I know that this blog is about home and hospitality. But I am going to stretch that a little to include an aspect of parenting which causes anxiety and distress for some but energizes and brings out the theatrical in others: the school project. There is no need to be intimidated. You are not building something that needs to last, in my case, longer than two hours. Hot glue, paper clips, duct tape, and staples are your friends. It is not going in your home. You are not offering it as a product to sell. So, for all you perfectionists out there, just remember what a friend told me in college as we were working on costumes for The Music Man: “No one will notice on a trotting horse.”
One of the best things our local public elementary school does is the Fourth Grade Wax Museum. Each child chooses an historical character and becomes that person. He/she must have a costume, backdrop, and prop, as well as a one-minute memorized speech. On the day of the event, the fourth graders set up down the hallways and in the gym, each having a red “button”. All of the other students in the school, along with parents, take turns filing through the museum. When they press the “buttons”, the “wax figures” recite their speeches. In our family, we have done Alexander Hamilton (before he was a Broadway show), Narcissa Whitman, Tecumseh, and Paul Revere. This year’s choice was Queen Elizabeth 1.
A queen needs a throne, so not having anything that fit the bill in the house, I made a stop at Goodwill. Low and behold, I found a $3 chair. (At the register I discovered it was half price. But when I looked at my receipt later, I realized I was charged for it twice. No, I did not go get my $1.50 back. I am not THAT cheap!
The chair had seen better days, obviously, including a hole in the caning. But it had a tall back and arms. As an added bonus, it sat low to the ground, accommodating my pint-sized “queen”. I needed fabric to cover the torn seat and also for my girl’s costume. For about $15 total, Goodwill came through again. Luckily for me, many of those lush and embellished gold and gem-toned curtains from the 90’s and early 2000’s now reside at thrift stores!
Even though I had purged a lot from my Makery (studio), there was still a stash of trims, pearls, and some curtain rod finials. Along with two valances, a second-hand pillow, and gold craft paint, I had all the ingredients necessary for a royal transformation.
Since the chair had good bones and I saw it having another life after the wax museum, I didn’t want to properly upholster it. Instead I simply hot glued the new fabric on so I could easily remove it all for the chair’s next incarnation. This is how I did it.
Tools and Materials
- Drill a hole in the corners of the chair back for finials.
- Paint the new finals plus arms and legs of the chair gold. Don’t worry about multiple coats. It’s supposed to look old.
- Cut the height of the thrift store valance to desired dimension.
- Hot glue valance to seat.
- Use remaining fabric and glue to cover the back of chair.
- Hot glue trim to cushion.
To finish out the scene, my little "queen" and I painted faux stones on the ¼’ plywood back drop recycled from my last fourth grader then stapled Goodwill curtains to it.
“Queen Elizabeth’s” dress did require some sewing skill but not nearly as much as you would imagine. It started with a velvet dress we had in the costume box. Curtains became the skirt and cape while a contrasting valance cut in half became the lower sleeves.
So here is what some of you may be thinking:
'I am never going to do that.'
'I am glad those days are over!'
'I can't wait to do this stuff for the kids in my life.'
'Someone in this house needs to learn to sew.'
'That still looks really hard.'
Well, I can't quell all your anxiety and you may never need to create a throne. But chances are at some point you will have to make costumes, props or sets for some activity at church, school, or in the community. Don’t stress. Remember that hot glue, paper clips, duct tape, and staples are your friends because “No one will notice on a trotting horse.”