Erm, Happy New Year! It's probably time I got Christmas crafts off the front page, right? So lets decorate balloons! Valentine's Day has passed, but these are an any-occasion craft and seeing as we're entering one of my family's major party seasons (March to July we pretty much have a birthday a week), I thought these gold-leaf pretties might work well at my two littlest girls birthday parties - one of whom is four in a few weeks and the other who will be celebrating her very first birthday at the end of March! Already!
Customise as you see fit - a number or initial for the birthday girl or boy, spots, stripes or other patterns for other occasions. Knock yourself out! We chose hearts for Valentine's Day, because what else would you do on a holiday of the heart?! Here's how to DIY...
Balloons - we chose a few colours and had the helium added at the party shop. In my head the purple was navy but they didn't have any (how dare they ruin my plans).
Contact paper - the thinner the better. We used clear
Sizing (glue for gold leaf. I've used regular glue with gold leaf before and it's worked fine, but I'm not sure how it would go on the balloon.)
1. Cut the stencil out of the contact paper - I cut a large heart for the clear balloon and lots of smaller hearts for the white one. Cut around the shape so you don't have a lot of excess trim - the less sticking to the balloon, the better.
2. For the glitter hearts, remove the backing and stick randomly over the balloon. For the larger heart, it's a bit trickier as the balloon is round so the contact paper won't mould to it. So, start at the bottom point and gently stick it to the balloon from the bottom up. Try and move your way up evenly on both sides. As you get to the top, you'll realise you have too much contact paper and it will bubble, so keep smoothing it out and push the "bubble" towards the middle and then pinch it at the top and centre of the heart (see second image below). It will create an even heart but slightly narrower than what you cut.
3. Paint on your sizing, being careful not to go beyond your contact paper stencil's border - just a light coat is all you need. If you're using glitter, you can sprinkle on immediately while the glue is wet. If you're using gold leaf, wait a few minutes until it is tacky before applying. Too wet and the gold leaf will just slip off the balloon. Once tacky, gently smooth over your gold leaf. You may need more than one sheet, just apply all over - it will only stick to the sizing. Smooth out any bumps and leave to dry for a few minutes.
4. Once dry, use your finger or a soft brush to brush away any excess gold leaf. I just rubbed the gold leaf all over - especially around the edge of the stencil - with my fingers. Do it bit by bit - don't rush the stencil removal as you can pop the balloon! Do it slowly and pull away from the gold leaf, not into it as it may remove some of the leaf from the heart. You can also remove the stencil before you apply the gold leaf - I tried both and they both worked. For the glitter hearts, blow or shake off excess glitter and remove the stencils, again going slowly!
5. All done! If you want a simple balloon topper too, we did this for Steve's birthday balloons: cut three different sized hearts from glitter paper and cut two slits in each heart. Then simply slide them over the string and up to the balloon - biggest to littlest.
Immy and I made up a bunch of these balloons on Valentine's Day and she decided to part with one for her little friend Kai. So we got in the car with matching blue (for him) and clear (for her) heart balloons and POP! Kai's busted. So she grabbed another one and off we went (below). When she finally got to hand it over, I was just about to say "you might want to tie it to your wrist" and .... he let it go! And boy, did it go! It was halfway to heaven in .45 seconds. That helium is fast-flying stuff! He didn't mean to and was sad to watch it fly away, but it was a sweet moment nonetheless!
And Valentine's Day or not, those girls of mine were totally obsessed with their balloons - from painting the glue and sprinkling the glitter to tying them to anything and everything and pretending to float away with them, they utilised a good majority of the 24 hours or so the helium lasted!
PS: The purple balloon was just randomly painted with sizing at the base of the balloon and then the gold leaf applied to the brushstroke, which gives it that nice painted effect.