Once I got started with the paper mache, I couldn’t quite stop myself. I came up with a technique for the big decor balls that worked really great – Mixing the paint right into the glue. It gives a super saturated color and saves another messy step and more drying time. So I had to keep going with this other idea I had.
Those party lights you see at the store are so expensive for what you get. 30 little lights for $25 doesn’t go very far before adding up to a whole lot of money for a festive atmosphere. These party lights are removable, so you can use an existing string of Christmas lights and then just take them off when it’s time to use on the tree. If I did the math I’d guess that for a string of 30 lights, I spent about $3.
Start with some water balloons, blown up just big enough to be round. I used two pieces of masking tape to prop it up – one secures the tail to the table, the other pushes against that little knot to keep the balloon from touching the table. Make sure you tie your knots are good and tight, these little balloons leak pretty easily and you want to make sure that you get all your layers on and dry before these balloons start shrinking. Working in small batches makes this a lot easier.
Mix up your glue. It should be about 1 part paint, 2 parts glue, and 3 parts water. But that is no where near scientific. Just water your glue down so that it’s easy to paint with, and then add enough acrylic craft paint to get it the colors you want.
Add the paper mache. You want to use white tissue paper for this so that the light will still shine through after you add all your layers. Tear it into small little bits. The smaller the bits, the fewer wrinkles you’ll get, but it will also be a whole lot harder. So choose your poison.
After a little experimentation, I think that three layers is just right for this project. Let them dry a while between layers, but not overnight until they’re all on. You will be fighting the clock against the strength of your balloons, so you’ll need to get all three layers on in one day. A blow dryer on the cool setting works great in a pinch.
Put a plastic ring in your hot glue, making sure that there are spaces in between the ring and the paper mache. These rings are used in crochet, so look in the aisle with the knitting needles, or the sewing notions. I found these ones at Michaels in the section with the quilting supplies.
The next time I make these I’ll take the rest of my paint and glue mixtures and paint that ring at this point to make it blend it. It’s not an important step, but those white rings are bugging me now.
Take a little bit of florists wire and thread it through that space we left so that it wraps around the plastic ring. I used green because it will match the string of lights I’m using. Put another bit of wire on the other side of the ring.
Since lights made for Christmas trees tend to have their lights closer together than the strings of party lights, I put a paper mache bulb on every other light on the strand. I think this actually adds to the effect, it makes it sparkly and festive at the same time.