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.
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.
A different strip of crepe was used for each gift. We each got ten small gifts:
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.
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.
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.
We then covered the surprise ball with a final strip of 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.
As we went around the ball with the crepe, we crisscrossed the strip so that it would fan out and cover up the ball.
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.
We kept wrapping and crisscrossing strips of florist crepe until the entire ball was all covered.
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.
Then we wrapped another decorative strip around the middle of our ball. I chose a strip of fine crepe.
For the top and bottom of my ball, I glued on some Dresden from my stash at home.
My surprise ball, all finished:
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:
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?