planet backdrop DIY was inspired by Briana L's Outer Space 5th Birthday. If you are planning an outer space party yourself, how great would this look behind your dessert table? 

And teachers: This backdrop would also work well in a school setting, as a classroom display against a dark bulletin board.

What you'll need

  • About 6 feet of deep blue, black, or "space" patterned fabric
  • Assorted styrofoam (a.k.a. polystyrene) balls
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Construction (or scrapbooking) paper in oranges and yellows
  • Scissors
  • Clear fishing line (or wire, thread, etc.)
  • Pins, staples, and/or tape
  • White glue
  • · Variant: Acrylic paints (Must be solvent-free; ask for help at the paint counter)
  • · Variant: Either a paint tray (if you have a large amount of paint) and/or paint brushes or sponges
  • · Variant: White glue with fabric and/or colored plastic wrap (to cover "planets")
  • · Variant: Aluminum foil (to cover "planets" and/or stars)
  • Optional: Styrofoam rings (sized so that the balls fit snugly within)
  • Optional: Glitter or glitter-glue
  • Optional: Paper clips

How to make it

  1. Out-of-This-World Outer Space Backdrop for Your Party

    Cut your fabric into two 3-foot long pieces to create a square of fabric.  Pin, tape, or staple the fabric to your wall behind your dessert table (no sewing necessary).  

  2. Next, it's time to color your "planets."  There are several possible approaches.  The main caveat is to avoid using a solvent-based paint, which may dissolve the styrofoam.  

    Here are several methods that you can use:

  3. To color the balls with spray paint, arrange newspapers, cardboard, or other drop cloth outside, in a non-windy area. Following the manufacturer's directions, spray each ball, making sure to cover it evenly. (Avoid getting over-spray on your clothing!)

  4. To use liquid paints, paint each ball with foam or bristled paintbrushes or dab on the paint using a sponge.

  5. Instead of using paint, you can save money and use white glue and food coloring to color the planets!  Pour 1-2 tablespoons of white glue into a mixing bowl.  Add a few drops of food coloring, and stir to mix.  Using a bamboo skewer (or while wearing waterproof gloves), roll the styrofoam ball around in the mixture until it is well-coated with the color.  Rinse the bowl, and repeat with additional colors as many times as you like.  

  6. Or you could wrap the planets in foil, colored plastic wrap, and/or glued-on strips of fabric.

  7. Once colored, stick a bamboo skewer through the ball until the skewer protrudes on both sides. Then, lay the ball over a loaf pan or shoe box with the skewer holding the ball up on each side of the pan or box.  

    Let dry as needed, preferably overnight.  

  8. If you want to have multiple colors on a single "planet," start with the lighter colors, let the "planet" dry (at least partially), then add darker colors however you like: in a pan, with a brush, dabbed on with a sponge, or sprayed on.

  9. If you'd like, sprinkle glitter on the still-wet "planets," or apply glitter glue later.  

  10. To make a ring around a planet, color your styrofoam rings as described above, in a complementary color to the planet's.  Once dry, push the ball inside the ring.  

    If the ball isn't held firmly on its own, push three bamboo skewers into the "planet" in a line, lay the ring on them, and then break off any extra length to the skewer.

  11. Out-of-This-World Outer Space Backdrop for Your Party

    With scissors, cut out large yellow stars from the construction (or scrapbooking) paper.  Then, glue smaller, orange stars within them, as shown.  

    Foil can also be cut into star shapes or used to wrap cardboard, posterboard, or cereal-box "star" cut-outs.

    A little spaceship would be fun, too!

  12. Arrange your "stars" on the fabric background, affixing them with pins, staples, glue, or tape.

  13. Out-of-This-World Outer Space Backdrop for Your Party

    There are two different ways to suspend your planets:

         1. The first is to tie a generously long string of fishing line (or wire or thread) in a loop around the planets. Using a skewer (or blunt knife), create a narrow groove for the fishing line to fit into.  

         2. Alternately, you could bend a paper clip into a "U" shape (the ends can be left uneven). Stick the ends of the paper clip into the styrofoam ball, leaving a small, protruding loop, insert the fishing line into the paperclip loop, and tie firmly.

  14. Using pins, staples, or tape, affix the end of each planet to the ceiling, in a dramatic arrangement against your backdrop. 

  15. Out-of-This-World Outer Space Backdrop for Your Party

    Enjoy your out-of-this-world party!

    Photo credit: Briana L.

    Read more of Jillian's blog at Catch My Party!

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