Thursday, October 20, 2011

Art Project #4 - String Pumpkins and Gourds

One of my earliest school memories is doing a project in which we wrapped string dipped in glue around a balloon in various patterns. When the glue dried, we popped the balloon and had a hollow string sculpture to display. While exploring Pinterest the other day, I was reminded of this simple project and thought it would be the perfect platform to make some pumpkin and gourd decorations for our home.

Project Title: Pumpkin and Gourd String Art
Materials Needed: orange and yellow cotton yarn or string, school glue, a shallow pan such as a cake pan or pie pan, several balloons, and glitter (optional). For finishing, you may want some green ribbon and decorative silk leaves.
Purpose: To work with the basic premises of sculpture and 3D art; to understand importance of structure to a 3D work of art.
First, gather your supplies. Blow up your balloons until they are a nice round or slightly oval shape, being careful not to make them too big. (If you want ornament-sized pumpkins and gourds, use water balloons.) Blow up a few extra balloons to entertain the 3-year-old.
Next, cut your string. Measure around your balloon with the string, leaving a little extra for overlap and cut. Use that string to cut many more pieces of the same size in both yellow and orange. Then make your glue mixture. The recipe I used called for one part glue to two parts water. I think it certainly could have used more glue - I would do one part glue to one part water next time. If you are a glitter lover like myself, whisk in some sparkly glitter into the mixture. This is a good opportunity for everyone to get a chance to "help."
After covering your work surface abundantly with newspaper or an old tablecloth, begin covering your balloon with string. Dip one string into the glue mixture until the entire string is completely soaked. Wrap the wet string around your balloon, making sure that the ends overlap a little. Continue wrapping soaked strings around the balloon, making sure to cover large spaces so there will be no big holes in the sculpture. I found that my young ones, including my kindergartener, struggled with this. They all wanted to bunch up the yarn or toss it haphazardly across the balloon. This is a good time to explain why it needs to be tightly wrapped and spaced out in order for the structure to survive. It is also a good time to help so that frustration doesn't last. Art is supposed to be fun!
Keep wrapping your balloon until you are satisfied with the coverage. If you are not sure, "overdo" it!
Here is a good example of what your balloon should look like, although I would have covered some of those holes even more. Leave the balloons on the newspaper to dry. When the strings on the top of the balloon feel dry, turn the balloon over so that the underside strings have a chance to dry also. We did ours on a Friday afternoon, and they were completely dry by Saturday morning. Next, carefully pop the balloons and remove the broken balloon from inside your string sculpture. Three of our sculptures didn't make it - they collapsed into a stiff pile of string due to inadequate coverage or too much bunching. Also, I think the glue mixture was a little weak, as I mentioned before.
Tie another piece of string to the top of your gourd or pumpkin sculpture for hanging. We then used a short piece of green ribbon and a decorative silk leaf tied to the top to make them truly look like pumpkins and gourds. I think they would be just as cute with just the green ribbon or perhaps some green felt leaves glued on.

And then be sure to hang up your creations! We are definitely going to revisit this project again at Easter time and make pastel eggs to decorate our home. By the way, if you insert a small wrapped candy or prize inside the balloon before you blow it up, your sculpture will have a fun surprise center!


  1. I remember making these too! They look great! That would be a fun rainy day project to do with my kids. Guess I better go buy some balloons and yarn. And glue. I've already got plenty of glitter. :)

  2. Oh, super cute! I'm storing these ideas for when the babies get older! ; )

  3. This is a cool project; reminds me of papermache pinatas. Your house looks very well decorated for fall. Happy upcoming Halloween.


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