Sweet gum trees. You either love them or hate them.
The trees are actually quite nice, but it’s their fruit (the spiked gum balls) that causes people to loathe them. They are kind of a pain in the butt. Stepping on them is like stepping on golf balls and if you are barefoot, they are like sticker balls on steroids. That said, they are fun to craft with, especially fall projects.
I had been thinking about a sweet gum ball pumpkin for a while, but when I dug through my supplies I realized I didn’t have any balls left from last year. No problem. I headed outside to gather more…, but…wait…what? I couldn’t find any. At least not on the ground. The trees are full of them right now, but they are still green and fresh. I did quite a bit of research, but could find nothing on how to speed up the drying cycle. I had never tried using them green. The color wasn’t terrible so I decided to give them a try. My hope is the balls will dry nicely on their own in the finished pumpkin. Either way, they green color appeals to me as much as the brown for my fall decor so I don’t consider it a fail.
Start by painting a 3″ Styrofoam ball brown. The foam is visible between the spikes of the gum balls so painting it a natural color is kind of important. Uh…I didn’t do this with the first one I did so do as I say, not as I did. 😉
Insert 1″ of a 4″ cinnamon stick into the ball for the stem. Remove the stick. Add hot glue in the hole and replace the stick.
Starting on the bottom of the foam ball (opposite the stem), hot glue sweet gum balls. Press them into the foam. The spikes and the glue will hold them.
Continue to add the sweet gum balls until the entire pumpkin has been formed. My pumpkin took about 35 gum balls. If you have ever worked with sweet gum balls before, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better the green balls feel on your fingers. Dry brown balls would require gloves to protect your hands.
Tie one end of a raffia strand to the stem and wind a couple of times around the pumpkin to simulate pumpkin spines. Tie the other end around the stem to finish off.
Add silk fall leaves and faux berries around the stem. I had a few gaps between gum balls that I didn’t like so I inserted a bit of raffia or berries to fill. Finish off with a raffia bow.