Saturday, May 14, 2011

Adventures in doily ball making

Have you heard of Pinterest yet? It's becoming the most talked about site on blogs lately. It basically organizes all those bookmarks you have saved into a visual pin board. You can categorize them all into different sections. It's highly addictive. I have pinned 560 items so far. Wow. I'm impressed with myself. :)

Anyway. In my early pinnings, I came across this amazing DIY for a doily ball. I was determined to replicate it. I started collecting doilies from Etsy, eBay & my mom got a few for me in Germany. If you're thinking of making one of your own, I have a few tips for you.

Make sure the doilies you use are thin and light.
This makes them adhere better - all that glue really makes them heavy and you'll be cursing the laws of gravity when they start dropping like flies.

Use the right glue to avoid hours of frustration.
Plain old regular wallpaper paste works best. I didn't realize that there were so many different types of wallpaper paste. I made the mistake of buying "activator" wallpaper paste. Which is not the same- this stuff is for hanging wallpaper that has been pre-pasted and simply activates the glue. My doilies adhered ok to the balloon, but they didn't dry hard.
I wasn't able to find regular wallpaper paste here in a small quantity, so I had to improvise. I found some fabric stiffener at my local craft store and used that with the activator. The kind I used was called 'stiffy' you can buy it here. It worked, but because I had to use a lot of glue to get them to stick, there was some glue residue that dried in the doily "windows" that I had to poke out.

Buy more doilies than you think you'll need
During my first try, I ran out of doilies and had to buy more. In the mean time, my balloon started to deflate and (because I used the wrong type of glue) the doilies fell off.

So here's my finished result! It ended up being 4 feet in circumference (though I wish I had made it even larger) and weighing just under a pound. Since I did it in sections, (top part of the balloon first) it took a total of 3 days to complete. For the underside, it was a lot easier to cut it down and turn it upside down resting in a bowl to complete the bottom. I waited an extra day just to make sure it was completely dry and hard before I popped the balloon.

I would love to hear if you have tried making one of these too! Oh, and you can follow my Pinterest pins here. :)


  1. Val,
    That is beautiful! I expected something small as I was reading your blog and when I came to your pictures I was shocked. I didn't know you could make them this big. (my fav saying would normally be entered here but this is a public blog..haha). How long did it take for the glue to dry completly to pull out the balloon? You have some awesome talent can't wait for your next DIY!

    Ms. Sue~

  2. Hi Sue! :) It took a total of about 3 days for everything to dry. I went to a party store to get the balloon. Just be sure to request a large, round, latex one.

  3. Hi, Valerie! I came by way of Screaming Sardine. I see so much creativity here so can you please join us in the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop? Hope to see you there at the party :)

    Btw, I also have a party called Market Your Biz and Giveaways. Please feel free to link up to promote your business or giveaway :)

  4. I am currently in the midst of trying to create these (actually 5 of them for above the head table at my wedding!) But I have ran into the problem that the doilies keep falling off the balloon - am using lighter doilies and fabric stiffener also coated the balloon in Vaseline - you have any suggestions - do I have to do them one doily at a time and do the next after it dries? HELP!

  5. Hi burlap bride! I tried to find an email address so I could send you a message directly, but I couldn't find one. So I hope you check the messages here if you're still having problems! :)

    I tried Vaseline in the beginning too, but found that I didn't really need it and that it actually made the surface more slippery and the doilies just kept falling off.

    You might try putting the balloon in a bowl and just working on top so that the doilies don't fall off. Then just let it dry over night and finish the underside by turning it over in the same bowl. I found it worked better if I worked in sections. Just don't take too long - you don't want your balloon to deflate before you're done!

    Make sure you leave plenty of overlap too - a few days after hanging mine up, the doilies started to separate at weak points where they weren't overlapping. I had to try a few different areas on the ball before I found a part that could handle the weight and wouldn't separate.

    Let me know if you're still having problems! My email address is: :)

  6. very cool! I'm going to try soon. I originally saw this on EmmmyLizzzy blog but feel you have great tips too.. If it's ok im going to add you to my blog post on these doily lamps :)

  7. Question: Has anyone tried dying the doilies prior, so the ball is not beige? I assume the glue dries clear.