Several months ago we saw this amazing backdrop of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night painting, made in Super Saver pompoms! Katie Ford, an artist, had made it herself for her then-upcoming wedding. Now the wedding and honeymoon are over (congratulations Katie!) and we can share her creativity with all of you!
We did a Q&A with Katie over email, so read on to hear her story.
1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Katie Ford (previously Katie Romanic), and I am a full time art teacher and artist. I teach at North Royalton High School in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and I also run an Etsy shop called Fiber and Gloss.
I feel so privileged to have created a life for myself that evolves around art and creating. Not only do I get to do something I’m passionate about all day, but I also get to share that passion with my students. I always knew that I would be an art teacher, and I have always been creating something for as long as I can remember – idle hands truly are my enemy. I have a very difficult time just sitting still as my hands always have to be making!
My two favorite mediums to work with are acrylic paint and fibers. I actually taught myself to crochet from one of my grandmother’s crochet books from the 70’s when I was in middle school. I found painting more so in high school and college, but I enjoy working with both today.
2. What inspired you to do this backdrop?
Funnily enough, my now husband and I met on Tinder, of all places. I promise you this was the last place either of us expected to meet the person we’d spend forever with. We both had that “I just know” feeling about each other very early on, and he actually suggested we should one day have a Starry Night themed wedding after only a few weeks of dating. We had talked about Starry Night being my favorite painting of all time, and as soon as we saw it in NYC together (his first time), we both knew that if we were lucky enough to marry one day, this had to be a part of our wedding.
Fast forward to when we got engaged, unsurprisingly, I started to brainstorm and make all sorts of lists of things I wanted to make specifically for our big day. Because when you’re an artist, you just can’t accept the same decorations everyone else has! During a late night Pinterest search, I stumbled upon a small company that creates customized backdrops for all sorts of events. They even had one in their portfolio that was of Starry Night, but they used tissue paper flowers to create their pieces. While they were beautiful, I knew I would never spend that kind of time on something that wouldn’t last forever or even survive an outdoor summer wedding. I started searching for ideas of alternative materials I could use to complete this, and I ended up stuck on yarn pretty quickly. After all, I knew it had to be something that could be folded or rolled and assembled easily for transportation and other logistical reasons. I remembered all of the latch hook kits I completed as a kid, and I knew I needed to find that type of material to make this idea work best. I should also mention here that I’m that totally crazy person that will tackle anything my heart is set on regardless of the amount of time it will take me to complete it.
Once I had found non slip rug pads essentially worked the same way as the latch hook canvas, I ordered a 7’x10′ piece and started designing. I took a piece of grid paper that was proportional to the final dimensions of the rug pad, and I started coloring each individual box to represent each and every pom pom.
3. How did you make it?
Once I had settled on my design and the number of colors I would need, I purchased my yarn and decided to make my own pom pom templates. I found the manufactured ones to be too tedious, and I wasn’t really too concerned with each pom pom being perfectly round. I made my template by cutting a 2.5″ x 4″ section of sturdy cardboard and cutting a window inside that. I wrapped it pretty thoroughly with duct tape for added stability, and I probably had to make 3-4 more throughout the entire process as they would show some wear over time, naturally. When I started making pom poms, I didn’t really have a system planned out. I just started making as many poms of each color as I could. Our apartment filled up pretty quickly with grocery bags filled with pom poms sorted by color. I told myself I wasn’t going to start assembling anything until all of the 15+ skeins of yarn I had originally purchased were made in to poms. But who was I kidding … I was way too excited to start!
I decided the easiest thing was going to be to work one row at a time going all the way across as I could then line up each row with the one before it, and this would help me make sure all of my spacing worked well, too. I pushed everything in our living room to the edges of the room so I had just enough space to spread out the entire 7×10 rug pad. I like to work in front of the TV and bingewatch something while I work – I don’t often like the silence; I’d rather have a little background noise. To attach the pom poms to the rug pad, I simply took the tails of the piece I used to tie the center of the pom and placed them through the grid of the rug pad. Then I just tied a double knot on the back and moved on to the next pom. This process continued for the entire piece, and as I worked, I blacked out the squares on my grid drawing design so there was no chance of ever losing my place.
4. Did you have help?
I will say that a few people offered their help, and a few people made a couple pom poms here and there, but I would say that I myself made at least 95% of all the 3,000+ pom poms in the backdrop. Most people that know me well know that when it comes to artistic and creative endeavors, I can be pretty particular, and I think they didn’t want to feel pressured or overwhelmed by trying to meet my expectations. I will say, though, that the frame used to hold it up and display it on the day of the wedding was completely outsourced to my architect father. I can obviously speak the pom pom language, but physics, gravity, and construction and I don’t always mesh very well together. So that one I left entirely up to him! Thanks, dad! :)
5. Why did you choose Super Saver?
Choosing Red Heart Super Saver was an incredibly easy decision for this backdrop. First, I knew I wanted all the colors of yarn used in the backdrop to the be the same brand for uniformity purposes. I wanted a clean look that meshed well together, and the last thing I wanted to do was have so many different textures and weights of yarn happening at the same time. Second, I knew I needed a yarn that was a worsted weight with a little bit of structure and strength to feel confident in how the pom poms would hang. I didn’t want any super droopy or flimsy poms. And lastly, I knew it needed to be an affordable yarn as I was about to buy a very large batch of it! When I thought through everything I needed from the yarn, I didn’t see any good option other than Super Saver. For reference – each Super Saver skein yielded 25-28 pom poms (2.5″ diameter and wrapping 65 times around my pom pom maker). I usually spent around $3.30 on each skein, and there are just slightly over 3,000 pom poms in the whole backdrop. So that’s about $400 in yarn on the whole backdrop, which is a bargain in my eyes compared to so many other brands!
6. How long did it take to make it?
I wish I could tell you that I counted it out or kept track of how long the whole thing took. But I didn’t. And I didn’t on purpose. What I can tell you is that I started making pom poms in August, and I finished the entire backdrop in early December. But let me be clear – that was a whole lot of nights spent on the couch making pom poms! I also made quite a few of them while my students worked on their art projects – that way we were all working on art at the same time!
7. What was the reaction?
We all know weddings are so crazy and I hardly had a chance to speak with everyone that was there that night. But I can tell you that my closest family members and friends all loved the finished piece. Many of our guests took photos in front of the piece throughout the night, and I don’t think we could have had a more unique backdrop for our big day. We look forward to hanging it up permanently when we have a house one day, but many others have suggested I try to rent it out to other event planning companies for all sorts of events looking for something unique. I’m open to anything and I absolutely look forward to any opportunities that will come my way after this!
8. Where can we find you on online?
My Etsy shop is www.fiberandgloss.etsy.com, and I’m also on Instagram as @fiberandgloss.
I sell a huge variety of things from abstract paintings, quote art, magnets, greeting cards, and crochet scarves. Custom orders and commissions are some of my most favorite things to do, so you can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image used for header from Brittany Graham Photography. Location for wedding images Mooreland Mansion.