For the last couple of weeks, I’ve used pretty much all my spare time when Little Man was sleeping or doing his settling-in sessions at nursery to work on creating an illuminated window display for Window Wanderland. I themed the display around the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro, because a) it’s one of my favourites, b) I assumed there would be lots of families out and about with kids, and c) honestly the characters have nice simple designs that should be easy to recreate in a papercut!
I was really happy with the final result!
In this blog post, I’ll talk about how I created my window display, and also share some photos of some of my favourite displays from my local Window Wanderland event this year. Hopefully others will find it useful information and inspiration if you’re planning on creating an illuminated window display yourself. But first things first…
What Is Window Wanderland?
Window Wanderland is a scheme encouraging communities to set up “fun, local, all-people-friendly, window-display-based walking trails then share them with the world.” Illuminated window displays are set up by individuals or families in their homes over a couple of days, and then you can look up a map of your local area showing you where to find displays. It’s a really fun scheme, and obviously it’s especially great this year with the coronavirus pandemic, because it’s all outdoors and compliant with Covid-19 restrictions.
How Do You Make An Illuminated Window Display?
The flippant answer is: however you want to! As I walked around the displays in my local area, I would say that it looked like most people (like me!) did displays using coloured crepe paper and black card. I did spot what looked like a display that had been painted onto tracing paper (?) so that it illuminated beautifully, which I thought was a great effect and allowed for a lot of detail:
How Did I Create My Window Wanderland Display?
By taking over the dining room table for about two weeks! Apologies to my very patient husband. I’ll outline exactly how I approached it and some of my top tips for making an illuminated window display with paper and card…
Step 1: Measure your windows
We have quite a complicated downstairs front window set-up, with 10 panels of varying shapes and sizes, so the first thing was to measure them up. I did a really bad job of this and actually got the measurements for six of the panels wrong, which I only discovered on the night when I went to put my display up in the window… Oops. They were only about 1cm out, but still! I recommend measuring everything twice…
Step 2: Buy your supplies
For my display, I bought a pack of 10 sheets of A2 black card, and a mixed pack of 20 sheets of coloured crepe paper (I already had a lot of the dark blue crepe paper that I used for the background colour). I didn’t use tracing paper as a backing, but lots of people do, especially if you’re going for a more collage-style effect.
I already had a craft scalpel in the house, which was essential for the finer lines, and a cutting mat. I also already had Pritt Stick glue in the house, but I ran out on the last day and had to run to the shops to get more – so make sure you have enough glue, as if you have large windows you can end up using a LOT. I also used blu-tack to stick the panels to the windows.
Step 3: Plan your design
I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but I first cut my panels of black card into the right sizes for all the window panels – in some cases I also had to stick extra bits of card together to get the right size and shape for my windows. Then I outlined a reasonably thick border around the outer edge of each panel, and then started designing.
I did this as an iterative process, working panel by panel and outlining a design in pencil – rather than designing every panel from the start, before beginning to cut and paste, and I’m glad I did, because the first panel I did was way too complicated and took forever! After that, I simplified my designs a little, and also learned what shapes were easy/difficult to cut etc. as I went. You can see my excessively complicated first panel here – the top one with all the leaves:
I definitely think that when coming up with your design, less is more! I saw some amazing designs around town that were just done with two colours – black card and a white background (for instance, see below!). I think the simpler panels of my design have more impact as well.
Step 4: Cutting and sticking
My method was to cut a design out of black card, using a craft scalpel, and then stick coloured crepe paper in the gaps. For a few features, such as the eyes, I then glued more bits of black card on top of the crepe. It was quite fiddly, but I definitely got faster as I went along.
Actually one of the trickiest things was just finding somewhere I could put the panels while the glue was drying!
Other Local Windows
Before I started making my Window Wanderland display, I really wanted to see other people’s displays, for inspiration! So I thought I’d share a few more displays that I particularly liked from my local area:
Koi carp and irises window:
This beautiful display looks like it was made in a similar way to my display: cutting the design out of black card, and backing it with crepe paper.
Abstract colours window:
This abstract design is so beautiful and I think something like this would be easily achievable if you’re not feeling confident about making your window display. Again, it looks like it’s made with black card backed with crepe paper.
Prehistoric ocean window:
This lovely prehistoric ocean display looks like it was made by glueing strips of crepe paper onto tracing paper, and then sticking black cut outs on top.
I hope this post has been helpful if you’re looking for some inspiration for a Window Wanderland display!
Are you taking part in Window Wanderland in your local area? I’d love to see your designs! Let me know in the comments or tag me on social media for a share!