Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sweet Gum Balls!

Sounds yummy, right? NOT! How many of you have cursed these prickly things after stepping on them barefoot? Ouch! I've always hated them because they are EVERYWHERE in the south.

I love to take my morning walks with my youngest and little Scottie dog. Where I walk there's a pond and it's where I find tons of inspiration. Nature is amazing! As I tell my kids, "Is God not the most incredible artist?". I'm trying to teach them to look at things in a different light...not just as a weed or tree, but at the form, color, texture, etc. to appreciate the beauty around them. So, one day while on my walk, I had an epiphany! Have you ever really looked at one of those hated spiky things?

image via
Talk about texture and form! Suddenly, I was in love. My mind started to race with all the things I might could do with these things that up until then, had always been nothing short of a pain in the rear. Seriously, how many of us have stepped on one of these things barefooted as a kid?!

So, I took a "green" shopping bag and on my next walk, filled it up. When I got home, I got out the hot glue, spray paint, burlap and wreath form. This is what came out of it:

Now, let me just say, this one has seen better days. With three boys (not including neighborhood kids) going in and out of this door (it's the door from the garage to outside) a million times a day, SLAMMING it like there's an ax murderer after them, it's nothing short of miracle that it still looks as good as it does! It's been hanging on this door now for about two years - enough time to learn what works and what doesn't. I have learned an important tip...don't use a Styrofoam wreath form on a door that gets used a lot! I can't tell you how many times I've re-glued balls knocked off from a slamming door. Urrr....!

It's also a good idea to put some sticky adhesive of some sort (I like the reusable Handitack) at the base to keep it from swinging with the door.
That said, wanna see how to make one (it's not rocket science!)?

**I'm going to go ahead and put in a disclaimer here...little guy has been sick with croup and Mommy's playing catch-up. I accidentally left my camera set on standard picture quality and some of the images are grainy. I also forgot the watermark. Sorry! I need some sleep!**

Step one:
Gather your supplies.

1. straw wreath form - I left the plastic on mine
2. hot glue and gun
3. a reusable shopping bag FULL of sweet gum balls
4. fabric of choice (I used garden grade burlap cut into 2-3" strips)
5. wide ribbon to hang it with  (I cut burlap into strips so it wasn't so tailored)
6. needle nose/wire cutting pliers
7. spray paint (I used Valspar's Summer Leaf Green)
8. drop cloth or some kind of plastic/fabric to lay it on to paint
9. gloves - optional (I can't work with thick gloves on)

Step two:
Cut fabric or burlap into strips (5x or more) approximately 3" wide.

Step 3: 
Attach one end of burlap to wreath with glue,
wrap around and hot glue end to wreath.
Continue until wreath is completely wrapped.

Fully wrapped straw wreath. Ready for sweet gum balls!

 Step 4:
Use needle-nose pliers wire cutter to trim off all the stems.

Step 5:
Start hot gluing balls to wreath form.
  • If you work from left to right (if right handed and vise-versa if left handed), you'll be able to better control all those irritating hot glue "strings" by dragging gun over the open burlap/fabric area rather than back over your freshly glued balls.
  • Put the glue on the wreath, not the ball. If you put it on the ball, it runs down into the spikes and doesn't adhere as well (plus you'll use a TON of glue).

Step 6:
Spray paint that baby!
(or not if you'd prefer the natural look)!

See the strings above? THAT'S why you don't want to have them. They show up big-time with spray-paint!

Step 7:
Cut a piece of burlap if you want a rough look, or use ribbon to wrap around the wreath to create a hanger or bow or ....whatever your heart desires.
(I tried two looks just for the heck of it.)

I like simple, but if you wanted you could jazz it up. I also love the way burlap yellows over time from exposure. This one is still fresh.

Step 8:
Hang and enjoy!

So, now go make you one of these beauties! Oh, and don't be surprised if you have sore finger tips the next day. If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll give you an answer asap:)

Have fun!
Miss Bee


  1. Unreal!!! This was such a creative idea!

  2. seriously fabulous idea!! I've already purchased my wreath and plan to collect the "gum balls" tomorrow with my son. This is the first time Ill ever be excited to have these things in my yard!! :)

  3. We must be neighbors! Finally, a use for swet gum balls. I don't have a blog to link back to, but am following by email, now. Saw your table listed and almost sent you an email then - before I saw it on Before and After. Would love to know if your fabric "place" is Tony's or the that once a month sale I haven't managed to get over to. I live between Tony's and the Tony's Outlet. Digging your style! ~Shannon

  4. I love this idea! My neighbor and I hope to make one soon! I just made pinecone trees today to decorate for Christmas.

  5. So when a lovely bare-footed child steps on one, anyone know how to get the prickles out of the bottom of their feet? We have soaked and soaked, but they are still deep in the foot.

  6. So when a lovely bare-footed child steps on one, anyone know how to get the prickles out of the bottom of their feet? We have soaked and soaked, but they are still deep in the foot.

    1. Yes, that happened to us, too. We tried with tweezers and managed to get one out, but the rest are so tiny it's practically impossible.

    2. They still make the old fashioned drawing salve, put a dab on, cover with bandage, leave for a day or more, it should pull the sticker to the surface. Worked for my kids with splinters.

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