How to Make a Tumbleweed Prop

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Make a tumbleweed prop to help add authenticity to your scene.
Make a tumbleweed prop to help add authenticity to your scene. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Whether you're preparing for a school play or a small theater production, or decorating for your youngster's Wild West birthday party, you can enhance the stage or room decor with a tumbleweed prop. Work together with your child for some crafty, one-on-one time together and then watch him puff out his chest in pride as he shows off his contribution. When you're finished, place the prop strategically on the stage or in the room or roll it from a side curtain onto the stage at just the right moment.

Things You'll Need

  • Large balloon
  • Clothes hanger
  • Spring-type clothespin
  • Newspaper
  • Paper plate
  • White glue
  • Packaging string
  • Needle
  • Brown or tan spray paint

Blow up a large, round or teardrop-shaped balloon -- the larger the better.

Tie the end of the balloon in a knot and clip the knot to the bottom of a clothes hanger with a spring-type clothespin.

Hang the clothes hanger in a location that allows access to all sides of the balloon. For example, a beam in the garage, a nail from a beam in the garage, an exposed pipe in the basement or a door frame.

Spread a layer of newspaper under the balloon approximately four feet square.

Squeeze a 1/8- to 1/4-inch layer of white glue on a paper plate. Place the paper plate on the newspaper directly beneath the balloon.

Cut an 8-foot length of packaging string. Place the length of the string in the glue on the paper plate. Cover the entire string with glue.

Place the string over the surface of the balloon in a haphazard fashion. For example, loop the string back and forth over the surface from side to side and top to bottom. Zigzag the string over the top of the balloon. There is no set pattern to follow when placing the string on the balloon.

Continue placing strings all around the balloon until the balloon is covered with the desired amount of tumbleweed branches. Leave spaces between the string to show the tumbleweed prop is hollow. Add more glue on the paper plate and cut more string as needed.

Allow the string to dry for 24 hours. Remove the balloon from the clothes hanger. Pop the balloon and then remove the popped balloon from the inside of the tumbleweed prop.

Cut portions of the glued string from the tumbleweed prop to give the tumbleweed character.

Clip the string tumbleweed prop to the clothes hanger with the clothespin. Shake the brown or tan spray paint according to the paint's instructions and remove the lid. Hold the can 12 inches from the tumbleweed prop's surface. Spray a thin layer of paint over the entire tumbleweed. Allow the spray paint to dry for 10 minutes.

Remove the clothespin and reattach the tumbleweed prop in a new location. Apply a coat of spray paint. Allow the spray paint to dry for 10 minutes. Repeat the process one more time and allow it to dry. The tumbleweed prop is ready for use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try substituting the white glue with clear craft glue if you want a stronger hold and the natural color of the string to show.
  • For a fantasy scene, get creative and use different colored string or paint for your tumbleweeds.
  • Use a large fan to blow your tumbleweeds through your film or stage scene.

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