I made this paper pinwheel photo backdrop for my friend’s 50th birthday party in May and I’ve been meaning to share it with you for months! I’ve been addicted to making pinwheels for years and years, and I really believe that they add happiness and joy to ANY occasion. I made this in pink because my friend, Marnie, just has this aura of pink around her. And it was a pink-themed party, so there you go! I really wanted to create layers of color, texture, and size. The 18-inch pinwheels are my biggest to date… and 8 months later they are still hanging up and holding their shape!
I didn’t take many “process” photos because I didn’t think I would be writing about this. I don’t know why I didn’t think I would write a blog post, but it really just started as me making some pinwheels for my friend. And then it grew into a whole big thing, and before I knew it I was hanging it up! So I will try and explain the process in detail where there is a lack of photos.
Also, I had to hang this on a stairwell, so I glued clothespins on the pole and hung a white sheet behind. But I’m not going to add that to the tutorial, it’s best if you hang this up on a wall.
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Supplies needed for Paper Pinwheel Photo Backdrop:
I used many different types of paper. I will list all of them, but just know that you can make your own choices and use whatever you have! Although if you make really big pinwheels then you do need a little bit sturdier paper.
~ Sulphite paper for all of the pinwheels that are painted (9 x 12 will give you a max. circumference of 12 inches, 12 x 18 will give you a max. circumference of 18 inches – my biggest pinwheels are 18 inches)
~ Phonebook pages (or newspaper)
~ Gold tempera paint (for accents)
~ Pom-pom makers (optional)
~ Wooden pole (mine is 1-inch closet pole cut to 5.5 feet) or branch (you can paint either of these or leave them natural)
~ Twine, hammer & nails (for hanging)
How to make a Paper Pinwheel Photo Backdrop:
1. Follow this tutorial to make your pinwheels. The sizes are all driven by the size of the paper. If you have 8.5 x 11 paper, then your pinwheel can be a maximum of 11 inches in diameter. For my “medium” pinwheels, which are the ones in the photo above and the smaller white ones in the photo below, I cut a 9 x 12 piece of sulphite paper in half, creating 2 pieces of 6 x 9 sheets. I used four of them to create one pinwheel with a diameter of 9 inches. So really you just want to cut paper into rectangles, and then you need 4 rectangles per pinwheel. All of this will become more clear after reading the tutorial and making one!
2. Make many, many pinwheels. (See photo 2nd from last down below, the one with the pink writing on it, and you can count how many pinwheels I used.)
3. I used gold tempera paint for accents on the colored paper pinwheels. This is totally optional.
4. My teens pitched in to help paint the largets pinwheels as I was running out of steam! Kids of all ages love painting them so definitely recruit the family to help.
5. When you are ready to hang the pinwheels on the rod, lay them out on the floor first in the way you want to hang them. If I did this again, I would use a 6-foot or 7-foot rod, and I would hang the rod higher and make more pinwheels so they hang lower.
6. Punch a hole at the top of each pinwheel. Cut your yarn pieces according to where the pinwheel will fall – longer yarn for those hanging on the bottom, shorter for top, etc.
6. The easiest way to tie the pinwheels to the wooden rod would be to lay the rod on the ground above the pinwheels, tie them on, then pick up the rod (with a partner) and hang it up. For this event, though, I had that pesky sheet so it made more sense to hang the rod and sheet first, and then tie the pinwheels on.
7. To hang the rod, you can either hammer in some nails at the top of the molding of your wall and then tie the string around the rod and the around the nail, or you can actually hang some picture hangers on the wall and tie the string to those. If you are making this permanent, you could even hang curtain rod brackets. This would also make the installation removable – you could reuse the rod for different backdrops.
At the birthday party, there was a polaroid camera for people to use to take photos… this is of me and my husband. Isn’t it cute?
This image shows you how many pinwheels I used in this photo backdrop. As I said earlier, if I did it again I would make the rod a little wider and would make the pinwheels fall even lower.
Oh, and I also added some pom-poms! This is totally optional, but I thought it added some more texture.
Here’s my cutie pie daughter, she was my helper during installation and helped me take the photo backdrop down and move it to my house (a very delicate endeavor).
Let me know if you have any questions!
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