Running with the Royals

running with the royalsA princess or prince to pal around with? Check! Gleaming castle with banners flying? Check! Bejeweled crown to wear upon thy head?

crownCheck! You’re ready to run with the royals!

We read Princess Me, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Christa Unzner (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007). This sweet rhyming book describes all the qualities of “Princess Me,” a kind, gentle, mannerly, and just princess who benevolently reigns over her land of toys and dolls. The twist comes at the end, after the princess is tucked into bed with a kiss from the king and queen. That’s when we learn that Princess Me is, in fact, Princess You!

You’ll need:

First, use the box cutter to cut a drawbridge out of the front of the box. Make sure, however, that the door’s “hinge” remains attached to the bottom of the box.

drawbridge step 1Next, hot glue a rectangle of tagboard to the outside of the door.

drawbridge step 2The tagboard will give the drawbridge some some heft and weight as it opens and shuts.

drawbridge step 3Use scissors to cut the paper towel tube “towers” to the desired height for your castle  (my tubes were 7″ tall). Now decorate the tubes and your castle with metallic paper, construction paper, aluminum foil, mirror board, foil seals – whatever you like! When you’re finished decorating, hot glue the towers to the sides of the castle.

Wrap a piece of patterned paper around the top of each coffee stirrer, then secure with glue or tape. Trim one edge to create a banner-style flag.

bannersIf you’re looking for an easier flag to assemble, use colored masking tape to make a banner flag (as seen from this mini circus tent project).

circus tent exampleTo make “turrets” for your castle towers, snip the top off a cone water cup like so:

flag stepsThen drop the flag’s pole into the top of the cup. Center it, then wrap it with tape to attach it to the cone cup. Repeat with the other cup and flag.

taped flagpoleHot glue the turrets to the tops of the castle towers. Ta da! Your castle is complete!

castleTo make your princess or prince, wrap the top of a toilet paper tube with multicultural construction paper, then use markers to draw a face. Wrap the remainder of the tube with a piece of patterned paper and add a fancy collar if you like. Attach construction paper hair and a gold poster board crown. This project definitely cried out for jewels (i.e. rhinestones), which we attached to the crown (and castle) with hot glue.

princessNow it’s time for your crown! Cut a crown pattern out of a large rectangle of gold poster board, wrap around your head, remove, then staple. Decorate your crown with the remaining art supplies on the table. We encouraged kids to have their crowns somewhat match their tube counterparts. Finished!

crown and friendNeed a little entertainment at your castle? Perhaps this post would be of some assistance!

Cinderella Story: Make a Princess Dress

two princessesThis winter, I posted a sneak peek of a Cinderella dress created by local high school junior, Vicky Gebert. The dress was constructed of bubble wrap, trashcan liners, drinking straws, t-shirt bags, forks, plastic blue lace print, Styrofoam, and chicken wire. It looked utterly amazing.

dress on stairsVicky’s dress was the centerpiece of a Cinderella Story: Make a Princess Dress program our library hosted last weekend. Kids were invited to channel their inner godmothers and create a dress out of art supplies (including supplies you might not immediately consider when planning a grand night out).

If you can’t wait to see some of the creative dresses, scroll past the instructions and let the fashion show begin. Otherwise, here are instructions for building your own princess dress!

For the dress base, you’ll need:

  • A 11″ x 28″ piece of poster board for the bodice
  • A 4″ x 28″ pieces of poster board for the skirt sash
  • 4′ piece of ribbon for the bodice
  • 2′ piece of ribbon for the skirt sash
  • 2, 20″ pieces of tulle ribbon for shoulder straps
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch

I used black poster board to make the example dress (it shows up better in photos), but for the actual program, the bodice and skirt sash were made of white poster board. Definitely use the thicker variety of poster board (i.e. 6-ply) because it’ll hold up to all the art supplies you’ll be adding later. I also used 3/8″ white ribbon. It was easier to lace that particular width of ribbon through the punched holes without tearing the poster board. The tulle ribbon I used was 3″ wide to allow easier threading as well.

The Nearly New Shop, a local thrift and consignment store, was kind enough to loan us a dress mannequin for the program. It really helped to have the dress base on display so grown-ups could see what the final product should look like.

OK, ready to get started? First, wrap the largest piece of poster board around your upper body until both ends almost touch behind your back. Trim with scissors if the bodice is too long, cuts into your armpits, or if you want to create an unusual neckline.

Use a hole punch to make 5 matching pairs of holes down the back of the bodice
(our holes are marked with white rings in the photo so you can see them better).

bodice lacingStarting at the top of the bodice, lace the 4’ piece of ribbon through the holes. Tie
a bow at the bottom.

bodiceNext, wrap the smaller piece of poster board around your waist until both ends almost touch. Use the hole punch to create 2 pairs of holes.

skirt sash holesLace the 2’ piece of ribbon through the holes. Tie a bow.

skirt sashLastly, your shoulder straps! Slip on the bodice and adjust it to the right height on your chest. Punch a hole in the front of your bodice, directly underneath your shoulder. Punch a matching hole in the back. Thread a 20″ piece of tulle ribbon through the hole in the front and knot securely. Pull the tulle ribbon over your shoulder and thread through the hole in the back. Knot tightly and cut off any excess. Repeat on the other side. The finished straps should look like this:

strapsYour dress base is complete!

finishedNow that you know your dress fits, I recommend unlacing the bodice and the skirt sash and laying them flat for decorating. This is especially useful for the skirt sash. It’s easier to make a huge fluffy skirt on a flat surface than a curved surface.

Here are the art supplies we used at the program:

What can I say? We had a tremendous time! The kids not only made dresses, but matching crowns, wands, accessories, hairpieces, and jewelry. It was wonderful.

ringAnd here’s the inspiration for the program, artist Vicky Gebert! Vicky answered questions about her dress, crafted with kids, and generally lent her awesome creative magic to the program.

vickyWe were also joined by two Princeton University student groups – the Sustainable Fashion Initiative and the Stella Art Club. They were incredibly creative and incredibly sweet with the kids.

design 1 And now…some of those fantastic, fabulous, and fanciful dresses! Fanfare please…

dress 1dress 9 dress 12 dress 3dress 10 dress 2 dress 20dress 16 dress 19 dress 18 dress 17dress 13 dress 14 dress 11 dress 8 dress 7 dress 6dress 4 dress 5

Sneak Peek: Cinderella Story

dress on stairsCinderella’s fairy godmother managed to do wonders with rags, rats, mice, lizards and a pumpkin. Local high school artist Vicky Gebert produced something just as miraculous with plastic bags, forks, chicken wire, bubble wrap, and drinking straws!

bodiceWorking over the course of 25 hours, Vicky used wire cutters, hot glue, and scissors to sculpt the dress into existence. In total, she used 5 feet of bubble wrap, 30 trashcan liners, 60 straws, 100 t-shirt bags, 25 forks, 25 feet of plastic blue lace print, 1 Styrofoam box, and 5 feet of chicken wire.

This dress is the centerpiece of a “Cinderella Story” program we’ll be hosting in April. A slew of young stylists (ages 3 – 10) will design and model their own dresses constructed of different materials. In addition to exhibiting her creation, Vicky will be on hand at the program to answer questions and lend her “fairy godmother” artistic talents. I’ll definitely post pictures in April. But I couldn’t resist a little sneak peek today…

dress in archPhotos by Minjie Chen