Wednesday Custom Design

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messiest, merriest and whirliest DIY balls 11/7/10

The weeks leading up to the Everee Wednesday photo shoot were full of some pretty significant messes! Nearly every detail of the photo shoot was handmade. So, we wanted to share our absolute favorite DIY project with you, sweet friends! 












the messiest, merriest and whirliest DIY balls

Now you can't say we didn't warn you. The level of messiness involved in this project definitely warrants the great outdoors or a tarp covered floor in your home. However, I think you will find that the fun you had along the way and the final product makes the mess completely worth it! 

Gather up:

  • Big balloon
  • Sharpie
  • Scissors
  • Cotton yarn
  • 4 oz. White school glue
  • 1/2 cup of Corn starch
  • 1/4 cup of Warm water
  • Something to stir with
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Clear fast drying spray paint
  • Hanging lamp cord or fishing line (depending on your desired final product)
  • Container for mixing


  1.  Blow up a balloon. We kind of suggest not blowing it up to its maximum capacity so that it is rounder.
  2. After the balloon is inflated to it's desired size draw a circle with the sharpie around the balloon knot just large enough to accommodate whatever lighting method you choose. Note: If you are just wanting to hang the balls or use them in a vase then you don't need to leave a hole at all!
  3. You will need to prepare your work area by laying down a tarp. We hung a shower curtain between two chairs and suspended the balloons by it with string so we could have plenty of working room.
  4. Mix corn starch, glue and warm water together until it's not lumpy (too bad getting rid of cellulite isn't this easy). 
  5. Smear the petroleum jelly all over your balloon until it is completely coated. Note: We specifically left using rubber gloves out of these instructions. You should get messy. If we were concerned about keeping your hands clean this would have been called the "loveliest, merriest and whirliest DIY" not "messiest, merriest and whirliest DIY".
  6. Besides sharing in good company, it will go much faster if you have a friend help you with this. One of you begin feeding the yarn through the glue mix and handing it off to the other person to drape around the ball.
  7. Tuck the start and end pieces of yarn beneath other pieces of yarn. Begin wrapping the yarn around the balloon vertically at a comfortable tightness, and gradually switch to wrapping horizontally.
  8. After your ball has dried for 24 hours, you can pop the balloon! Use a chopstick to knock out any glue crystals that developed between strings.
  9. Spray the ball with clear fast drying spray paint outdoors.
  10. Now let there be light, fishing wire from the ceiling, or something pretty to put in a vase! 

Instructions for making the sweet little flowers that are in the yarn balls above!

We do hope you found as much laughter and fun through this craft as we did!


Love these! I am totally going to make them for my wedding next summer! Very creative!
- by Nicole on Nov 8, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Do you think kids could make these?
- by Rhonda on Nov 9, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Oh I think it would be fun to do with kids, but it just needs to be the right setting. It is unbelievably messy, but the mess is part of the fun!
- by Garett Mayfield on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:59 PM

Hey guys, this is amazing!!!
we posted on facebook page for our fans to see it too.

- by Gee on Nov 17, 2010 at 6:47 PM

I've been wanting to do this project for a while, but now I'm really inspired with the way you've grouped them together, love the look, thanks so much!
- by creativejewishmom/sara on Nov 18, 2010 at 1:28 AM

Do you this this would work with colored string too?
- by Hannah on Nov 18, 2010 at 7:27 AM

This is such a great idea!
- by Erin D on Nov 18, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Supper cool. Garett!!!! Great to see the incredible work you are doing. Really beautiful. Let me know how things are going. I hear you are in Florida but I don't know where. Congratulations on everything. PS, if you make it back to Abilene for any reason make sure you bring some work and talk to our students a bit.
- by Mike Wiggins on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:05 PM

Thank you guys!! Hannah, I think it would look incredible with colored string! You should try it, and please send us pictures smile
- by Garett Mayfield on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:47 PM

Hello, aussie here. I've used "white school glue", but I have a feeling it's different from your white school glue. Ours is a glaggy, wheat starch glue and I have a hunch that the glue you've used is more like a gummy glue. Could you clarify please? I really love this idea but the mock-ups I've made for fiance haven't been terribly successful :(
- by Kathryn on Nov 20, 2010 at 4:56 AM

Kathryn, Yes we used Elmer's School Glue, Corn Starch, and Water. The trick is to add the water slowly, stir for a while, analyze the consistency of the glue and then add more water if it is still too thick. Just be careful not to add too much water, because then it can get very runny. And make sure that the Starch that you add is broken down so that there are no "clumps" in the mix. I hope that helps.
- by Jessica Mayfield on Nov 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM

That's very helpful, thank you! It was a very thick consistency and there are dried clumps in between bits of string. But for the next batch, I'll make it a little runnier.
Thank you again! And for sharing such a great idea!! :D
- by Kathryn on Nov 20, 2010 at 11:00 PM

So creative! I'm going to use this idea for an upcoming Christmas Winter Wonderland Party... Thanks!
- by Leah on Nov 22, 2010 at 7:27 PM

These look so awesome. I wonder how'd they go with a different kind of string, like a synthetic. Maybe some glue with a little water...

