Some holiday traditions include hiding a surprise in your dessert. Why not a dessert plate that hides additional "cheesecake" under the slice you're already eating? (Womp womp) Inspired by a significantly less sexy project from the Big-Ass Book of Crafts, we elected to build this one for our burlesque-performer sister-in-law. Building this exact piece is an ordeal in finding the right materials, but the concepts contained in this post can be readily applied to almost anything you can fit into a pair of fishnet stockings, which years of attending the Rocky Horror Show have taught me is damn near anything.
- 6 clear dessert plates with a flat bottom (as that's the last flat bottom you'll see in this article. Zing!)
- Valspar spray paints (we used red, black, and gloss clear. The finish of the colors is unimportant)
- Mythical deck of burlesque playing cards (see below)
- Fishnet stockings (cheap is fine)
- Spray adhesive
- Rubber bands or clothespins
This project hinges on two odd craft supplies. One is fishnet stockings, readily available literally everywhere, especially around Halloween. (As a culture I guess we need more outlets for men and women to dress inappropriately and misbehave on a more regular basis. The new Sexy Halloween is not for me.) The other is pinup playing cards. Before this project, I would have thought it would be a snap to find sexy lady playing cards. Generations of movies have told me that sexy lady playing cards are a thing and that every little boy in the 50's snuck a deck out of his uncle's house to peruse with his dumbfounded friends. This is no longer true. We could have found an actual mermaid before we got these cards...
The deck we wanted was one of the very few still being made recently. There's a modern burlesque deck out now that features pictures of live models that they sell in Bettie Page fashion stores, but we didn't want photos. That left us with a commemorative deck for some European card game and the Lucky Ladies deck based on Olivia's oil paintings of Bettie Page (Photo decks of Bettie's pinup work are also available.). But we just had to have the oil painting nosecone-style pinup art.
One company mailed us a deck but our mailroom returned it. We called the company and that was their last one. So they had to return our money and we bought the same deck for a few dollars more from a different company who only had two or three left themselves. Not getting the cards meant we had everything else for this project ready to go for two weeks while we sorted out buying the supposedly ubiquitous pinup playing cards.
To make sure that the plan would even work, I wrapped one plate completely in plastic wrap and tossed it into the fishnets, approximating the setup for the project to come. A few coats of spray paint later, I discovered that my usual "spray from all four sides for decent coverage" bit was ruining the clarity of the fishnet "mask". This taught me to spray from one side only, or worst case scenario, the top and bottom. All four makes it a little too wispy for me.
Once you have the cards, spray them with the adhesive and stick them down in the center of your very clean plates. I advise washing the plates and then cleaning the bottom with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. Anything left on your plates will get sealed in by the rest of the process, and glass is clear. Adhere hair and fingerprints at your own discretion.
Next, slip your plate and card combo into a length of fishnet stocking. We snipped ours into four pieces and used rubber bands to bind the ends together on the eating surface side of the plate and evened the fishnet out as best as possible. I tried to stick the fishnet down in the middle to help keep the webbing even across the bottom of the plate but it did nothing to help. Skip that part when you do it.
The book we were working from suggests a dusting of spray adhesive at this point to stick down the fishnets. I admit the pattern would be clearer, but we feared the adhesive would pull out fibers of fishnet and throw off the color/clarity/sheen of the red lozenge part of the design. So long as you only spray the red from one direction, you get a pretty clear pattern anyway, but if you are using lace or a finer hose pattern, then try the adhesive and let us know if it helps.
Once netted, spray the backs of the plates with an even coat of red. Multiple light passes are way better than a single heavy one, as the stockings can do nothing to help if your spray paint runs or puddles. Take your time or you risk ruining your handful of favorite cards.
Once those coats have dried, peel off your fishnets. Slowly. Just like that... Once you've checked the coverage and swept off any fuzz that may have tried to hitch a ride with the paint, you can spray the entire set black. The black paint will show through the red and accentuate the pattern, forming the fishnet design. A few light coats of clear gloss and you have some tastefully sexy dessert plates.
A note on gloss spray paint and hand washing: We bought nice spray sealer. That doesn't make it water-proof. These can't go in a dishwasher and probably shouldn't even be left in a sink overnight underwater. You can go nuts on the top side with a scrubber or what-not, because the food side is still glass and perfectly useable. Be a little delicate with the backside and things will go much better for you.