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DIY charger plate

Ready, Set, Charger!

Part of the magic of Wonderland is that things are rarely what they seem. A little of this magic unexpectedly worked itself into my daughter’s Alice in Wonderland party and made its way to our Mad Hatter table. These adorable Kate Aspen plates look like fine china but are actually paper plates. I fell in love with them the moment I laid eyes on them. They a perfect fit for our tea party, and they also inspired me to crank my tablescape design up a notch by adding gold chargers.

But there were two problems with this idea. The first was the cost. Although I had my heart set on the gold chargers, I also knew that my money would be better spent on big-ticket items that would be more impactful. The second problem was that the Kate Aspen plates are smaller than a standard dinner plate. Had I used a standard charger, my plates would have looked like they had taken a drink from a bottle with a Drink Me label! Enter disposable plates, silicone molds, and air dry clay. It sounds unbelievable, but trust me. Your table will be gorgeous, and your wallet will thank you!


Gold Chargers in the Making

The first step is to make the beaded trim. Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch into the beaded trim mold in order to make it easier to remove the clay. Next, fill the mold by adding small amounts of clay until the cavity is full. Press the clay firmly to make sure that all of the crevices have been completely filled. To remove the trim, slowly bend the mold backward and allow the clay to fall onto your work surface.

Clay with mold

It’s time to dress up your plate. When I initially made these for the party, I used Chinet plates, but plastic plates work much better. The edges are cleaner, so they look more like a real charger. Plus, they don’t have an annoying logo in the center. Oh, well. You live and you learn.

Squeeze a thin bead of glue around the perimeter of the plate and add the clay. Gently nudge the clay so that it hugs the curve of the plate without breaking. Repeat these steps until you have covered the entire perimeter of the plate.

Now we’re going to add the decorative trim that will hide the joints between the sections of beaded trim. Create four clay medallions and place them so that they cover the four joints. It’s starting to look good, right? We’re almost done, but before we can move on to the last step, we have to let the clay dry. This can take up to one day, depending oh the humidity.

beaded charger

Going for the Gold

If the clay cracks during the drying process, don’t panic! Just fill in the cracks with clay and use water to smooth out the joint. Once the clay dries, the cracks will be imperceptible. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! Air-dry clay is very forgiving, which is why I love using it.

Next, cover the plate with two to three light coats of metallic gold spray paint. Wait at least 24 hours before applying a light coat of the polyurethane varnish to protect your paint finish. The additional bonus of the topcoat is that the FDA considers it to be a food-safe surface once the varnish has cured completely. Although I intended for the chargers to be purely decorative, the coat of varnish ensured that all of my bases were covered in case my guests had other ideas. You never know, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And that’s all there is to it! With the money that you’ve saved on gold chargers, you can splurge on a treat! After all, your hard work should not go unrewarded.

DIY beaded chargers
DIY beaded charger
DIY gold charger