Tutorial: Melamine Plate Cupcake Stand

Willow Grove Photography

My husband and I chose to serve cupcakes at our wedding.  The theme of our informal outdoor reception was Peggy Sue Got Married and Threw a Tiki Party, so logistically cupcakes were easier to manage.  And everyone knows that blondes cupcakes have more fun.

The problem, I quickly learned, was to find a cupcake stand large enough to hold all six dozen cupcakes which: 1. wasn’t too expensive; 2. wasn’t too cheap looking; and 3. fit into our theme.  I DIY’ed many projects for our wedding, so I knew that I could come up with a better solution on my own.  (I promise that I will also be sharing future tutorial posts on our vintage brooch wedding flowers and the guest table runners that I crafted.  That’s a peek at my bouquet in the background of the picture above.)

While shopping for wedding supplies at Hobby Lobby, I found these melamine plates.  By a happy accident, the colors and patterns coordinated perfectly with the fabrics I was using to make the guest table runners.  You may be able to see that the fabric of the pompom-edged table square in the shot above matches the top and one of the middle plates in the picture below.


The melamine was relatively lightweight, and I was confident that I could make these varied plates and platters into my dream cupcake stand.  But how to separate the plates?  My husband had elaborate visions of drilling holes into the plates and using some sort of rod or dowel system that he would design.  I hoped for something a little less power-tool-oriented and time-consuming.  Whatever I chose, however, needed to be tall enough to allow room for cupcakes between the tiers, but not too tall.  I’m not great at physics, but I recognized that longer separators may make the entire structure less stable. Something to do with force…or pressure..?  Plus is just wouldn’t look good.

Ever the budget-minded bride, I found these candlesticks at Dollar Tree.  They were the perfect height at 4 inches tall.  But the problem was that the 3 1/4 inch diameter base of the candlesticks hogged too much cupcake space.  The solution?  Turn them upside down.


To put the pieces of my cupcake stand together, I relied on my old friend silicone caulk.  I turned each plate over so that the bottom was facing up.  I then measured the center of each plate and marked it.  I next applied a small bead of caulk to the bottom of a candlestick, and I lightly placed it on the face-down plate so that it was centered over the marked spot.  I immediately removed the candlestick leaving a silicone caulk ring outline on the bottom of the plate.  I then applied more caulk to the bottom of the plate, using the ring outline as my guide.  If necessary, I also applied more caulk to the bottom of the candlestick.  Allowing the caulk to ‘cure’ for about 30 seconds, I again placed the bottom of the candlestick on the bottom of the plate using gentle pressure.  I repeated this process for the top five tiers, so that I ended up with five upside-down plates with five upright candlesticks glued to them.  I allowed the glue to dry overnight.

The next day, I started to build units from my individual plates.  I placed the bottom platter right-side up and again measured and marked the center.  I then took the platter that would be the second tier from the bottom and turned it right-side up (the candlestick glued to the bottom stayed put…whew).  I repeated the process of applying the silicone caulk, making the caulk impression on the bottom plate, removing and applying more caulk, and gluing.  To support the top-heavy plate (remember that the candlestick is now upside-down, so that smaller top side is now being glued to a plate), I used a couple of lightweight styrofoam blocks that were about 4 inches tall as supports between tier five and six.  I repeated this process with the the third and fourth tier.  This time I not only used supports between the plates, but I also used additional stryrofoam supports to hold up the fourth tier.  I didn’t trust balancing on the small end of the upside-down candlestick that was glued to the bottom of this plate.  I repeated the steps for the first and second tier, and I again allowed everything to dry for a couple days.

Over the course of a week, I repeated the steps above.  I glued the middle unit (plates 3 & 4) to the bottom unit (plates 5 & 6) and allowed it to dry.  I then glued the top unit (plates 1 & 2) to the middle/bottom structure and allowed it to dry.  Here is how it looked when complete.


And here it is again loaded up with the good stuff at the best wedding reception ever. (I may be a little biased.)

Willow Grove Photography

While I wouldn’t pick it up and swing it around over my head, I can tell you that this stand has been strong and sturdy for the three years following our reception.  When not loaded up with sweets or other party foods, I use it as a display in my craft room.  I can pick the whole stand up with one hand and not worry about it falling apart.  I don’t think that Hobby Lobby still carries these particular melamine plates, but I have seen other collections in the store.

Target also has a great selection of seasonal plate collections which would be fun to use.  Wouldn’t the Leaf Collection plates and platters be super cute with these Radical Patter Collection plates?  Or with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter on the way, maybe some of the cute holiday plates?  What would you do?

Melamine Leaf Collection | Target14296341_121207103000



17 thoughts on “Tutorial: Melamine Plate Cupcake Stand

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