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Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Making a 20th anniversary Skeleton Krewe rosette medal

Published by Manning on January 28th, 2019

This year for Skeleton Krewe‘s 20th anniversary we were encouraged to make and wear anything with an “XX” to commemorate the occasion, whether it was something incorporated into our skull mask, or our costume, our makeup, etc. I decided to make this rosette-style medal to accentuate the skeleton suit I wear every year. It was fun to make! Here’s how I did it…

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal

I designed the medal in Photoshop and then separated it into pieces that I printed out to use as a guide. You can barely see it in the pic below, but the dark circle has my text printed on it as very very dark gray on black; more on that coming up.

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal - printouts

The medal is essentially three sections: the rosette section in the back, the medal area with the text in the middle, and the ribbons at the bottom. I made all these separately and attached them later, starting with…

The rosette background

For the rosette shape for the back of the medal, I decided to use layered shapes cut out of craft foam to mimic the little folded loops of ribbon in a real rosette.

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal - cutting out the shapes

In designing the medal in Photoshop I figured out that I’d need 24 of the little ribbon shapes. I isolated and printed out just one of these shapes (it’s the weird little shape at the top of my printout), and then I cut that out and traced it onto a piece of pasteboard. I cut that out, and then I traced it 24 times onto craft foam. I cut out all 24 of these shapes with scissors, and I marked a dot with a Sharpie on the inner corner of each one so I wouldn’t lose sense of the orientation or which side was which.

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal - assembling the rosette

I printed out a graphic of the entire rosette shape to use as a guide for placing all the little ribbon pieces. I set this down on my work surface and covered it over with shipping tape; the tape was there to hold it in place so I could use it as a guide, and it also gave me a non-porous surface to work on so I could easily peel the rosette off after it was all glued together.

I cut out a ring of poster board to serve as the base that the little ribbon segments would be glued to — I was initially going to use a solid circle for this (that’s the big circle at the bottom-left of my printout) but then I realized I wanted to see through the middle so I could use the lines as a guide for placing the little ribbon segments. I scribbled on this ring with a black marker so I could see it better while working on it. I taped the ring in place on the printout of the rosette shape using two tiny loops of masking tape in the back.

I then used a hot glue gun to glue each of the 24 little ribbon segments onto the circle, using the rosette printout as a guide and overlapping all the pieces one by one. Since the pieces needed to overlap, I couldn’t glue the first one down right away. I started by taping the first one down with masking tape, and then I hot-glued the second piece onto the first. I then worked my way around, so that when I got to the 24th one I could remove the masking tape and slip the 24th underneath the first and glue it in place, thus completing the circle.

A little bit of hot glue got onto the shipping tape that was protecting my work surface, but it was pretty easy to peel the whole rosette off. It was safe to peel off the tape and discard the printed guide at this time.

I cut out a big circle of pasteboard to serve as the back of the medal (tracing the big circle from my printout) and hot-glued it in place.

At this point I embedded two little magnets inside the back of the medal with a hot glue gun (not shown). These are there to help me attach the finished medal to the lapel of my jacket; more on that coming up.

The ring of overlapped ribbon shapes left this big empty space in the middle, so I cut out two small craft foam circles (with a space cut out to fit around the magnets) and glued them in place to fill this up — I made these by tracing the small circle from my printout. This helped create a front surface for the medal that was more or less even; perfect for gluing the front layer with the text in place, coming up.

The ribbons

I cut the ribbons for the bottom of the medal out of craft foam. I cut a border for the ribbons out of poster board and glued it in place with Tacky Glue applied with a paintbrush. Then I glued the finished ribbons onto the back of the rosette piece with a hot glue gun.

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal - adding the ribbons

(Don’t worry about how ugly the glue looks in the above pic! I did that on purpose to lock all the little pieces together; they’ll get covered by the big medal part in the middle, coming up.)

After gluing the ribbons to the rosette, I spray painted the whole thing black and let it set outside for a few hours.

The medal

I designed the text and “XX” bone graphics for the center of the medal in Photoshop and printed them out. Like I mentioned above, I printed them as very dark gray on black; this is so I could use the dark gray as a guide for painting over all this stuff by hand with white paint.

I loosely cut out the printout, leaving some space around the outer edge, and pasted it onto a piece of craft foam, using the same wallpaper adhesive I use for paper maché. I simply smoothed a lot of paste onto the foam with my hands, then laid the paper in place and smoothed a lot more paste over it.

I know from experience that the paper and foam will want to curl up a lot as they dry, so I tried a technique to reduce this effect. Normally the paper and foam curl inward, because of this sequence of events: the paper expands as it absorbs the paste, then it holds onto the foam tightly in this expanded condition as it sets, and then the paper shrinks as the moisture in the paste evaporates, and this pulls the edges of the foam inward, causing the whole thing to curl up into a C-shape. Make sense?

So, this time, I also pasted a blank piece of paper on the back of the foam, in the hope that the two sides would both try to curl inward and cancel each other out.

To let this thing dry on both sides at the same time, I stood it up between two spray paint cans. The technique mostly worked; the foam and paper dried somewhat warped all over but not really curled up in any one direction.

I cut out this circle shape with scissors. I then cut out a circle of pasteboard (from a LaCroix box!), just a tiny bit smaller than the foam circle, and glued it onto the back of the foam circle with a bunch of Tacky Glue. I set them down to dry under a stack of heavy books. The books helped flatten out the slightly-warped foam, and the poster board circle helped encourage the foam to stay flat afterward. Even after all this, the medal still wanted to curl up a tiny bit, but I was optimistic I could fix this once and for all when I glued the medal to the rosette backing; that’s coming up.

Skeleton Krewe rosette medal - finished!

Time to paint! I used Golden high flow acrylic paint and a tiny brush to paint all the text on the medal; it took two coats to get everything as opaque as I wanted. I then used slightly watered-down black acrylic paint to go over all the black areas and make them even more solid-black. I also painted the edges of the foam black. The result is a nice hand-painted organic-looking effect for the whole medal, even though I cheated with the printout!

I used my hot glue gun to glue this flat medal onto the irregular surface of the rosette, — the hot glue smooshed its way into the nooks and crannies of the ribbon shapes as I pressed the medal in place, firmly attaching everything. As I hoped, the front disk part of the medal finally stayed perfectly flat now that it was attached to this larger rigid shape.

Attaching to jacket

I made up a weird technique for attaching the medal to my skeleton jacket. I always hate trying to pin any kind of big badge or medal onto a jacket because the front piece gets in the way of your fingers, and with something hand-made like this there’s a risk of damaging it while you’re pushing and pulling on it to get the pin closed. So I decided to create a small pin out of a safety pin and magnets and then attach the medal (which already had two magnets in it) to that.

I made the pin out of a large safety pin with a piece of laminated paper from some junk mail folded over it, then the magnets and some shipping tape. Easy!

With any magnets, the more of them you stack up together the stronger they get, so you can make a really strong connection if you add enough. In this case I did two inside the medal and two on the pin; that was more than enough to keep the medal firmly in place through a day of marching and dancing.

This was an easy one! On to the next project!

2 Responses to “Making a 20th anniversary Skeleton Krewe rosette medal”

  1. dada Says:

    I LOVE it! XX envy!

  2. manning Says:

    Thanks Dada! I wish I’d had time to make one for everybody in the Krewe!! I briefly considered it… until I saw how long it took to make just one. :)

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