Has anyone ever tried to make your own award ribbons? Well, I did this year and it was a near catastrophe. I joke with my students when they make a mistake by saying, "Do we need to call the 'Art 911 Emergency Hotline'?" I needed that Art 911 myself last week! Eventually, I came up with a plan for making ribbons, spending only around .33 cents each! 

At my previous middle school, I ordered all my award ribbons via an art supply catalogue. I had plenty of ribbons and didn't need to order every year, so it wasn't something I thought about often. I had a box full of them in storage! I also had a much larger budget then ... I have to be pretty stingy about what I spend those dollars on now. Well, I changed schools and was kept pretty busy all year teaching PK-12th grade... every day I was a first year art teacher all over again. So, I honestly didn't give those ribbons a thought! When it was time to prepare the art show, I figured I could just buy them somewhere locally. Ha! I looked in at least six different stores and the only place offering them for sale was ridiculously overpriced, so I finally figured I would make them myself. (It was too late to order them online.)

I bought rolls of 2" red, blue, and white fabric ribbons and a couple of metallic paint pens. I was excited about making these, all the way up until I tried out one of the paint pens. The liquid bled and spread through the fabric and looked awful! I thought I would try outlining with a Sharpie marker, but that ink spread, too! 

So, my next step was to roll up my sleeves, gird up my loins, and go to Michael's. Now, I purposefully avoid  these places - whenever I do enter an art supply store, something weird happens to my art teacher brain. I go into a kind of a trance and I wander up and down the aisles, staring at all of these amazing art products. It is hard to hold onto any kind of self control, especially when you are already tired from hours of art show prep. 

Well, I did leave Michael's after about an hour (I think!) with a can of gold spray paint, some miniature silver doilies (paper), and a few packages of scrap book stickers of artsy images. I also bought a circle punch. I picked up a few more odds and ends but I PUT THEM BACK. I am hearing imaginary applause right now! (I used the gold spray paint to put finishing touches on my senior trophies made of wooden manikins.) Michael's does give us a 15 percent teacher discount on their products.

To make my award ribbons, I glued a silver doily on top of the badly inked writing. One went on the front, and one went on the back. I then printed out several different sizes of the lettering and cut out each one in curves to look like a "paint splotch." I cut out the silver circle for the middle by hand, then glued the print-out on top. However, the glue didn't hold the printer paper very well so I wound up using rolled up scotch tape on the back instead. These didn't take long to make, especially since I got my angelic sister to help! Thank you, Abigail! It took her about an hour to make 20 ribbons, with the ribbons pre-cut to size. 
  • 3 rolls of 2" fabric ribbon (4 yds) = $4.00 x 3 = $12.00
  • each award ribbon is about 8" long = 18 ribbons per roll, 54 ribbons total
  • 50 mini silver paper doilies (makes 25 ribbons) = $3.40 + $2.40 (coupon) = $5.80 
  • $5.80 + $12.00 = $17.80 divided by 54 = .33 cents per ribbon... I would have been charged $1.50 each at the Parent-Teacher Store!
  • if you add .28 cents for the scrapbook stickers then each one would be .61 cents. Each package of these was $1.69 with my teacher discount and had 6+ stickers inside. 
  • I had the chrome adhesive for the centers on hand already; it was donated. The circle punch didn't even work on that plastic stuff, so I didn't count the cost of it. 
I also printed out some Honorable Mention ribbons on the school copier (free to me) to hand guests as they arrived. Each guest could choose an art piece to recognize! I like this system a lot. 

Here are a few more ideas for handmade ribbons:

photo credit: Julie Durocher
Art teacher Julie Durocher uses no-name paintings to make these beautiful ribbons. She also gets the students to help! 

DIY Paper Award Ribbon, by Andreja, easypeasyandfun.com

End of School Award Ribbons, taunieverett.com

Online stores for purchasing award ribbons (prices reflect May of 2018)

jonesawards.com = .38 cents each but cheaper if ordered in bulk... these can be customized 

ribbonsgalore.com = .90 cents each but .40 cents if you order more than 25 and .27 cents if you order more than 100

rapidribbons.com = .45 - .50 cents each

Nasco; award ribbons 1st, 2nd 3rd  = .50 cents each

Party City = $1.99 each

Oriental Trading Company = assorted 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Participation ribbons $9.99 for 60 ribbons (.16 cents each but these are REALLY cheap looking ribbons).

Jerry's Artarama and School Specialty did not have award ribbons listed online. 

I looked in the following stores for award ribbons and only found them at the Parent Teacher store for $1.50 each. Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Dollar General, Target, Everything's a Dollar, Dollar Tree ... none had award ribbons. 

Where do you get your award ribbons? Have you tried making them before? 

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols

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