Gotta admit, that when I found out the theme of this year's VBS, Weird Animals, I was not feeling it, at least from a decorating standpoint.
I watched the video from Group on how they created the set and related decor,
and I was still lukewarm.
Once we started creating, it was pretty magical.
The theme was extremely forgiving in that anything goes and more is better.
And since it's based on fantasy creatures and habitat,
there really weren't any rules.
Here is the entrance to the sanctuary.
Used the Group elephant ear leaves to make an archway.
At each column we set spray-painted fake plants.
We actually spray painted a lot of plants.
What church doesn't have an unending supply of those ancient, dusty
and hardly appealing fake ficas trees and ferns around?
We decided to retire some of ours and sprayed them with fluorescent paint.
The result was was more attractive than how they usually look!
The one on the left got a rainbow paint job.
Don't forget the trunks; here on the right it's yellow with black stripes.
And don't forget to paint the Spanish moss that serves as filler in the pot!
For the ferns that normally live in the sanctuary (and were off limits for painting),
we stuck some of the fan flowers in them.
We had ordered two of the Hip Habitat Fabric Wall Hangings.
Rather than build a PVC frame, we used six rolling walls,
attaching the fabric to the back of the walls using Tpins.
By using the walls, we were able to angle the hanging nicely
(rather than it being a straight line).
More spray-painted plants.
(The fan to make the waterfall appear to flow is hidden behind the ferns.)
We also thought it would be cool to use a sound machine that has the water feature on it.
The giant flowers were so much fun to make!
I used a different painting scheme than Group.
We spray painted the flower petal edges (I think they used regular paint
and then sprayed water and feathered the edges).
I sprayed black around the centers to make them pop.
We made stands for flowers using leftover insulation foam.
For the grasses in front of the flowers,
I made flowers using pipe cleaners and pom poms.
The bases of the large flowers are covered in the Group-purchased
The waterfall happened to be one of my favorite projects.
I had Ace Hardware save me super sturdy Stihl boxes (the long ones trimmers come in),
and these were the perfect base for the waterfall rock walls.
The smaller walls on each side are separate pieces, so everything can be disassembled and moved.
I used two colors of cellophane for the water (teal blue and iridescent).
Once the rock walls are painted, I sprayed on that Krylon
Stone Spray Paint to give them some texture and realism.
For the pond, I found pictures of koi fish online, printed them out,
cut them out and put them under the topmost layer of cellophane.
This little guy is a line-art fish drawing I found online, painted him all weird,
and put him onto a plexiglass stand so it looks like he's jumping.
I used white liquid chalk to make the water rings.
We made tons of truffula trees and used them as markers on the pews
to designate where the specific crews sit.
For all of our large foam pieces we used the 2" foam.
Hands down, one of our best decisions.
Which is a must since we take all of our decor and pass it forward at least twice.
For the large trees, I wasn't crazy about Group's foliage (the wraparound of bulletin board paper),
so I opted for using crepe paper flowers
and hanging Group-purchased "Spanish moss" from the branches.
(Both flowers and moss are attached with Tpins, which will allow for easy removal, transport and reattachment when passed on to the next church!)
In our Fellowship Hall, for the snack table centerpieces,
I went to my trusty (and huge) stash of pickle jars stored in my garage.
Each jar got two pieces of the 2" foam glued inside (to brace the metal-skewered sign),
surrounded by spray-painted dried Spanish moss.
We tucked some plastic critters inside, embellished the empty space
at the top of the jar with curled pipe cleaners and pom poms,
I reached out to display/outdoor signage companies for pieces of large cardboard,
my Ace Hardware men for boxes (and they mixed all my paint
and had it ready for pick up a few days later).
For the wishing well which we used for a Bible skit,
I had been to the local high school drama production of Beauty and the Beast and
seen a great wishing well prop complete with wheels.
I called after the production ended and asked if they loaned props.
She said they would take it apart, so if I wanted it, come and get it!
It's huge, with a crank, bucket and rope.
I've found that when it comes to VBS,
locals are always willing to pitch in and help any way they can!