This month’s Michael’s Makers challenge was so much fun – the theme was summer party. While there were so many fun projects that came to mind, I’d always wanted to try making a fun DIY balloon weight centerpiece. And I’m so glad I did, because I love how this turned out. Plus there are so many great possibilities of words you could spell out for any special occasion or party.
What you need:
- Polymer Clay
- An Acrylic Clay Roller (you could also use a small glass vase)
- A Sharp Knife or Cutter
- Popsicle Sticks
- Printed Letters
- Parchment Paper
- Liquid Leaf
- Small Paperclips
- Wire Cutters (you can find these with jewelry tools or the floral department of Michael’s)
- A Hot Glue Gun
- A Wooden Board
What you do:
- Start by printing out large letters on your computer. Make sure to use a very wide bold font. Cut the letters out precisely with scissors.
- Knead together your clay. Polymer clay can be a little tough to work with at first because it is very hard to knead. I’ve found that Sculpey clay is pretty soft to start with. There is even a softer version you can buy, but I’ve found that it is harder to create precise shapes with softer clay.
- It’s important for this project that your clay is very flat and even. You can use large popsicle sticks, paint stirrers, or pieces of wood to help you create letters that are all the same size. I used two popsicle sticks stacked on top of each other for thickness. Roll the clay out evenly, so that your roller crosses over your popsicle stick guides on each side of your clay. (After a couple of letters, I realized that it was easier to make each letter on its own piece of parchment paper. To do this, place a medium square of parchment paper under your clay before you roll it out.
- Place one of your letter guides on top of the clay. Gently press it down so that it stays in the same place. Now use an X-ACTO knife, a box cutter, or just a kitchen knife to carefully cut out your clay along the outside edges of your letter. (NOTE: If you use kitchen utensils with polymer clay, don’t use them for food again afterwards.)
- Transfer your clay and piece of parchment paper together onto a baking sheet. Bake all of your letters in the oven according to the instructions on your clay. (Each brand has different recommended times and temperatures.)
- Let your letters cool. Use washi tape and liquid leaf (or gold spray paint) to decorate your letters.
- Take some small paperclips, and bend the middle piece forward. Use wire cutters to cut off the top hoop. Flip over your letters and use a hot glue gun to attach these hooks to the tops of your letters. (You could also insert the paperclip hooks into the tops of the clay letters before you bake them. This will make the backs of the letters look prettier, but I’ve found it’s a little hard to do without accidentally squishing the letters a little bit.)
- Space out your letters along your piece of wood. Use a pencil to lightly mark where your letters will be. I used an unpainted 2×2 board and I love how it turned out. I spaced my letters pretty close together so the balloons all squished together. You could also space them out a lot further to separate the balloons a little bit.
- Use a hot glue gun to attach your letters to the board. I wasn’t quite sure how sturdy they would be, but this method worked really well. Just make sure that you use an ample amount of hot glue so that it surrounds the bottoms of the letters. Also make sure that you hold each letter steady for about 30 seconds until the hot glue has had time to cool and harden.
- And you’re done! Tie your balloon strings to each of the letters and enjoy your DIY balloon weight.
I also picked up some colorful balloons and a helium tank and Michael’s. I used to think that helium tanks were really expensive, but it’s actually cheaper than getting balloons at the grocery store. Plus, you don’t have to deal with transporting a bunch of balloons in your car.
I spelled out the word HOORAY because it’s perfect for any occasion. However there are so many other fun words you could spell out on your balloon weight: the name of the birthday boy or girl, the age they are turning, happy birthday, congratulations, you did it, yay, party, celebrate, oh yeah, and so many more! What would you spell out – I’d love to hear!
Check out the other Michael’s Makers’ summer party projects here: