Personalized Miniature Cocktail Umbrella Tutorial

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As someone who has always had an affection for miniatures, I've always loved little cocktail umbrellas.  I used to covet them.  Collect them surreptitiously from adult's drinks.  Hoard them and play with them until the delicate little cardboard spines eventually gave up.   In short, I liked them.  Still do.  So when I started planning the Firefly themed birthday party, I knew I wanted to duplicate Kaylee's iconic parasol in miniature for the drinks.

This is what the original in the show looked like:

And mine:

I figured this would be an easy craft for the party.  I'd just buy blank white little paper parasols, and paint on the colorful swirls.  But can you buy plain white cocktail parasols?  No!  Just the ubiquitous mixed color, printed variety that has been around for decades.  I had to adjust my plan.

My first step was to prime the umbrellas.  You have to take care when painting anything made out of tissue paper.  If it gets too wet, the paper rips and wrinkles and deforms horribly.

It took several light coats of primer, drying between each coat, to get decent coverage.  Colored tissue paper does not like to be painted (something I learned when modifying pinatas in the past).  I also figured out that I had to prime the underside of the umbrellas to get a decent end product.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to cover the toothpick part that would be touching food until I'd already done a batch...  For the second batch I used painter's tape to cover the toothpick while I was painting.

Just like painting over the horrible purple sponge painting in my master bedroom, the primer helped tremendously, but didn't do the whole job.  I still had to paint over the cocktail umbrellas with plain white paint.  Let dry completely.  And THEN I could paint on my colorful Kaylee swirls.  

Making these little miniatures of Kaylee's parasol turned out to be far more laborious than I had originally anticipated.  But still totally worth it.  Once I get an idea in my head, it's hard to shake.  

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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