About seven years ago or so, I helped start a crafting group with my friend Oliver Lucky. It was called the Crafty Bitches and consisted of the two of us and a mutual friend. As the Crafty Bitches, we would get together on Sundays (we tried to meet consistently every week, but then we’d fall off the wagon) and enjoy a day of eating, drinking and crafting.
While it was certainly a blast, the problems were plentiful and quite obvious. We were not that great at crafting — even though we had big dreams, we seemed to fall a little short talent-wise. We didn’t always have all of the supplies we needed and often had no clue how to go about actually making some of the things we wanted to try. We also drank a lot of wine when we crafted and our ambition tended to crumble. We once decided to mainline six consecutive hours of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge instead of learning how to mosaic a stepping stone.
As more people joined the group, it became harder to manage. Everyone’s schedules were so different it was difficult to find a time when we could all get together. It was also a pain to choose a craft we all wanted to make. Finally the group disbanded, though randomly small groups of us would meet up over wine and snacks to try our hand at something new.
I do have a couple of successful hand-crafted pieces from that time: wine glass charms, beaded napkin rings, a decoupage recipe box and some scented candles. Nowadays I stick mainly to crocheting and paper crafts, but I began to see some ideas on Pinterest that inspired me to branch out.
These little balls of joy were something that originally confused me. I wasn’t too sure what they were or what they were for until I clicked the link. Then I discovered they were styrofoam balls, covered in flat-headed thumbtacks, spray painted and used as a vase filler. I was dying to make them.
It seems silly, but pretty colorful vase fillers are a simple decoration that I love. They can be tailored for holidays and seasons, and there’s just something about a big vase filled with flowers (fresh, fake or dried), potpourri or sea glass that make the house seem more festive, no matter what the time of year. Plus I have a lot of lonely vases that are collecting dust in my cabinets.
This project is especially nice because, like crocheting, it’s fairly mindless. Put on a trashy TV show and stick tacks in styrofoam. Easy! It’s also fairly cheap, especially if you look at vase fillers for sale in stores. So I took the plunge, made my shopping list and hit up Michaels.
I bought: styrofoam balls (I went fairly small about three inches in diameter, though I’m sure larger ones would look awesome), flat-headed push pins, spray paint and Mod Podge.
First take your ball and stick in push pins. Let’s start with the multi-colored pins. Start at one end and just keep going in a snail-shell pattern, slightly overlapping, until you wrap around to the other end. Don’t worry about the order of the colors, it won’t matter.
They are really ugly at first. Don’t fret though, soon they will be pretty.
Once you have completely tacked the ball, it’s time to paint it. I took out the bottom pin and stuck the whole thing on a kitchen skewer. I used a pretty green paint (color: celery, style: gloss) because I made these last fall and wanted something to contrast with all of the golds, reds and oranges in my house. I ended up loving this color although I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how long I hemmed and hawed before buying it. Once that first coat went on, I breathed a sigh of relief that the color didn’t suck.
In fact, I kind of loved it.
The next time I went to the store, I could only find silver pins which at least made me happier while I was still in the tacking phase. The bright colors were just so ugly! And the silver turned out so pretty, I couldn’t bring myself to paint over it.
I manged to get three of these done in time to nestle with my other fall decorations, which is impressive considering it was the height of pre-holiday madness. Though that’s really just confessing how much time I sat around watching television and sticking tacks in things. Whatever. My house looked pretty at least!
** The first ball I attempted actually started to disintegrate when I sprayed it with the paint. I also had some problems with the tacks coming loose. I went onto the original crafter’s website and saw a few other people had this problem too. I solved it as she suggested, by using a dear old friend of mine — Mod Podge. I did a couple of layers on the styrofoam before tacking it with pins and also a few layers afterwards to really seal everything together (only do this on the ones you will later paint). Worked like a charm.
** Be warned — this is not a project that will be done in an hour. Between the Mod Podge, tacking and drying, it will take a little while. The spray paint also took a few coats to get a nice even color so expect the project to take a least a day as the ball will need to dry in between layers.