Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Night in Wonderland - An Event Design

I recently had the pleasure of designing a very special event for The Evergreen Montessori School. Donna Kerr of Pure Energy Real Estate (the same amazing woman who sponsors The Haunted Garden) decided she would sponsor and donate the event production for the show. The theme was called A Night in Wonderland with a Queen of Hearts dinner and Silent Auction to benefit the school.

After visiting the site and watching Alice in Wonderland, the movie, I decided I would build a classic Wonderland feel in the outside garden of the venue for people to walk through on their way into the Queen of Hearts dinner and then create a full Queen of Hearts space in the interior.

We reused the arch from past events but I built this Wonderland sign out of plywood, paint and glitter. It is illuminated with 2 Par 46 up lights. I bought some faux Wisteria to drape at the top to create a garden feel.
As you walk through the entrance, you are immediately welcomed by The Cheshire Cat. I cranked him out the night before the event like a crazy person after day 1 of install. I don't even know how i got my second wind. Pure passion I guess. He is made of plywood, paint, purple fur that I ordered from Amazon, spandex and batting at the nose, wood, paint and glitter on the eyes and then black sticks for whiskers! Those whiskers were attached with a hot glue gun and they held very well. He is probably my favorite piece. I brought him home to give to my son for his room. He loves cats and the color purple after all.
Next on the path was a handmade This Way That Way sign. This was done by cutting pieces of wood, creating a stencil, then painting and glittering. I will have some video of the making of this piece soon.
As guests approached the entry to the actual dinner, they were met with a long red carpet, red spandex and my handmade versions of the Queen's Guards flanking the doors. These were made of a very thin underlayment wood, paint and glitter. 
The room was a long rectangle, so the idea was to create a Mad Hatter Tea Party but Queen style. The school had put out a red, black and white theme for their brochures. Donna came up with the idea of covering all the chairs with black chair covers and red organza bows. It turned out beautifully.
The table was a lot of fun to design. Overall the room was going to be very Queen of Hearts heavy but I wanted to incorporate a lot of the garden feel from the movie. I got some tropical topiary plants from Home Depot to bring height to the table and a red & yellow floral centerpiece in a big vase with this beautiful Burlap wrapped around it. The rest was bought from a wonderful store near my residence in West Virginia called Hobby Lobby. They just happened to have large chess pieces and other Wonderlandy props that worked out fabulously! We also found some great pieces from a lady that had decorated a Queen of Hearts wedding  that included vases, printed Wonderland quotes, teapots, candles etc. 
For the perimeter of the room we wanted to create more seating areas to go behind the auction tables. This is where the Pure Energy Design Team came in to play. Since they stage houses and have a warehouse of furniture, they were able to bring in a ton of mismatched chairs and small tables as well as some fitting lamps and wall pieces. Jenn Clark (my best friend in the world who I could not do this without) hung big tissue paper flowers from the ceiling and installed black fabric over the windows using wire and pins. 
One of the things I took away from the Alice in Wonderland movie was the outside courtyard at the Queen of Hearts castle and her long red flags. The venue had 8 pillars on the perimeter of the room so what better reason to create long red flags! Cara Hunt from the Pure Energy Design Team sewed the edges and created a loop at the top for me to attach them to wooded dowels that I could attach to the pillars. They were all illuminated with Par 46 Up lights and some were accessorized with live bamboo stalks. These were very simple and classic. The fabric is just a basic flowy polyester from Joanne Fabrics.
Last but certainly not least was my 10' Heart for the stage. It was very important to have a big piece on stage that would bring the whole event together. A piano player would be performing on stage and the Cosmopolitan fountain and catering stations would be in the front on the main floor. So i constructed a huge heart out of underlayment wood since it is so incredibly light weight. It was 6 pieces total, painted and glittered, then  pieced together on site, hung in the ceiling and illuminated with 2 Par 46 up lights. 
The evening was a huge success. The school was very impressed and the guests were blown away. Thanks to Donna Kerr and the Evergreen Montessori School for the opportunity. I had a blast! 
For build and tutorials on the props:
More photos in my photo bucket.

Video of the event below