Kathryn, as far as I'm aware, elmer's is a not too strong pva glue. Hope this helps smile
- by Suzanne on Nov 23, 2010 at 8:37 PM

They look like dewdrops after a spring rain...just adorable! Thanks for the post.
- by Margaret Ivory - Ivory Pearl Bridal Mall on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:26 AM

Question: Why not use Fabric Stiffener on the yarn instead of the Elmer's School Glue, Corn Starch, and Water concoction? Just curious...
- by L on Nov 29, 2010 at 10:02 AM

Amazing! I will be making these for our wedding after Christmas!! Can't wait
- by Danielle on Dec 5, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Do you think you can put lights in these?
- by Sacha on Jan 6, 2011 at 11:25 AM

you made this look so easy... i tried this and it definitely did not look this clean. /:
- by katie on Jan 11, 2011 at 2:53 AM

My after school recycled art program made these with kids last year and they were great. The kids had a wonderful time and the finished project was beautiful. @Sacha - I think you could put lights in, but regular fairy/Christmas lights might be too heavy. There are small, battery powered lights called Balloominators (sp?) that are lightweight.
- by Leah on Jan 24, 2011 at 6:41 AM

I would love to use these for my wedding instead of a regular round paper lanterns. Are the balls hard when they dry, or do they stay soft from the glue? I have a destination wedding and I'm wondering if I would be able to make these at home and ship them in a box to where my wedding reception will be. Hoping these fold in easily so I can pack them in a box... What do you think?
- by Cindy on Feb 2, 2011 at 4:19 PM

They are hard when they dry. You might try to fold one, but I doubt it will return to it's original round shape when you open it back up. If you could find some sort of elastic glue it might work, but it is doubtful. If you do find a way to make that work, we would love to hear about it or see photos! Good luck at your wedding!
- by Garett Mayfield on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:36 PM

I'm just curious how many balls the 4 oz glue-.5cup starch-.25cup water recipe makes? Also, how much string do you use up for a medium sized ball?
- by Jackie on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

It really depends on the size of the balls you are making. The same goes for the string. It all depends on how much space you want in between your strands of string. You can make the string lanterns as thick or as minimal as you like.
*1 warning though: Be careful about the amount of glue you have on your string when wrapping the balloons. When it dries, it may take you a long time to knock the extra glue that is remaining in between the strands. It can also cause the balloon to become too heavy and pop while hanging there drying.
- by Garett Mayfield on Feb 3, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Great idea, i made it too.
- by Nick on Feb 8, 2011 at 2:13 PM


Has anyone used colored string or yarn to do this?? I was thinking that if they could be covered in pastel colors and dusted with a very fine glitter they would be pretty easter decorations.

Any input??


- by Marybeth on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Yesterday I saw similar designs in my village, really inspiring stuff, thank you for sharing!!
- by Maori inspired tattoo designs on Feb 13, 2011 at 12:40 AM

Does anyone know how long these last? My wedding is in August and I'd like to make a whole bunch beforehand to save time. Also, what is the clear fast drying paint for?
- by Amy Johnson on Feb 14, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Marybeth, I love your idea of using these for an Easter decoration! If you decide to try it with a colored yarn, please send us a photo! I'd love to see how it turned out.

Amy, since making these in October, these have survived a full day outdoors, the garage, a move, and they are now hanging as lovely today in our home as they did the first day we made them! The clear fast drying paint actually helps with the durability. If you are planning on making them far in advance I would be sure to use that step! You'll have to send us a photo of them at your wedding!

