DIY Project: Decorative Nautical Life Ring

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If you are hosting a nautical-themed party this summer at the pool, lake, beach or at home, one of the most obvious props you will probably use is a decorative nautical life ring. In real life, this kind of floatable ring is used as a rescue device to help people who have fallen off a boat or ship stay afloat until they can be pulled in.

For a party, this ring can remind your guests of being on the water or can serve as the base for a centerpiece. A punchbowl or food bowl can be placed in the ring as can a bowl of shells or floating candles. A ring like this can also be hung from the wall, a railing or possibly from the ceiling as a decoration. You could also create a hanging garland with white nylon boat rope by tying several life rings, which are very lightweight, along the rope at equal distances apart.

I have three real life rings that I have used for many years for parties, but for this party, I needed a smaller ring for my buffet table, so I decide to make my own. I found a ten-inch Styrofoam ring at the dollar store, which I planned to cover with white duct tape I already had. This was not my best idea, as I discovered. Even being very careful as I tried wrapping the ring with short pieces of the white tape, I could not keep it from wrinkling unattractively.

So, as I often have to do, I decided to try something different. I bought two rolls each of inexpensive white and red grosgrain ribbon, 1.5 inches wide, to wrap my ring. Because I am not a big one for measuring in advance, I bought two rolls of each color, because I knew I could use the extra ribbon for another project or return it. If you don’t trust your guesstimate, you should do some calculations. You also may choose to use a thinner width of ribbon for your wrapping.

You can use straight pins. floral pins or glue to attach the ends of the ribbon to the ring and then you just start wrapping. Be sure to pull the ribbon taut as you wrap–you may even want to pin or glue down the ribbon as you wrap, just to keep it tight. As you wrap, make sure that your wrapping overlaps so that the green ring won’t show, and so that your wraps look even as you work around the ring.

Keep all your wraps tight and when you’re done, pin or glue the end, turning under the end to give it a finished look. I wrapped my entire ring with the white ribbon. Then I chose four equidistant points on the ring to begin wrapping with the red ribbon. Decide in advance how wide you are going to make the four red wraps so you can make them all the same. Keep the ribbon taut as you did before, and make sure your wraps are even. Finish as you did before.

So you can make this decorative nautical life ring very quickly. If you want, you may want to try spray-painting white your green ring if you already have the paint at home. Then you could just use ribbon for the red parts. You could also add roping around the outside of the ring as seen in the two smaller life rings seen in the photograph above. Those rings were bought at a dollar store, but they didn’t have any larger ones. As you can see, there is seldom only one way to approach a project.

Enjoy your nautical party and décor!

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