Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How To: Making Decorative Balls

These days, filling vases, apothacary jars, bowl and baskets with decorative balls has become "very fashonable." :) But these decorative balls can be so expensive! Bloggers and crafters have long known that you can, in fact, make decorative balls all by yourself. Yes, I am here to tell you that you are capable of participating in this craft. :) There are lots of tutorials out there, but I thought I would show you how I made two different types of decorative balls, Jute and Spanish-Moss. 

But first things first,
 It is imperitive that you have good music to craft to. Imperitive. (that means very important, essential) I'm a huge fan of Pandora and lately I've been loving the Laura Story station - great worship.

Ok, now onto burning our fingers creating our decorative balls.

Supplies Needed
  1. Spanish Moss (the off brand was called American Moss.... hahahaha!)
  2. Natural Jute/Twine
  3. Styrofom Balls (the white craft type, not the army-green floral ones) - you could use anything round that you have at home, I've seen some people use old balls that their kids are done with - my baby being young, I thought it best I not use her toys for my craft. :) 
  4. Your trusty friend, the glue gun. He will need to be heated up all the way before beginning this project.
  5. More ammunition for your gun, you will need aprox 4 sticks to make two balls (one of each type).
  6. Scissors
How to Make a Jute Decorative Ball

 I like starting with a nice clean work station, it makes me realize how much of a mess I make when crafting - I don't mind cleaning up craft messes. :) I like to use a tray underneth projects like this, it helps contain the mess a bit - and protects my dining room table from glue.

  1. Put a dot of glue on to your Styrofoam ball, and put the tip of your jute onto it. Let dry - only takes about 10-15 seconds and gives you a firm foundation that is not going to move.
  2. Put down no more than 1/4 inch glue at a time to establish your circle shape. Begin to go around the initial place where you attached the jute.
  3. You can begin to put a bit more glue down now, but no more than the length of half of your circle. (If your jute falls off, it is difficult to put it back the same way it was before, leaving you bits of white hot-glue in your string. A bit of this is to be expected, but too much isn't attractive.)
  4. Continue gluing and wrapping your jute around, working from the top-down. 
  5. Repeat step 4.
  6. When you are half-way done wrapping your ball, turn it over and begin working from the bottom-up.
  7. Repeat step 4.
  8. At this point, you will need to start working in 1/2in to 1in segments again, since you are not wrapping your jute around an established layer anymore, but are instead "laying" on the previous layer. 
  9. Continue wrapping/laying the jute until you are two "turns from being done" lay the jute into the rest of the circle without gluing so that you can see where you need to cut the jute and finish your string.
 While you are working on your decorative ball, no one will blame you if you turn it to the side and pretend it has a face. :) 

 It may be helpful to allow the ball to "unwind" to allow the string you are wrapping to relax and not be bunched up because of tension (you know when it curls?). 

 Ok, so picking up in step 9 - hold the jute so you can see where you need to cut. 

 (I think it looks like a coconut bomb from Swiss Family Robinson!) Put a dab of hot glue on the end of your jute, to keep it from unraveling - wait a few seconds before shaping it to the string. Then fill your "hole" and lay down your jute to finish the ball. 

 There you go! A jute ball! Good job! See that wasn't too bad right?!

How to Make a Spanish Moss Covered Ball
  1. Approach this stuff with caution, it is messy.
  2. Take some moss out of the bag, I found it necessary to cut out what I thought I would need - it was so tangled. 
  3. Spread out your moss, so it is in a few clumps but still attached (if it comes unattached, it's ok) try to keep the moss "clumpy" the more you have the better coverage you will have.
  4. Take a Styrofoam ball and put a zig-zag (yes, it's a technical term) of hot-glue on it.
  5. Take some of your moss and hold it against the fresh hot-glue. (go to step 7)
  6. Continue to make zig-zags and hold your moss against it, shaping the moss around the ball. This is a two hand process, but I had to take the picture with one of my hands. Go to step 8
  7. (Ahem... so sorry this is out of order, I didn't notice until just now.....) The moss should stick pretty well, the more you "scrunch" the moss together, the less you will be able to see your ball (some people reccommend painting your ball a dark color, so that if you can see it through the moss it isn't white, but I didn't have spray paint and didn't want to make more mess - if you have trouble getting good coverage on your decorative ball, it may be helpful for you to paint them before you begin to cover.) Go back to step 6.
  8. Well, that was kinda a choose- your-own-adventure, in the fact that you were jumping from point to point. Anywho.... Make sure you get good coverage with the moss, there is no shame in going back into the (albeit scary) bag to get more moss. 
  9. You are done! :) Way to go!
(Side note: I have tried to use tacky glue to make this and it doesn't work as well as the hot-glue. It doesn't "grip" the moss like the hot-glue does. :) )

 Remove any yuck like this from your moss, it doesn't make for pretty decorative balls. 

 And there you have it! A fun, springy (both the season and the motion) decorative moss ball. You can glue down all the ends, but I think they looked natural and kinda sassy poking out everywhere. :)

FYI: The jute balls take about 15 minutes to make, I am convinced that all the upping and downing with the hot-glue gun eats time. The moss ball took 4 minutes. Yes, that fast. :) It is a little more of an organic process and not so precise like the jute (if that makes any sense).

 Whatd-I-tell-ya about the mess.... use a tray... you will thank me. :)

I thought it was crazy - but all three of these are the same size (at least they were when I started)! I think the hot-glue shrinks the Styrofoam a bit.

 This is how I am displaying my decorative balls right now, but once I make enough I am going to fill my apothecary jar with them. 

Another idea for covering/wrapping - wouldn't it be fun to wrap a bunch of balls and put them in a basket for fall/winter. Something about yarn just calls out for cool, crisp weather and hot chocolate. :) Do you have any other covering/wrapping ideas? I've seen them made with coffee beans (ohh, might be a neat combo with the yarn!) and sea shells.

 Which one is your favorite? I find myself stuck, I seriously can't decide. I love the texture the jute one gives a bowl/vase/jar/basket but the moss one is so fun and a bit crazy - yes, I like things a bit crazy sometimes. :)


courtney linn said...

That just looks weird Sarah.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I love this idea - I will be making these to help decorate my upcoming rustic country wedding!!