Making Crepe Paper Surprise Balls with Theresa Weller

Surprise ball all completed

A few weeks ago, I took a class with Theresa Weller at Handcraft Studio School to make surprise balls – “the toy that’s a joy to destroy.”  A surprise ball consists of a series of small trinkets and toys wrapped decoratively in layers of crepe paper.  In order to get to the gifts, you have to unravel the whole thing.  It is an old craft that’s been around for decades.

Theresa Weller

Theresa Weller

We started out with strips of colored fine crepe paper that Theresa neatly wrapped into a circle in the order that we would be using them.  Each strip was roughly two yards in length.

Strips of fine crepe paper in various colors. Don't they look like a cross section of a jaw breaker?

Strips of fine crepe paper in various colors.  Don’t they look like a cross section of a jawbreaker?

A different strip of crepe was used for each gift.  We each got ten small gifts:

Little trinkets and toys for surprise ball

Little trinkets and toys for surprise ball

To start we took the blue rubber ball, as it was round in shape, which would help start to form the shape of the surprise ball, and started loosely wrapping it in a strip of crepe.  The key was to loosely wrap each item to allow for easier shaping as we went along.

Wrapping first gift

Wrapping first gift loosely with crepe

Next we wrapped another gift with a different colored strip of crepe.  The key is to wrap the bulkier items first and end with the flatter items to get a better handle on the round shape of the surprise ball.

Wrapping second gift

Wrapping second gift

Second gift all wrapped

Second gift all wrapped

We continued wrapping each little surprise, one at a time, periodically squishing and shaping our growing ball of crepe to ensure that it would end up round, until all ten gifts were wrapped.

Positioning third gift for wrapping

Positioning third gift for wrapping

Third gift all wrapped

Third gift all wrapped

Wrapping 4th gift

Wrapping 4th gift

4th gift all wrapped

4th gift all wrapped

Positioning 5th gift for wrapping

Positioning 5th gift for wrapping

Wrapping 5th gift

Wrapping 5th gift

5th gift all wrapped

5th gift all wrapped

Positioning 6th gift for wrapping

Positioning 6th gift for wrapping

6th gift all wrapped

6th gift all wrapped

Positioning 7th gift for wrapping

Positioning 7th gift for wrapping

7th gift all wrapped

7th gift all wrapped

Positioning 8th gift for wrapping

Positioning 8th gift for wrapping

8th gift all wrapped

8th gift all wrapped

Positioning 9th gift for wrapping

Positioning 9th gift for wrapping

9th gift all wrapped

9th gift all wrapped

Positioning 10th gift for wrapping

Positioning 10th gift for wrapping

10th and final gift all wrapped up

10th and final gift all wrapped up

We then covered the surprise ball with a final strip of fine white crepe.

Final wrap with fine white crepe

Final wrap with fine white crepe

We used white crepe because it is a good light color to use, as there is no risk of it showing through the final wrap with florist crepe.

Next we each took a strip of stretchy florist crepe, glued one end onto our ball and wrapped it so that the edges slightly overlapped each other.  Unlike with the fine crepe, we pulled and stretched the florist crepe to ensure that it would be tight around the ball.

Strip of stretchy florist crepe

Strip of stretchy florist crepe

Starting wrapping with strip of florist crepe

Starting wrapping with strip of florist crepe

Slightly overlapping edges of florist crepe

Slightly overlapping edges of florist crepe

As we went around the ball with the crepe, we crisscrossed the strip so that it would fan out and cover up the ball.

Crisscrossing strips of florist crepe

Crisscrossing strips of florist crepe

When we came to the end of the strip, we dabbed the end with some glue, and then used another strip of crepe to wrap our ball in another direction.

Changing the direction of wrapping

Changing the direction of the wrapping

Almost done wrapping

Almost done wrapping

We kept wrapping and crisscrossing strips of florist crepe until the entire ball was all covered.

Surprise ball all wrapped and covered in florist crepe

Surprise ball all wrapped and covered in florist crepe

Next we decorated our balls with strips of florist crepe that had been cut with deco edge scissors.  We glued and wrapped the strips in a decorative pattern.

Wrapping with and changing direction of decorative strip of florist crepe

Wrapping with and changing direction of decorative strip of florist crepe

Gluing on another strip of decorative crepe

Gluing on another strip of decorative crepe

Surprise ball all wrapped with decorative florist crepe

Then we wrapped another decorative strip around the middle of our ball.  I chose a strip of fine crepe.

Wrapping decorative strip of fine crepe around the middle of surprise ball

Wrapping decorative strip of fine crepe around the middle of surprise ball

For the top and bottom of my ball, I glued on some Dresden from my stash at home.

Top of surprise ball decorated with Dresden

Top of surprise ball

Bottom of surprise ball decorated with Dresden

Bottom of surprise ball

My surprise ball, all finished:

Surprise ball all completed

For the decoration you could also use ribbon and/or rick rack trim.

Theresa also had samples of surprise balls that she had made for Halloween, in the shapes of a ghost and bat:

Halloween surprise balls

Halloween surprise balls.  Given the wrap technique used in creating them, I could see making  a surprise ball to resemble a mummy.

Making the surprise ball was a lot of fun.  It was much easier than I thought it would be and took us an hour and a half to get it all done.  I would love to experience unwrapping one, but for now, I’ll keep mine intact for display.  I think this would be a creative way to present an engagement ring to propose to someone.  You could wrap up little meaningful trinkets, with the engagement ring as the final gift to be unwrapped.

If you were given a surprise ball, would you unwrap it, or would you keep it intact for displaying?

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Serena Y Lee

Serena worked in the biotech industry for 18 years before leaving to pursue her life purpose - to live in freedom with creativity and simplicity. Her love for baking, creativity, and story-telling compelled her to start blogging to share her ideas with a wider audience.

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