The sweet gum is a large tree that often grows up to 100 feet tall. It is best known for its thorny seed pods that are about the size and shape of a candy gum ball. While these can be annoying to find around your yard or to step on, there are quite a few crafts that can be made from the seed pods with a little creativity and a few supplies. These projects can include everything from wreaths to Christmas tree ornaments. If you have a sweet gum tree near you, take out a basket and collect some pods to get started.
Christmas Tree Ornaments
Sweet gum balls can become ornaments on your Christmas tree. Lay the balls out on sheets of newspaper and spray paint them red, gold or silver. Make sure to work outside with a face mask on while painting. Next, tie a piece of ribbon, thread or colored string around to the stem to hang the colored balls on your tree branches. Another option is to roll the balls in clear glue and glitter to create sparkly ornaments. You can insert wood cocktail sticks in the holes of the pod with the pointy ends out so the ball resembles a large star. Use silver or gold acrylic paint to make the ornament stand out against the tree.
Sweet gum balls can also be used to make reindeer decorations during the holidays. First remove the stems from four balls. Glue two balls together to form the horizontal body. Glue two more balls together to form the neck and head. Attach the neck and head vertically to the body with glue. Set aside and let dry for a few hours. Glue two small red berries to the head to form the eyes and a tiny acorn to make the nose. Glue two petals of a pine cone to the head to form the ears, and two small twigs to make the antlers. Glue another pine-cone petal to the back of the body to make the tail. Glue four small 2-inch sticks to the body to form the legs.
You can use sweet gum balls to make a wreath for any occasion, depending on the colors and decorations you use. Glue balls together in rows of three until you have at least 50 sets of them. Then, glue the rows together, forming a ring. Allow your wreath to dry. Take it outside to spray paint it a variety of colors, or leave it natural if you wish. You can also glue on embellishments such as berries, holly, bells, bows or other holiday decorations, including hearts, tulle and paper flowers.
Kids will love making this cute mouse craft out of sweet gum balls. You will need one ball pod with stem for each mouse. Other supplies include a large acorn or other nut, glue, two tiny wiggle eyes, dried pine needles, two tiny brown pom poms and a pair of scissors. The stem of the pod is the mouse tail. Glue the acorn to the other end to form the head. Glue the wiggle eyes to the head and glue the poms poms for the ears. Cut the dried pine needles to the appropriate size for whiskers and glue them on as well. You can glue your mouse to a small piece of wood to make a base. Don't forget to give it a name.