When our little boy entered the world in the early hours of January 30th, 2018, he was named “Hooper”, after one of the main characters in Jaws. I watched Jaws for the first time during a balmy summer night in 2007, projected on my boyfriend’s living room wall and with the ocean crashing in the distance. Less than a year later we were married, and we’ve seen it countless times together ever since. Hooper is a great character in the film – intelligent, funny, charismatic, brave and a considerate dinner guest. Whilst we will forever be saying “HOO-per (not Cooper)“, I can’t imagine a better name for our son.
So when it came to choosing a theme for Hooper’s first birthday, the answer was obvious… PJ Masks! Just kidding, we always planned for his first birthday to be Jaws-themed. I will be honest in saying that I didn’t really think through how close his birthday party would be to the holidays. I was totally preoccupied with Christmas until Boxing Day, when I woke up, looked at the calendar and realised I had four weeks to pull Hooper’s birthday party together, including the invitations, decor and refreshments, as well as a Pinterest board full of projects I was keen to try. I’m not even joking when I say that I worked on this party every spare hour I had for the next 31 days.
The invitations were super fun to put together and I am very proud of them. Nearly all of my initial design sketches included a toy boat, and I set about finding a scale model that looked similar to Quint’s Orca from Jaws to design the invitations around.
Late one night, whilst down my 864th rabbit-hole, Google-ing boats, I stumbled upon 3D printing plans for an Orca replica and this got me thinking – rather than buy boats that kind of looked like the Orca, could I print the Orca instead? Crazy and over the top for a kid’s birthday invitation but it was an exciting idea none-the-less.
I contacted my friend Adam who had experience with 3D printing and asked him whether it was feasible to print from the file I had found. He did one better and offered to try printing one on his 3D printer to see whether it would be successful. Unfortunately, this first boat was a fail. The details of the boat (the mast, the ladder rails, the pulpit) were just too fine to be printed at such a small scale.
Adam messaged me again shortly after to let me know that he had created a new design that simplified the key features of the Orca and would result in an improved print. I was over the moon!
I actually like Adam’s version far more than the original; it had all the identifying attributes of the Orca but fit with my kid-friendly interpretation of the Jaws theme. We omitted the mast in this design as I had plans to make my own with a flag. Adam then proceeded to print enough boats for our invitations with his printer. 3D printing is an amazing technology and Adam is an amazingly generous friend.
With the boats sorted, I needed to get on with designing the invitations to go around them. I found some PVC cupcake boxes at Lombards that fitted the boats perfectly, which gave me the dimensions for all the paper components I would be printing.
I do tend to get carried away when designing invitations and “over-engineering”, so for this design I made sure the details of the party were easy to read on the back of the clear invitation cube, the reverse of the card showing the ocean horizon behind the boat. A raised base for the boats to sit on has the silhouette of a shark lurking underneath. And a little red flag with one of the most famous lines in film history. I customised each tag with the names of the guest the invitation was for, with a cute little life preserver graphic. We had the paper components printed on 300gsm card stock at Officeworks, and I trimmed and scored the fold lines at home.
Most of the assembly process happened after Hooper went to bed when there was low light and little chance of a “proper” photo shoot for the WIP shots. For the masts, I trimmed down bamboo skewers to the required height and wrapped the flag around them, before gluing them in place on each boat. I used yellow and white bakers twine to attach the gift tags, and a lovely navy grosgrain sealed each box shut.
We had a small guest list so it was no bother to hand deliver them – we placed each box in white paper bags with tissue paper and happily dropped them off with Hooper’s friends and family… exactly three weeks before the 26th, so there was just a small window of celebration before embarking on the next task on the to-do list: decor for the party! But this is a topic for another post.