Of course, the first thing you need is an umbrella. Think about your color palette. Sometimes all black is in order, and sometimes, the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold would be best. Of course, depending on the occasion, you can use any colors you like.
Pick up a few ornaments and decorations in keeping with your color scheme. Make sure they’re lightweight and not too bulky, since you’ll be attaching them to very delicate material. Bearing that in mind, anything goes. Garland, fringe, or a boa for trim, some beads to glue along the spokes of the umbrella or to let drape from the edges, feathers, masks…use your imagination and choose whatever appeals to you. Don’t forget to find something to use as a topper…preferably something tall and dramatic.
First, if you’re using beads to line the spokes, you’ll want to cut them to the right size. For our smaller umbrellas, about 13” of beads is just right to reach from the top of the umbrella to the tip. Dot a small bit of hot glue at the top, and secure the first bead into place. Hold it there for a minute, it’ll take that long to dry and become secure. After that first bead is in place, draw a thin, straight line down the spoke, a little at a time. Then, simply stretch the beads out straight, and lay them gently on top of the glue, pressing lightly when they’re in place. Continue until you’ve covered all six spokes.
Next, we attached some foil tassels. These conveniently come in packages of 3, so you only need two packages. The easiest way to attach them is to snip the loop on top in half, then tie the cord around the ball at the end of the spoke. Cut off the ends of the cord. Don’t worry if the knot shows, because you’ll be covering it up later. After you have the tassel in place, dab some hot glue on top of the knot, to keep it secure.
For the trim, a feather boa is a great way to add color and dramatic flair. Our 6′ boas just happen to be the perfect length to stretch all the way around our 14” umbrella, so you only need one. Add hot glue, one section at a time, and press the boa securely against the umbrella. Be careful here—they don’t call it hot glue for nothing! It’s very hot, and very easy to burn your fingers. Make sure the boa is firmly attached by pressing it between the front and back side of the fabric. You may want to use something like a potholder to shield your fingers from the heat.
From there, it’s easy to attach any kind of decorations and ornaments you have. Squeeze a little hot glue onto the back of each one, and press gently on the umbrella. It doesn’t take a lot of glue, and you want to be careful not to use too much, so you don’t have any showing underneath.
The most important part of your decorations is the topper. Remember, this is Mardi Gras, so less isn’t more—MORE is more! Add feathers, jewels, glitter, picks…anything you like to make your umbrella different. Once you have your topper the way you want it, line the bottom of it with more hot glue, and press down over the center of the umbrella. You may need to hold onto the topper for a minute, just to make sure that it’s definitely secure.
Now you’re ready to enjoy that Mardi Gras Second Line!