I’m a big fan of my Alma mater, Washburn University. But I might be an even bigger fan of Campus Ministry at Washburn (also called Ichtus), where I serve on the advisory board. The students I see there are so inspiring in their creativity, wisdom, and faith, and it is such a pleasure to spend time with them in Bible study, sharing a meal, and just hanging out. This weekend was our annual fundraiser, the Hornet-Ichabod Challenge. Each year, (well, every year since last year) we get together with our Emporia State University counterparts to provide an evening of BBQ, worship, and entertainment to our generous supporters. This year I volunteered to decorate some of the tables, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to fit them into my blog.
Since WU’s mascot is the Ichabod (a very snazzy figure in a top hat, bow tie, and tails), I decided to make top hat centerpieces for all the Washburn tables. Top hats, I realized, would be great centerpieces since they are not too tall to see over, yet whimsical enough to add a bit of fun. This also fit in with the event’s “movie” theme and venue, the beautifully-restored Granada Theater in Emporia, Kansas.
To create bases for the hats, I pulled several items from my recycing bin. For seven top hats I used:
- two cylindrical oatmeal boxes cut in half (to make two hats per box)
- two one-gallon vinegar jugs with the tops cut off
- one 2-liter bottle with top cut off, reinforced with cardboard from a cereal box.
Other supplies I needed were:
- a large black poly-satin fabric remnant (about 2 yards)
- 7 black foam craft sheets
- tacky craft glue and hot glue
- ribbons, feathers, and metallic sprigs for a glamorous touch.
First, I made the “stovepipe” of the top hats out of the recycled containers. I cut the fabric to fit each container long enough to go all the way around and overlap just a bit, and wide enough to cover the entire outside and inside of the cylinders. I did not want any oatmeal box or plastic jug showing through, except on the bottoms which would be glued to the brims. (The closed ends on the containers were to be the bottom of the hats so the hats would be open on top.) I spread the craft glue all over the containers, inside and out, and stretched the fabric to cover everything. This was actually the hardest part, since it was difficult to get the fabric to lay smoothly without any bumps or bubbles underneath. I folded the fabric under at the edge to make a smooth seam and glued it down.
Next came the embellishments. I chose organza ribbon and feathers in a bright blue to honor (yet glam up) the school colors, black ribbon with white stitching (because it kind of looked like movie film, though I doubt anyone noticed), and some silver metallic sprigs to add a little “bling, bling!” I wrapped the sheer organza ribbon around the stovepipes twice to reinforce the color and glued it down with just a couple of hot glue dots. It was important to use the hot glue sparingly, because it shows through the ribbon so much and could also melt the plastic containers. Then I layered the thinner black ribbon on top of the blue ribbon. I hot-glued a few silver strands in a bunch on one side of the hats, fanning them out in a spray. The feathers came next, centered on top of the silver strands. The last embellishments were flat bows made from the blue and black ribbons. I glued the bows on top of the feathers for a finishing touch.
Finally, I hot-glued the ovals to the bottoms of the decorated stovepipes. Then I gently folded the sides of the ovals (just under the embellishments) to shape them into a curved brim and glued them in place.
Now all I needed was something to put inside the centerpieces. The campus minister had plenty of promotional items to use as party favors (flash drives, stress balls shaped like brains, and I LOVE WU buttons), so I placed enough for each table in each hat. Then I filled the hats the rest of the way with silver-wrapped candies (peppermint patties and chocolate kisses) for a little sparkle and sweetness.
I was so pleased with how the top hats turned out that I couldn’t wait for the event! They had required a little more work than I thought they would, but the effort was well worth it. I got a lot of positive feedback, and it sounds like the top hats will be used for future events.
But of course, the real stars of the evening were the students. They represented the ministry so well, and one of them wrote a song so witty I almost cried from laughing so hard. Gosh, I just love a good party!
Next week, I’ll write about…hmmm…not sure what to write about. Something about recycling after Easter, maybe? Any ideas?
And just for fun, here’s a link to the title scene from the 1935 movie, Top Hat. Enjoy!