Happy crafting!
- by Garett Mayfield on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:51 PM

So pretty!! I've been searching for a cheap, but elegant centerpiece for my wedding! I'm going to spray paint them in turquoise and black and stack them in vases! Thanks so much for the affordable idea!!
- by Erika Borrodell on Feb 16, 2011 at 1:24 AM

its the best party balls smile
- by Wallpaper on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:15 PM

I made these in second grade 40 years ago.
- by Joe on Feb 17, 2011 at 7:53 PM

My daughter are on there way to The Wharehouse to gather up all they need. Looks like a messy night ahead but what a cool thing to make & really pretty.
- by Louise on Feb 18, 2011 at 12:02 AM

These are so pretty; I love crafty stuff like this to hang around my dorm room.
Do you think that ModPodge could be substituted for the glue+water mixture, but still add the corn starch? I guess I'm wondering how liquidy the glue needs to be.
Also, for a more rustic look I think that using twine could be interesting. In that case though the corn starch might alter the color; otherwise Elmer's glue dries clear.
- by Caroline on Feb 21, 2011 at 12:12 AM

My daughter loves this idea. She is getting married this Christmas and these will look like snowballs hanging from the ceiling! This is a great idea and we plan to make them with a white yarn with silver threads running through it!
- by Lori on Feb 21, 2011 at 7:07 PM

How long do these last? If you dry them up do they last forever or do they eventually just kinda fall apart? I wanna make these for my dorm in college next fall to be hung in a corner above my bed.
- by Martha on Feb 28, 2011 at 12:44 AM

This was just what I was on the look for. I’ll come back to this blog for sure!
- by pavle on Mar 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I do a lot of catering, so I'll keep these in mind for the next wedding I do. Thanks! Who knew a little project I did in elementary school would be useful later? Awesome!
- by Brandon on Mar 4, 2011 at 6:44 PM

- by Cass on Mar 10, 2011 at 7:00 AM

i really want to try these! i live in south africa and we have totally different brands of glue. is elmers white school glue similar to wood glue?
- by ciara on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:14 AM

I remember we got to make these when I was in elementary school. smile
- by Amber Christmas on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Absolutely fabulous idea! Love it!
- by Cate Holst on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:55 PM

These are fabulous,
I have made these many times in the past, however instead of white glue,
I used a mixture of water and sugar. When the mixture dries it hardens up, you get the same result as with glue, just not as messy.

- by Suzanne on Mar 17, 2011 at 6:04 PM

very nice!
have a minute for the best at--->
thank you
- by akis on Mar 21, 2011 at 2:38 PM

These are beautiful. They would be really cool to hang earings from.
- by Rachel on Mar 26, 2011 at 12:42 PM

I like the idea of water and sugar. It sounds like it would dry hard to me. That is what I'm looking for. I try it the other way and didn't have much luck.
- by Vivian on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:56 PM

Looks messy & fun! I love the results, will have to try this out!
- by Angie on Mar 27, 2011 at 10:38 AM

hi i was wanting to know if this would work with ribbon??
- by mary on Apr 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM

I'm currently making these for my wedding in October. I'm using deep purple, lime green, peacock, navy and white cotton yarn. Very, very messy but LOVE THEM!!! After they dry I'm spraying them with glitter spray paint. The wedding is outside and the yarn balls will hang from the trees as our guests walk to their seats! Thanks for sharing!
- by Emily on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:46 AM

I was wondering if hairspray would work just as well as the clear spray-paint? Also, would it work to use liquid starch?
- by Sabrina on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Someone may have already asked, but is this one continuous string or do you cut the strings into lengths?
- by Patti on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:31 AM

My house is the most boring and utilitarian place you'll ever see. Now with a few of these babies around the house, it can finally graduate to "sophisticated minimalism"

- by ella on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:45 AM

I made a few to see if I want to usr them for next fall and I definitley wilk be! Going to make them now so its one less thing to worry about come next fall. I am using colored spray paint though. in addition, to me, the glue did not make it stiff enough and I had to also usr spray starch. I may just use liquid starch in place of water. Will only add water if it needs to be thinned out.
- by Jennifer Wenz on Apr 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM

is there an alternative to vaseline that can be used? for instance would crisco work? i can't find vaseline anywhere in this house.
- by gena on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:06 PM

This is very neat. I have been looking for some inspiration for my backyard deck and I think these lights would be if I can just get my crafting hat on and make these as well as you did!
- by The Ninja on Apr 27, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Such a beautiful creation!
- by Beverly on Apr 29, 2011 at 9:03 AM

I just love this. I hope you don't mind that I have included it on my blog. I will be doing these for my daughters bridal shower next month and I will post the pictures after we have finished.
Keep the great ideas coming!
- by Barb on Apr 29, 2011 at 12:10 PM

This is a bankable advise. This artefact devote utterly fondness substance.
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- by accident claims on May 3, 2011 at 1:59 AM

This is a great project. I might have to make some from for my upcoming bbq. But first needs to stop rainning. These seems messy. Thanks for sharing.
- by esther on May 3, 2011 at 11:08 AM

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