I’m a Cleo Cup-Glittering Virgin

I’m a Cleo Cup-Glittering Virgin

I grew up riding in New Orleans truck parades on my family’s float. This means I also spent large periods of my childhood learning skills like “how to staple petal paper onto plywood without also stapling my fingers” (no injuries to date) and “how to wield a hot glue gun to bedazzle costumes without also burning my fingers” (not so lucky there). But one skill I somehow failed to add to my Mardi Gras prep tool chest over the years was “how to glitter something.”

As a New Orleanian, I’m no stranger to glitter. I have an arsenal of face and body glitter in my makeup drawer and even spent years in a dance troupe dancing down The Avenue wearing a glittered pillbox hat. But I can’t recall a time in my life when I actually had the occasion to glitter an item.

Until now.

I’m a first-time rider in Cleopatra this year, which means I’m tasked with having beautifully decorated cups as part of my throws. Just like the long sought-after Zulu coconuts and Muses shoes, the Cleo cup is the krewe’s signature throw. And a signature throw is essentially the ultimate prize of the parade, earning the awe and envy of those around you once you’ve got one in your possession. It’s a trophy showing that YOU were selected (or that you were the tallest/fastest/most motivated in your vicinity, LOL) to have a little piece of Mardi Gras to take home and proudly display.

Months ago, I bought a dozen plastic margarita glasses, extra fine glitter in a variety of colors, and (an obscene amount of) Mod Podge and set them aside. I was PUMPED to try my hand at this!

Until I wasn’t.

Turns out, I was way more intimidated than I’d realized. Every time I tried to “begin” my cups, more hesitation would set in. I was worried about making a gigantic mess of my home (who among us hasn’t heard about how glitter is the herpes of the crafting world?). And I was even more worried that my cups would turn out to be embarrassing to throw. (Is my Enneagram 2 showing?) I didn’t know where to begin and I couldn’t really find a tutorial online to guide me. But I knew I’d put it off long enough. If I wanted to have glittered cups to throw on February 2nd, I would need to just bite the bullet and DO it.

I had a minor surgical procedure done the first week of January and decided on my second day of recovery to try my hand at getting a basecoat of glitter done on my glasses. Because my husband was off work that week, I enlisted him to help me. We put on Netflix and I set up our workstation. (It should be noted that I set up this work station in the living room because that’s where the TV is, but I don’t necessarily recommend this location.)

I opted for crawfish trays to contain the glitter and used pieces of plain printer paper inside the trays. I used two pieces of paper, sometimes more, for each color glitter — one piece to catch the glitter as it falls from the glass and another to catch that fallen glitter as you funnel it back into the bottle (repeat, repeat, repeat). I had an arsenal of foam sponge brushes and a disposable paper bowl of Mod Podge at the ready. My husband watched and waited for me to work out the kinks with the first few glasses before he was ready to glitter a glass. After about an hour, we’d managed to get a basecoat of glitter on all twelve glasses. (And managed to stay married!)

Our three biggest takeaways from that hour: (1) darker colors of glitter generally cover better than lighter colors; (2) it’s easier to glitter the top OR bottom half of the glass first and come back to do the other half once that part’s dry; and (3) this isn’t for the faint of heart, ha!

We were definitely “sailing the ship as we built it” there, but I honestly think we did pretty well for novices. I ended up going back the next day to do a second coat of glitter over the glasses. And then I started to map out what each glass could be (a step I probably should’ve done *before* I glittered a dozen glasses in a dozen different colors…). I can honestly say that what came next really wasn’t on my radar…

I fell IN LOVE with decorating the glasses!

I’ve always been pretty creative, but a lot of that creativity was put on hold once I became a mom and hardly had time for a shower much less a hobby. Taking the time to craft and create made me realize how much I’d missed it. (And I’d only made the time because I *had to* get the glasses done.) Sitting there glittering items for each themed glass and trying different techniques was so much fun, I got lost in my own little world. My racing mind was quieted, my anxiety melted away, and I was surprisingly at peace in a way I couldn’t remember having been in for ages. Of course, there were still kids to care for and a house to clean, so I was especially grateful for my husband who graciously shouldered the bulk of that for a weekend so I could work on my cups. I loved it so much, I ordered half a dozen more glasses to decorate for the parade!

I was excited to share my decorated glasses on my Facebook page and was blown away by the response. I had people messaging me to buy my glasses and others telling me I should go into business selling them — I was shocked! It remains to be seen whether I’ll actually start a glittering side hustle, but it’s wonderful to know that’s now a viable option.

And to think, it all started with a fear of making a mess.



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