Welcome to Day 1 of our 12 Days of Strange ornament extravaganza!
Walking around the antique mall a few weeks back – and thinking about ornament projects, of course – I suddenly had the idea for a hot air balloon ornament made from found objects. I tore open my purse and wrote HOT AIR BALLOON on a random grocery receipt in this frantic, ecstatic scrawl, as if I had just discovered a way to lose weight by sleeping until noon. It wasn’t until two days later that I finally stumbled onto pieces that were the right shape and scale. Ready for what they were? A maraca and a thimble. Who’d have thunk?
Here are the things you’ll need:
- Maracas (check eBay if you don’t have a pair lying around)
- Thimbles (one per ornament you want to make)
- Flat head screwdriver and pliers
- Jump rings and/or chain
- Pencil and eraser
- Cloth measuring tape
- Gel pens, ephemera and/or bling, as desired
Once you have your maracas, use your screwdriver to pry the handle free from the shaker.
Dump the contents of the shaker – little rocks, dried beans, petrified killer bees – into the trash. Or if you need to examine them, your hand. Or also the trash.
If there is a stopper on top, use your pliers to pull it free. This will give you a place to insert your ornament top. (And if there’s no hole, don’t worry – you can drill one later.)
If your maraca is super shiny, give a light sanding, then apply three coats of gesso. Ditto your thimble.
Once the gesso is dry, drill a hole on one side of the thimble. Slip something skinny into the hole – a sewing needle, the lead from a mechanical pencil, something that will help you see the parallel spot on the opposite side. Drill a second hole there.
You are now ready to design your balloon. (If you’d like inspiration, I recommend The Great and Powerful Google.)
When you’re ready to draw your design on the shaker, you may discover that you need a strategy for drawing straight lines, in which case, I recommend taking your pencil and making a mark where you think you want the line to go. Take your cloth measuring tape and measure from the top or bottom hole to your mark. Let’s suppose it’s .75 inches. Now move your measuring tape a little to the left, and measure 0.75 inches again – and again – marking your points as you go until you return to your original mark. You will now have a basis for sketching in your line – and a much better shot of making it a straight line than you would have otherwise.
As soon as you have finished sketching your design, you can start painting! If you draw, you can draw; if you stamp, you can stamp. You can also get a devil image from the public domain and pretend it’s Krampus. I’m just pointing this out.
(While that paint is drying, be sure to paint your thimble, too. I didn’t take pictures of that. Carry on.)
Drill holes in the bottom of the maraca, and use jump hoops to attach the balloon to the basket. As the final touch, put the top of a glass ornament in the top!