“O-FISH-ally the Best” Classroom Door

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So far, we have made clownfish, pucker fish and scallops and cleaner fish.  Now, it’s time to put then all together into an ocean-themed teacher appreciation door decoration.  If you haven’t already read through the how-to posts, be sure the follow the links to the previous posts.

Materials Needed for the Project

Putting it All Together

Now that all of the components are complete, it’s time to put it all together into a fun, ocean-themed door decoration that your child’s teacher will love.  Part of what makes this door so dynamic are the variety of the textures used.  We will use some simple techniques and strategic layering to perfect the final product.  

To start, you will need the measurements of your teacher’s door.  Make sure to note where the handles, keypads, and windows are.  Also, make sure you understand your school’s policies on decorating doors, expecially when it comes to cover (or not covering) windows.  Also, your school may direct you towards poster board size decorations.  If that is the case, simply print all of the templates on a smaller scale by using the scale adjustment in the printer window.  You might need to play around with the percentages a bit to get the right size for your application.

Set up the Base Layers

Here are the dimensions I was working with.  Notice that I have the placement of the window, the door handle/keypad.  I also have the dimensions of the door itself.  I started by cutting a piece of light blue kraft paper a little longer than the door itself.  I wanted to be able to give myself room to make square corners and to cut off rough edges.  First, I squared the top edge with one of the long side edges.  A metal square (found at a hardware store) is helpful for this.  Next, I measured out the length of the door on the paper, but I cut it an inch or two  shorter than the actual door (in this case, I cut it to 81″ long).  I would rather the decoration be a couple inches to short when I hang it than to cut off extra when I get there.  I cut off the excess at the bottom making sure that it is square with the long sides.  Now I have a light blue base layer that is the correct length, but still too wide.  

To cut the paper to the correct width, I measured 33 inches from one edge at several points down the length of the door.  These marks gave me a guideline from which I could draw my cut line.  Using a really long straightedge (get creative here), I drew a line from top to bottom connecting all of the measuring marks.  Then, I cut along that line.  Now I have a light blue base layer for the door decoration.  All the other components will fit within this space.  

Next, I measured and marked the key components of the door, in this case the window and the door handle.  I will cut those out when I hang the paper so that they fit perfectly.  However, I want to know roughly where they are located so that I don’t put a fish or letters in that space and ruin the effect of the door decoration.  

"O-FISH-ally the Best" Text Download

Download this easy to use template for the text on your teacher appreciation door.  The text is available  in a normal formate or in a mirrored format so you can hide any print lines.  Simply subscribe to my newsletter and download the file from the link provided.  

Assemble the Extra Components

We have the fish, but there are several other things that make this door exciting.  We need to make so seawweed, ocean floor and the special message.  For the seaweed, we will use the green kraft paper.  Simply cut strips of green paper in a wavy pattern that varies in thickness as you go.  In other words, do not make the waves on each side of the seaweed parallel.  You do not have to be precise here.  It should be a little thicker is some places and thinner in other places.  Also vary the lengths of the strips.  Alternatively, you could use green crepe paper streamers if you don’t have access to green craft paper.  

Next, make the ocean floor.  Start by cutting a section of brown kraft paper that is a little larger than the area you want to cover.  The ocean floor should take un about 25-33% of the door’s area (or whatever you think looks good).  If you don’t have brown kraft paper you can use paper bags, but you will need to work hard to hide the creases and add the texture.  Rip the top of the section in a smooth, organic wave.  Then add texture by crumpling the paper into a tight ball.  Lay it out along the bottom of the blue paper, but don’t attach it yet.  We will layer the seaweed in front and behind the ocean floor to give depth.

Finally, print out and cut out the letters of the message.  The link to the pdf file is provided above.  Print the files onto the colored paper.  I like to have the “FISH” in a contrasting color to highlight the play on words, but that is a personal choice.  I also printed the text in mirror format so that any print lines were hidded on the back when everything was glued on.  

Putting it All Together

Before glueing anything into place, lay everything out.  Be sure to add dimension by laying some of the components.  Put some of the seaweed under the brown paper as if it is growing behind a small hill.  Put some of the fish under the seaweed and some of the fish over the seaweed to make it look like they are swimming through it.  Overlap some of the fish’s fins to make itlook like they are swimming in a school.  When you are laying out the text, be sure that it does not interfere with windows or handles, etc.  

Once you’re happy with everything, secure it with the glue dots.  When you are attaching the seaweed, add some gentle twists and bumps to give more dimension and texture.  

Using the rhinestone stickers, create bubble trails from each of the fish.  Start with the larger rhinestones closest to the fish and get small as the bubble move up.  I liked adding a slight curve to my bubble trails.  

Notice that I left a big empty space where the window and door handle will be.  

Finally, after attaching the ocean floor to the blue base, trim the edges so that it matches the size and shape of the blue paper. 

Time to Hang it Up

Now it’s time to hang the decorative door.  I found it best to use painters tape with one strip along the top and several tape loops scattered along the back.  If it doesn’t interfere with the door, you can wrap that tape over the top of the door so that it is mostly out of sight.  I found that this made trimming the windows and handle holes easier.  Use a good pair of scissors or a small box cutter and carfully trim out the windows and handles, etc.  Using painters tape and working your way down the door, use tape loops to attach the paper to the door.  More tape is a good thing here to make sure the door decorations stays secure.  

That’s it! You’re done!  Your teacher might find it helpful to have a few extra fish on hand to replace any that get torn in the process of normal classroom activities.  

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