Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gumballs Gone Glam

As guests arrived for daughter Emma's recent gumball-themed birthday party, we invited them to take a few moments to make gumball necklaces and bracelets -- an idea inspired by this post at One Charming Party. I set up a little table with four chairs in our kitchen, ready with gumballs, ribbon and crewel needles. (I purchased knitting needles for this project, but they didn't work as well as the crewel needles.)

To make a gumball machine like the one pictured above, turn a clay pot upside down and glue a round vase to the bottom of the pot. Turned upside down, the dish a pot sits in becomes a lid to cover the top of the vase. Slip that on top, and glue a knob to the center of the lid. Use a solvent like E-6000 if you want to make a permanent bond. Knowing I might want to disassemble this project, I used hot glue. I found shiny ceramic pots in green, yellow and turquoise at Wal-Mart and a variety of ceramic knobs at World Market. A festive bow completes the look.

Since Emma was turning 5, I let party guests choose five gumballs to make a bracelet or necklace. I used a metal skewer to pierce traditional gumballs to make the beads. Piercing the gumball straight through makes it crack. But even piercing one side, then the other, can also make it crack. Out of 150 gumball beads that I made, probably only 10 to 20 percent of them were perfectly pierced. But even with a few hairline cracks in some of the gumballs, the bracelets turned out precious.


I pre-cut 22-inch lengths of ribbon and stashed them in an apothecary jar so they were ready to go at party time. I thought grosgrain ribbon would be adorable for this project, but found it too thick to pass through the gumballs without cracking them. So I used a variety of widths of softer ribbons I had in my stash. Wider ribbons are cute for this project because you can knot the ribbon between each gumball, but thinner ribbons can be strung quickly.

Each bracelet or necklace turned out so cute, and even some of the adults at the party got in on the fun. One mother made a charming multi-colored beaded necklace for herself, and our friend Miss Haley made a pretty knotted bracelet with white gumballs on sheer green polka dotted ribbon.

Directions. Setting up supplies on a small table allowed us to assist a few girls at a time in making their jewelry. Our preschool-age guests definitely needed adult supervision and assistance to use the needle.

To make the bracelet, thread ribbon through the eye of a crewel needle. String the first bead onto the ribbon.

If you plan to put a knot between each gumball, slide the first bead to the center of the ribbon. Make a knot on each side of the gumball, and work out from this center point. This will keep the length balanced on each side. Finish the bracelet or necklace with a bow.

If you do not knot the ribbon, you can thread all the gumballs on and thread the ribbon back through the loop again before tying a bow to make the bracelet adjustable.

Guests Lauren and Claire show off their gumball glam with a necklace and bracelet.

We're having a ball this week on A Little Loveliness -- a gumball, that is. So join me for more bubblegum birthday party ideas each day!
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