DIY Tutorial: moss-covered table numbers

It’s taken 11 months to the day, but I’m *finally* getting around to posting tutorials for some of the wedding projects we made. Up today, not-so-spendy moss table numbers. No Etsy required!

Let me say, I never ever gave a single thought to table numbers until, oh, a month before the wedding. I mean, they’re numbers…how hard can it be to find decently priced, aesthetically acceptable options? HARD. The options seemed to fall into two camps — hideous or too expensive. Now granted, those are subjective categories but neither miniature high heeled shoes for $.99, nor $10/each moss numbers worked for us. But I *really* liked those Etsy moss numbers…a lot. I’m not generally an impulse buyer, so the sign that I like something is that I end up thinking about it, on and off, for days. (I’m still kicking myself for not buying a dress w/ penny farthings on it…three years ago.) Anyhoo, I kept thinking about the moss numbers, but they were toooo expensive. So I figured, whatever, I’ll just make them. Mind you, I was grossly underemployed at the time, so wedding projects were the order of the day (actually, of the three months, but w/e).

Here’s the final product (w/ photo props to the ever-fabulous Karen Kelly):

DIY moss table numbers

I promise you, it’s not hard to make these. But, it’s kind of a pain and you will likely burn the bejeebus out of your fingers. No really. If you’re not careful, you can steam that skin right off. So, either be careful or start early. That way it all has time to grow back. :) Also, take a little bit of time to consider how you want them to look on the table, then choose a size of number accordingly. My original choice of number was too small and blended into the table too much. Also, the moss smells abhorrent once you wet it. So bad. But the smell dissipates, which I was extremely glad about. Not that guests go around smelling table numbers, but still.

DIY moss table numbers

Materials:

– wooden numbers. I got 6″ ones from Joann, using one of their 50% off coupons. They ended up being about $1.00 each
– several bags of sheet moss. I think I bought 6 bags for 15 digits, but can’t exactly recall.
– a pencil (eraser end) or chopstick to help you push the moss down
– hot glue gun
– so many glue sticks (SO MANY)
– cardboard or paper to cover your table, or a table you don’t mind getting gluey bits on

Directions:

– Rinse out moss in a big bowl, or in the sink. The moss I bought was extremely dirty. Rinsing got out some of the dirt and made the moss much more pliable.
– Squeeze out as much water as possible, then spread out on paper or dish towels to dry a bit more. You don’t want it soaked or bone dry, just a little damp.
– Put damp moss in container and heat up your glue gun.
– Take a small clump of moss, about the size of a dime, and roll slightly b/w your fingers. The idea is to get it to come together a little bit at the bottom of the clump, so you have something to glue down *and* some mossy tendrils sticking up. If you remember making flowers and trees out of tissue paper squares, the eraser side of a pencil, and glue, this is the same idea. Glue the bottom and have fluffy stuff on top. I had to fool with it for a bit to get it to look how I wanted.
– Put down a small puddle of hot glue on your number, then push the moss onto the glue, using either your fingers or the eraser-end of a pencil. Push so it’s secure, but don’t smash it. You want it to stay fluffy.
– Continue in this manner until front, back, and sides of number are filled with moss. It’ll take awhile!

Tips:

– Count the number of digits you need, not the number of tables you will have! (e.g. Table 12 = two digits) I ended up back at Joann’s b/c of this oversight.
– Don’t use the moss when it’s too wet. Surprise surprise, it won’t stick very well…and the smell of steamed moss will make you gag.
– Let your numbers dry over night, then do a second touch-up layer of moss. I noticed that they looked like they were full at night, but then I would find bald-spots in the morning.
– You will get evil hot glue “hairs” all over your numbers. This will make you angry and tempt you to toss them out the window (or rage comment here about my lousy project directions?). I solved this by using the following, totally made-up, technique. Squeeze out glue. Pull gun just back from glue puddle, then move tip quickly in small circles. *Then* move gun completely away. This seems to do a good job breaking the little “hair” that appears if you pull the gun away quickly. Then, quickly press moss clump down, as noted above.
– If moss stays pliable, no need to keep wetting it. Some of mine stayed pliable, others turned to straw. I kept a misting water bottle nearby to help w/ the straw-like batches.
– People, for example, your fiancĂ© and mother, may look at you like you’ve finally leapt over the wedding project edge…but keep at it. These will look excellent when you’re done! :)