Update: for basket embellishments, see here.
I hope everyone had a great Valentine's day!
Max and I made these little fabric baskets for him to take to daycare to share with the other kids. We made them using the standard papier mache technique, but used flannel strips instead. Then we put some (healthy) candies and a valentine's heart inside each. They're amazingly durable, I think you'd have to jump on it to crush it.
For a mom-and-toddler craft, I'd rate this as pretty good but potentially messy. Max decided very quickly that he didn't like the gooey feel of the glue stuff, so he didn't do that part. But he helped enthusiastically with everything else. He helped cut the fabric, he dropped the fabric pieces into the glue, he brought me balloons to cover, he popped and pulled out the balloons, and he stuffed treats inside. If he had gotten into the actual business of covering the balloon with the wet-sticky strips, it might have been more of a mess. But it's all water soluble, so it cleans up easily.
Here's Max, delivering the Valentine baskets:
These are the second generation of a craft that I tried at Valentine's day two years ago. I made Megan's tiny pinatas out of tissue paper and stuffed them with little toys and candies. I did these by myself at about midnight on Valentine's eve. Max was 2 then, I don't know if he would have gotten into it. He and I hadn't done much crafting together at that point, I was still pretty uptight about the concept of plastering the house with glue. I'm more relaxed now--and yet, the house is still glue-free. Obviously I was just too uptight. Here's a pic of the tiny pinatas:
I don't have any tips besides Megan's on these tiny pinatas. Since I made them so long ago, I don't remember much. But I do have a little tutorial for the fabric version that we made this year. These would also be nice for Easter, or pretty much any time of the year. Just use different fabrics.
Please click through for the tutorial...
Fabric mache baskets
For 10 balloons, I used about 1/2 to 3/4 yd (total) of three different fabrics and half a box of Elmer's art paste. There are also lots of recipes online for homemade papier mache paste, but I haven't tried any.
Rather than run around the house with sticky hands trying to dig some key thing out of a closet, prep everything first. Blow up all the balloons. After the balloons are gooped up, you'll be putting them on top of the cups to dry. If using plastic or waxed paper cups, you may want to cut the bottoms off if they're so tall that they're tippy. Note: you can't use strips of construction paper taped into a circle. The paper gets wet from the glue that drips down from the balloon. Then the paper collapses and the balloon tips over and rolls across the table, sliming everything in its path.
Cut/tear your fabric into strips. I tore mine into long strips because I wanted the slightly fuzzy edge that comes from tearing. Just snip at one selvedge of the fabric and tear across. For width, I'd suggest varying widths, wider than about 1.5 inches. Thinner than this and the fabric may curl onto itself and you'll have to unroll it once it's been dunked in the paste. But you'll have to unroll/unfold anyway, so perhaps this isn't such a big deal. I found that the length of the pieces is very important: don't cut them too short! A good length is about 5-6 inches, or long enough to lay over the top of the balloon and reach most of the way down to where you want the bottom edge to be. I tried this with smaller pieces, thinking that a patchwork would be nice. Perhaps, but the small pieces (2-4 inches) just slid off the balloon. I kept on pasting them back up as they dried, but eventually I had to go to sleep and during the night they thumbed their little fabric noses at me and finished their slide off the balloon. See evidence here:
Strips that are too long are annoying too, but much less so than strips that are too short. With long ones, I always found myself wondering where to put the rest of the fabric after I had covered the section I had intended to cover with the first half of the strip. But that's not such a big deal. Here are my long strips, from my first batch, waiting to be glued on:
These are about 9 or 10 inches long. I thought these were a little too long, but not so bad. As you can see in this picture, I also tried including some eyelash yarn, but I didn't like the way it turned out. It looked like I had glued wet eyelash yarn to the baskets, which is true but not all that appealing.
OK, back to preparation. Mix your glue. The Elmer's Art Paste is a powder (you can see it in the plastic bag) that you're supposed to mix with water, then let it sit for 15 minutes. So I did that. This amount of glue was good for 5 balloons. I had to mix another batch to do the other 5. Fabric soaks up a lot of glue, apparently.
Next, cover your work space. I made two separate areas: one for pasting on and one for drying. It took these about 2 days to dry (even here in the desert), so set aside an area you won't be needing for a while. I suggest putting something waterproof down first, then cover that with newspaper (or not). I used just newspaper, but the gloop soaked through and now newsprint is permanently adhered to our table. For the pasting area, just a few layers of newspaper should do. I also got out several towels so Max and I could wipe the glue off our hands.
I think that's it. Now you're ready to...
Place a balloon on a cup, top (where the tie is) down, next to your bowl of paste. Toss in a few fabric strips, dunk them down into the glue. Pick up a strip, swipe off as much extra paste as you can, then lay the strip on top of the balloon. Repeat with other strips, covering the balloon as much as you want. Remember that you'll need to get stuff in, so leave a big enough opening at the balloon top (which is now on the bottom). I covered mine about 2/3 of the way down. My strip-laying technique was to put a long one over the top first, then one to either side of it, then rotate around and fill in holes. I suspect this doesn't matter much.
Move this balloon and cup to your drying area, then repeat with the next balloon.
I tried both single-fabric balloons, and mixing all three fabrics on one balloon. I like them both, but perhaps the single-fabric ones a wee bit better. Here are my drying balloons:
This was my first batch of balloons, note that they're drying on construction paper rings, not cups like I suggested above. Did you wonder how I knew that paper rings don't work?
We made these Sunday at about noon, the outsides were dry Tuesday morning. You may need to rotate the balloons (to knot side up) while they're drying, it the bottom of the fabric slumps against the cup that part might not dry well.
Pop the balloons!
After the outsides are dry, you can hold pop the balloons and pull them out. After the balloons are out you may need to let the insides dry more. We tried a hair dryer because we were short on time. This did dry the insides, but as it was drying the fabric peeled off a little, so I'd suggest air drying.
I used a flower-shaped paper punch and punched a hole on either side of the basket. Then I threaded a wide ribbon through and tied a knot to hold it.
Fill with treats! And now you're done!
I was thinking that I would sew on embellishments after they were dry, but I ran out of time. However, I think that the fabric is now too stiff to sew anything on (comfortably). But I have a few more of these baskets left at home, I may try this tonight. Another thing you could do would be to hot glue on some embellishments. Flowers, ribbon, etc. You might also try sprinkling on some glitter while the paste is still wet. All sorts of possibilities!!
If anyone tries this, I'd love to see your creations, just drop me an email (or leave a comment here) with your link or some pictures please! I'm at zhinkadinkadoo AT gmail DOT com.