yarn balloons

N is a big fan of balloons (like most earthlings) so we blew up a few little ones the other day to play.

leave the balloon blowing to the grown-ups

i remembered i had seen a cool post on ordinary life magic back in the spring involving balloons, yarn, glue, and water. i just love projects that involve the stuff i already have in the house. i thought it’d be fun to try this project outside the other day with our balloons. easy enough, right? well, read on…

if you look at the ordinary life magic post, you’ll see these lovely “yarn eggs” that the hardened-by-glue yarn left behind after the balloons popped. i was excited to end up with some of these skeletal orbs, and had some cool ideas for what we might do with them. so we got started… first, dip a 3 foot long (or so) strand of yarn into a mixture of craft glue and water. during the process, we made several mixtures of the craft glue (i used both elmer’s glue-all and aleen’s original tacky glue intermittently to use up the last of two bottles i had laying around the art room.)

then just begin to wrap the wet, sticky yarn around a partially blown up balloon.

after the balloons were all wrapped in lovely yarn scraps, we hung them in the playhouse to drip dry overnight. (if you’re doing this inside or over a floor you care about, be sure to put a towel down or do it over the bathtub.)

the next day we checked on the balloons, and attempted the next step… pop balloon and peel it away from the yarn. cool, i came prepared with a thumbtack. it was a snap, pop, then crackle moment. as the balloon deflated, it crackled as it took the yarn with it, imploding slowly. no pretty yarn orb.

deflated. :(

i tried peeling the balloon away from the yarn, but it was harder to do on some balloons than others. perhaps the ones with a thicker glue mixture were more stubborn? here are the sad results we got.

so i wrote to stephanie over at ordinary life magic and asked how she got the lovely results she got in an effort to learn where we might have gone wrong. here was her answer: “ours did that, too – some more than others. i just poked my fingers through the egg, and reshaped the ones that had deflated. you could probably use a spoon or something if you wanted to. they’ll stay if they sag and you reshape them, and then as they dry over days they’ll keep the reshaping.” good tips, though i think it was a little late for our yarn tangles, honestly.

we’ll try again another time, but i always like to post these art-gone-wrong experiences so you all can see our trials and errors. it’s also a nice example of the idea that in art, products are often unpredictable, so it’s all about the process! sometimes the materials dictate what they want to become, and we have the opportunity here to honor that and curb our attachment to results. we can model this for little ones who either can become frustrated and disappointed when art doesn’t turn out how they imagined OR were honestly not as goal-oriented as we were from the beginning, and probably just had fun playing with balloons and sticky goop. for me, the most satisfying part of this was indeed the process…  seeing our balloons all lined up outside on the line to dry was just lovely…

and seeing my little one’s mind excitedly expand to include the idea of using balloons for art materials was priceless!



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  • I thought that I had read somewhere to use liquid starch.(We use the liquid starch straight from the bottle). We do a lot of projects with liquid starch and I don’t think the balloon would stick to the yarn. I might just try it out and let you know.

  • You can try to deflate them slowly putting some tape on baloon, and punching it with needle. That way you can controle it by closing the hole with finger and have more time to remove baloon from yarn if it gets sticky again.

  • amy

    We just did this the other day! 🙂 We used string and balloons and elmer’s glue. The directions from the mary ann kohl book said to use liquid starch but we didn’t have any. I had to reform the shapes a bit after i popped the balloon but it worked ok.

  • Thought I would stop by and drop you a line. You have inspired so much creative, artful fun in our home. Thank you so much. Stop by here and again. cowsgomooandducksgoquack.blogspot.com More to copy soon. =) I have a list, seriously. =)


  • Barbara Zaborowski

    We did this several years ago in preschool and had similar results. So we started adding much more yarn of various colors. It leads to the same result, but we like it and do it every year now. I’m thinking of trying the starch, too, but not sure I’d like perfect orbs as much as I like our unpredictable results.

  • just tried this yesterday and i coated the balloon with vaseline first–going to pop it soon; wonder how it will turn out?

  • jen

    oooh, dana – please report back and let us know! that’s a good idea…

  • jhaley

    we used a light coating of vasaline on the balloons and they didnt stick and the yarn stayed where it had dried!!!

  • awesome tip! we’ll have to try that next time!

  • Eve

    Thanks for the “didn’t work” post! I love the pics.

    I followed these instructions (http://blog.hwtm.com/2012/01/diy-tutorial-creative-yarn-chandelier/) and it worked most of the time.

    Did you wait until the yarn was crispy?

    So far, only one of our orbs collapsed and I think it’s because I used a thicker yarn and didn’t make sure it absorbed the glue mixture enough. Also, it seems like maybe you can’t have big gaps between the yarn…I’ve had the best success with balloons that had lots of yarn coverage.

    Finally, I sprayed the balloons with dry spray silicone (I happened to have some on hand from an upholstery project) beforehand AND I poked the balloon with my finger on several sides (to break the connection between the balloon and string) prior to popping.

    Good luck with your next batch!

  • catherine

    I use just glue.. and let them dry for four days.. and POP ! It comes out perfect