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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Medieval Shield and Gettin' Crafty

Happy Pi Day!!!  3.14

I forgot to share the the cake I made over the weekend.  A friend of mine was taking her son to see Medieval Times for his birthday and wanted a cake to look like a Medieval Shield.  She sent a picture of one she found on the computer that was great, but didn't look very realistic.  Thankfully, she let me have some artistic freedom, and I came up with something a little more intricate.  Here you go!

And yes, it is all completely edible.  All of the pieces are carved/sculpted by hand.  It took a little while to get the color right, but I'm really pleased with the way it turned out! 

So, I was feeling pretty crafty yesterday.  It happens on occasion.  Mostly with cakes, but when I've got a burr in my saddle who knows what will happen.  I have to tell you that I am completely addicted to pinterest.  If you haven't joined pinterest yet, beware!  If you have, then you know exactly what I'm talking about!!!

I've seen so many of these yarn balls all over the internet, and everyone seems to have a different method of creating them.  I read so many good reviews about a particular method and then so many bad ones, so I decided to give it a go, and see what happens.  I based my method off keytoflow.  She uses a paper mache base for making her yarn balls.  I've also seen them made with an Elmer's Craft Glue/water mixture and some made with liquid fabric starch.  They didn't quite seem as successful to me.  I made my yarn balls for spring decorations, but had originally "pinned" it to use in the fall, and then I think I "pinned" it again at Christmas.  You can see how much I procrastinated.
You'll need various colors of yarn, balloons, wax paper, flour & sugar.

In a medium sized pot, bring 1C water to a boil.

In a separate bowl, mix 1C cold water with 1/4 C flour.

Add flour mixture to boiling water, stirring until smooth.  Bring back to boil.
Remove from heat and add 1 1/2T sugar.  Allow mixture to cool.
Here's where it gets tricky!  I tried several methods here and the best seemed to be piling a really long section of yarn in the pot covering yarn completely, then pulling yarn through my fingers to get excess mix off and loosely piling on wax covered counter.  I don't have a picture of this method because you can imagine what my fingers looked like at the time.
Once yarn is coated with paper mache mixture, begin wrapping it around the balloon.  I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do this.  For me, I wanted my balloons to be pretty covered, so it took a good bit of yarn.  Make sure to tuck ends in.
Now, there are several different things you can do at this point.  Most methods have you sit the covered balloon on a wax covered cookie sheet and let sit for a day or two.  Some hung the balloons up overnight to dry, making sure there was paper underneath to catch any drippage.  I am not nearly patient enough for either of those ideas....ESPECIALLY if my method failed and I had wasted time and yarn that I bought just for this.  SO, I turned my oven on the lowest setting.  For me, it was 170 degrees.  I placed covered balloons on a wax covered cookie sheet in the oven with the door cracked open.  I was hesitant about shutting the door all the way in case the balloon decided to burst.  You will hear a little crackling and see the balloons expanding a bit.  I let them sit in the oven for about 20 minutes and then went back to check.  They were already getting hard, but areas with a lot of paper mache took longer.  I rotated the balloons a few times and tried to make sure they were as dry as possible.  Once firm, I pulled them from the oven and you could almost immediately see the balloon shrinking a bit from the temp change.  I used my finger to push the balloon away from the yarn. 
Now, gently pop the balloon and cut it away from the yarn ball.  A few of mine were still a little damp, so I put them back in the oven at this point without the balloon.  They held shape well. 

Here is my finished product.  I wish I had made a few more to fill it out better.  This was a VERY inexpensive project, costing me just some yarn since I had everything else.  They would look beautiful on a table, in apothecary jars, or a vase.  You can play with different sized balloons, maybe add some glitter, and create different ones for each season!

Happy Crafting!!

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