Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hand made outdoor ornaments tutorial

Check it ... I came up with an idea to make outdoor ornaments and they came out fairly cute.

Ok ok I know the decorating isn't put up very well but I just wanted to get it up to see how it looks ... so just look at it slightly out of focus and it looks great!

They were constructed from Great Stuff foam insulation and balloons.

First blow up a balloon to about 3/4 it's max ... just pinch the end, don't seal it.

Then insert the spray foam nozzle into the opening (make sure your can of foam is already shaken up) ... you will lose a little air while doing this but that's ok, that's why you blew it up fairly large in the first place.
Fill the balloon with foam to your desired size.  I would advise to never fill the ballon more than half it's max size.  Spray foam expands and even though you will be sealing off the air and basically cutting off it's ability to expand, it's best not to temp fate and push it to the max. 

After you fill with foam, let the air out down to where the balloon directly surrounds/touches the foam.  Tie off the balloon in a knot and hang it or set it where it won't roll... it will take 24 hours to firm up. 
Over those 24 hours almost all of the foam in the balloon is going to harden... but there is going to be one spot that will still be soft.  You then take a pin or a toothpick and poke a hole in the soft spot.  I'm no Great Stuff scientist but I imagine that maybe this is where an air bubble forms and the foam is not able to firm up ... so poking a hole or two in the spot allows the air to release.  You will have to wait another 24 hours to let all of the air release on it's own ... some foam will escape through the hole, that's ok, most of the pressure is gone by now and this is a small amount.

After about 24 hours the foam should be completely hardened, with no more seepage.  Then come the hardest part ... it takes some patience and persistence but it can be done ... peeling the balloon off.

Pull on tie-off spot to release it from the foam... then cut it to let some air in.  After that it's just a matter of working your way around.  One thing that I noticed was that came off easier if I stretched the balloon rather than peeled it.  Note that not every balloon will come off easily and you can either use some Goof Off, or if it gives you a hard enough time, just toss it.

I tossed the one above... I don't know what happened with it, but it wasn't worth me trying to peel.

This one came out nicely.

I used an upholstery needle to thread 24 gauge floral wire through where I wanted it to hang from.

Then it's just a matter of clipping the wire and painting the foam to look like ornaments.  I used Plaid Outdoor paint and coated all ornaments with spray poly.
These that I have made are very roughly/poorly painted because I wasn't even sure if it was going to turn out well... so I just did them up half-heartedly ... but there is a lot of potential to tweek and craft these many different ways.

In the end, I'm very happy with how they turned out!

Now a couple of tips on what NOT to do:

Above is what the foam looks like if you don't let the air out of the balloon ... not good for ornaments... but they will make nice brains at halloween.

Do Not poke the balloon before the foam hardens.  The picture above shows 2 balloons that busted open on me.  The pink one on the right splattered as far as 10 feet away, the orange one second from the left was slightly kinder and left a splatter trail only about 3 feet wide.   I know, 'duhhhh!'

Anyone who has worked with Great Foam knows that it's not all that fun to scrape off of things.

BTW ... I originally came up with this idea at Halloween time and was going to use the balloon foam to make spiders and fat bats (you can see a spider in the making in the background of a picture to the 
mom-cave post .)  An added bonus though, you can keep the foam bits that seep out the air holes and turn them into creepy-crawlies for Halloween!

But at the moment ... it's Christmastime and these ornaments are holding my attention ;)

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  1. these are amazing!! what a great idea!

  2. What a great idea - I would NEVER have thought of using great stuff!!!! Definitely will have to try that next year! they turned out really cute

  3. Congratulations Admin! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.
    spray foam insulation marietta

  4. How many balloons can you make per can of foam??

  5. Hi! These ornaments are awesome! I'm thinking about making some for my front porch. Do you still have yours? I wondered if they lasted long. Have you made any other projects using spray foam? I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

  6. Thanks for sharing your how to. For years I've thought about trying this. You really offered some good tips. I have a question, would coating the inside of the balloon help to release the balloon from the foam.

  7. Thank you for sharing. I want to use this method to create aquarium decor. Now I can do it without the trial and error phase =]

  8. Thank you for sharing. I want to use this method to create aquarium decor. Now I can do it without the trial and error phase =]

  9. Thank you for sharing. I want to use this method to create aquarium decor. Now I can do it without the trial and error phase =]

  10. Thank you for sharing. I want to use this method to create aquarium decor. Now I can do it without the trial and error phase =]

  11. I want to use punching balls size and put them in my redwood tree when they are done.. do you think the would harden at the same rate or would they need more days?

  12. Just before reading this...I had the thought of getting the mini balloons and filling them with the expanding foam...and using those to replace the mulch for the flower beds...thoughts??