Sweet gum balls are the seeds that fall from sweet gum trees. These seeds are often called porcupine balls because they are covered in small barbs. The barbs are carried to new locations when they latch onto animals' fur. Many people think of sweet gum balls as a nuisance, but they can be used to make many types of crafts. All you need to do is clean them off with compressed air and they are ready for crafting.
Woodland crowns are a popular way to use outdoor findings. You can make a crown from sweet gum balls by using silk leaves as a base. Hot-glue the ends of the silk leaves together to form a circle that will fit around your head. Glue plenty of sweet gum balls to the leaves, and then wrap the crown in ribbon or raffia to finish the project. The leaves will create a barrier so that the barbs of the sweet gum balls won't attach themselves to your hair.
Since sweet gum balls have an interesting shape, they can add visual interest to a simple picture frame. All you need to do is hot-glue the balls all over the frame until the frame is completely covered. You can spray-paint the frame and balls with a high-gloss white or black paint for a modern look. You can also leave the balls as is for a more natural look.
You can make a mosaic from sweet gum balls. Start by spray-painting them different colors. Put balls that are the same color into a cardboard box and smash them with a hammer. Collect the bits of colored sweet gum balls into a plastic bag and repeat the process with another color. Once you have several bags of colored bits, you can start the mosaic. Cover a piece of cardboard with craft glue. Pour the bits onto the glue in patterns. Continue until the entire piece of cardboard is covered in bits.
Sweet gum balls can create an unusual wreath that you can hang on your front door or in your home. Start with a Styrofoam wreath base. Cover the base by hot-gluing sweet gum balls all over it. Wrap ribbon around the wreath and tie the ends in a bow. You can also hot-glue dried flowers to the wreath for extra color.
- "Non-Timber Products Fact Sheet"; Non-Timber Products Program of Virginia Tech; 2001
- "Things to Make and Do"; Rosemary Nicolais; 1970
- "Holiday Crafts Kids Can Make"; Gerald M. Knox; 1987
Since 1998 Alina McKee has written for dozens of traditional and online beauty, fashion, health and parenting publications including Pregnancy.org, Mama Health and Real Beauty. As a professional artist, her articles about these subjects have been used in magazines and websites around the globe. McKee has a diploma in fine art from Stratford Art School.