Hello Intrepid Crocheters!
If you have joined me on our Crochet Hot Air Balloon Mobile adventure, this is the second installment post that will teach you how to glue-block your crochet balloons and baskets so they will hang proudly aloft in the sky, floating merrily along.
Did you know that you can buy the PDF ebook of this crochet pattern along with full blocking and mobile-making instructions for just $5?
Well, you can!
I also welcome you to use the resources free on the site and please link and share to interested friends. If you enjoy the design and want to support my work and more free patterns, please consider clicking a few ads here on the site! 🙂
Now, let’s get down to some sticky business.
This glue-blocking technique is a bit like a magic trick, and many people have looked with fascination at my finished hot air balloons, and wondered “is it stuffed inside? how did you get it to stay open like that…?” It’s always fun to explain the process and it even intrigues people who aren’t as in to the whole crochet thing.
First is a photo-only explanation of the process, followed by step-by-step written instructions for glue-blocking [my term] for stiffening/hardening/molding your crocheted hot air balloons into a lasting shape! I shared this idea on Reddit a few years ago when I made my first one and a brilliant Redditor called it “crochet mache” because the glue-saturation concept resembles papier-mache. Genius!
SPECIAL TOOLS for Glue-Blocking
3 latex balloons –12” latex balloons
White school glue such as Elmer’s
Washable container that you don’t mind getting messy OR freezer paper to cover your work surface. If you use the shiny side of the freezer paper, the glue does not stick to it as pieces dry.
Waste yarn/string for hanging your Balloon Tops to dry.
Plastic grocery bag for molding your small Baskets (optional! You’ll see this in the pictures, but as I did this multiple times while re-designing the project, I learned that the Baskets molded just fine without a support as well. Up to you!)
Spray starch for pressing clouds (optional)
Balloon pump (optional)
GLUE-BLOCKING YOUR CROCHET
Balloon Tops and Baskets
Step 1: Apply Glue
Place your Balloon and Baskets (turn each piece Wrong Side out) in a washable container or on a surface that you don’t mind getting messy, I found that the shiny side of freezer paper worked well and the Balloons or Baskets didn’t stick to it. Cover each Balloon and Basket with white glue and massage the glue into the fabric until the crocheted fabric has soaked up all of the glue. The glues dries clear. Turn each Balloon and Basket Right Side out and repeat the process, saturating the entire balloon until the glue is fully worked into the fabric. Set aside in the container or on your covered surface. Repeat for each Balloon Top and Basket.
Step 2: Inflate Latex Balloon
If blowing up your balloon by mouth:
Stretch the neck of your latex balloon a couple times to make it easier to blow up. Get your latex balloon started with a few breaths of air. Insert your partially filled latex balloon into the neck of the hot air balloon. Now, holding it together with the glue-saturated hot air balloon, continue blowing up the latex balloon until it inflates your Balloon and pops a few inches out the neck of the Balloon —this part is messy, weird, and difficult, but take deep breaths and persevere! It will be worth it. Tie off the latex balloon and set the whole thing aside in the container or covered surface. Breathe the free air.
If you have a willing helper, you can get your balloon started and ask them to hold the neck of the crochet balloon open for you as you blow it up.
If using a balloon pump:
Begin filling your latex balloon with one or two pumps of air. Insert the partially filled latex balloon into the neck of the hot air balloon, lay in your container and continue pumping until the latex balloon inflates the hot air balloon and latex balloon pops out of the bottom of the hot air balloon by a few inches. Tie off latex balloon and set the whole thing aside in the container. I have to say, for a $2 outlay, this was a helpful tool and my 2-year old gets hours of fun firing off balloons around the room and giggling away. You should get one!
Step 3: Shape the Hot Air Balloon
As you blow up the latex balloon, it will inflate the glue-soaked Balloon creating a form for the balloon to dry into shape. Once your Balloon is filled to a pleasing shape, tie off the latex balloon. Use your fingers to tug and shape the hot air balloon evenly around the latex balloon, also adjusting the hot air balloon neck if needed, tugging and molding it into shape as desired. The piece will dry exactly as it is molded onto the latex balloon, so it’s worth adjusting it to your liking.
Step 4: Hang to Dry
Tie a piece of string or waste yarn to the knotted end of the latex balloon and hang to dry upside down. White glue cleans up easily with soap and water, but I hang mine over the basement laundry tub in case of any drips.
Step 5: Remove Latex Balloon
When the Hot Air Balloon is completely dry–this can take up to several days depending on the humidity levels in your workspace, check the piece all over for damp spots, especially the very top which is last to dry if the balloon is hanging upside down, untie and pop the latex balloon, gently pulling out any stuck pieces. Your balloon top should now be a hard shell!
Please See Hot Air Balloon Mobile Part III: Glue-Blocking Tutorial for a tutorial on putting all your work together to make the finished mobile!
Yours in Stitches,