Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DIY ornament balls

I've been meaning to blog about these for a while, but I think it's harder to motivate for a technical post, and I definitely wanted to get the details right for those who were interested in doing this. First off, let me say that these were *highly* do-able, even for a DIY beginner like me!

The first order of business was to get all the right supplies. We went to our local paper source and picked out a heavy paper stock (2 sheets in each color) just so we could try a few of these. While we were there, I realized I'd probably need a cutting mat (which is essential), a heavy ruler with a cork back (also quite helpful), and lots of fresh blades for our box cutter. We already had an awl.

Back home, we cleaned our dining room table so that there was a nice open area to work with, and popped open a few beers, and turned on some music to get the mood right!

Here's a picture of our supplies!

So then, we started using the scale model instructions that I blogged about a while ago (a couple of posts down). We followed them exactly and made these cute teeny tiny ornament balls. I was pretty freaked out that I was going to mess things up, so I wasn't exactly the nicest girl for the first 5 minutes, but I mellowed out... then again, that might have been the beer!

If I have one small word of suggestion for the small ornament balls, make sure that you are using a mono-filament wire. Anything else frays! We used non mono-filament picture hanging wire, but we also knew we were only going to do a couple of these. It was still frustrating.

Next, we (and when I say we, I really mean HE) got out a clean piece of paper and some basic algebra skills to figure out how to scale these things up. The original dimensions were 1/4" by 9" strips. These made balls that were Christmas ornament size, but we wanted more like paper lantern size.

We settled on 1 inch by 21 inch strips. We (again I mean he) cut 14 of these (important that these strips are really straight) and used the awl to poke a hole in the absolute center of each strip, and 1/4 inch from each end. These work better if you really center the holes, and I was really glad I had a grid mat!

Then we used a heavy duty monofilament wire (16 gauge, though we probably could have used 18 gauge and been fine) to thread the middle of each of the strips through the wire. At this point you have to stay organized with the strips and keep taking the end of the bottom one and pulling it up and threading the end through. When you have half a ball, you continue working from the other side, always taking the bottom strip. You'll quickly see your "onion" or "sort of ball" take shape! We then bent the wire at the top, so that these wouldn't come undone once the full onion was assembled...

This recipe makes 8 inch or so balls. I think if we put a light in them, it should throw off some great shadows. We started by alternating strips blue, cream, blue, cream. However, I quickly figured that 2 blues and then 1 cream was much more to my liking! We're also planning to do this with some more vinyl like material that is more durable.

I think with many of them, rather than assemble them now, we'll just thread the center through the wire and assemble them in California so that the car isn't completely filled with ornament balls when we drive down! We practiced doing these with my friend's niece and nephew the other day, and the kids were even able to do it...

Here are a couple of the finished products.
If you have any questions, let me know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those are pretty intense! Good job!