The Quest for a Reusable Halloween Luminary
I love luminaries as a Halloween outdoor decoration . . . but, there are two main problems with luminaries:
- Luminaries are as much work as any art project to make and you need a lot of them to get a good effect.
- October is a notoriously bad month for moisture and luminaries are made out of paper. In my experience the paper gets soggy and so you only get one use out of them.
So, as I see it, in order for me to go to the trouble of making luminaries I was going to have to come up with a streamlined, inexpensive process for making them. As a bonus, it would have a reusable aspect to it. Here’s my solution:
Step 1 : Make a foam stamp by taking a piece of thick craft foam and drawing your design on it with a medium tip ball point pen (think the cheap ones that come in a ten pack). Press hard with the pen to make a good impression on the craft foam. Cut your design out using regular scissors. Use a brayer to role acrylic paint (OK) or printing ink (better) across your design. Complete Tutorial on Foam Printing
Step 2 : Place your inked foam stamp on the inside of a laminating pocket (available in any office supply area, I got mine at Walmart) and press your palm over the entire back surface.
Step 3 : Carefully lift the foam stamp off the laminate and make another imprint if there is room on the laminate for it. Let dry.
Step 4 : Feed the laminating pocket through a lamination machine (I purchased mine for less than $30 at Walmart).
Alternate approach : If you don’t care about reusability, you can print directly onto white paper bags. You can still reuse the stamp next year if you wish.
Below is a comparison of the two approaches when lit with an battery powered votive. On the left you have the laminated sheet tucked and taped inside a white paper bag. On the right, the image has been stamped directly onto the white paper bag.
You will notice that on the left the image is as I drew it because you can place the laminate in either way. When you print on the bag directly you can only get a mirror image, as on the right.
Don’t want to buy a little laminating machine? Though I haven’t tried it, you might try printing onto transparency film as an alternate to laminate and then sealing it with Mod Podge or an Acrylic Sealer.
Things I would have done differently (and since have) :
- I would have made sure the orientation of my design matched the bag (portrait, rather than landscape).
- I would have trimmed my stamp closely to the image I drew rather than in a zig zag pattern. I think it obscures the design and makes it harder to tell it is a pumpkin.
- I would have use printing ink rather than acrylic paint - the acrylic dries really fast and does not spread as easily. You can get the ink at any decent art store - one tube makes a lot of prints.
I will write a more detailed account of my adventures in foam stamping in a future article.
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