Monday, May 26, 2014

water balloon dart painting, part two

Two years ago, I put together a water balloon dart painting for my niece Katie's graduation party. I really wanted my niece Gretchen to have the same experience. Here's how it happened.

To make the water balloons (which is the most important part!), you'll need the above items:
*water balloons
*liquid acrylic paint
*water bottles with "sport caps"
These caps are the secret to good paint balloons - they allow enough pressure to fill the balloons well.
Obviously, you will also need water - we did not fill the balloons with the Vernor's ginger soda next to the yarn- but I do recommend a can of Vernor's as the balloons are filled for delicious refreshment.

You will also need:
*duct tape

I recommend a larger canvas, rather than a smaller one.  Anything else you wish to use to set the scene (like a tarp) is optional.

I should mention up front that this painting project didn't turn out the same as the first, in one very significant way. We used the cheapest craft paint, and less of it. This led to some translucency in the final product, which turned out looking like we'd intentionally created a dripping chalk effect. I think the effect is really cool - but if you are trying for a brighter final product, use a thicker paint, twice as much paint, or half as much water, before shaking the bottle. (Generally, cheaper brands of paint are thinner.)  I don't have exact measurements, because paint consistencies are so different.  Try one part paint to two parts water, if you are seeking a measurement.

Filling these balloons can be a painty mess. On this day, I filled the balloons on a beach. The sand absorbs the spills nicely. I realize that taking paint balloons to the beach may not be a realistic step most of the time. Grass works fine, too, and so would any absorbent thing you may use as a tarp.   Most of the spills came from the process of tying.  To neatly fill the balloons, stretch the balloon while the bottle is upright, and then fill it as gently as possible, leaving enough room for a tie.  Just to be safe, wear painting clothes for this step.

A few weeks ago on Shark Tank, some entrepreneurs presented the TieNot . I've never used one, and I know it's meant to be attached to a hose, but I think the stick could be used to tie these balloons, and it may be a good investment for this project if tying becomes problematic. Let me know if you try it.

If you want to evenly separate your paint colors, you may want to assign each paint color to a balloon color. You won't be using as much liquid in a paint balloon as you would for a water balloon, so some of the balloons will be more opaque, meaning you won't always know which color of paint is inside.

The largest paint balloon was about two inches in diameter. And it's better to have a smaller balloon filled with paint rather than a larger balloon filled with paint and extra air - extra air will leave blank space behind it when it bursts.

In the meantime, paint the background of the canvas.  Gretchen painted her background black, while I painted fuchsia.  Two more hints: choose a background color that is not at all like your balloon paint colors.  Black was a great choice.  Fuchsia was a less great choice, because we used fluorescent pink balloon paint, which blended right in (and by chance, many of the balloons attached to the fuchsia happened to be pink ones).

Once the canvas is dry, it's time to adhere the paint balloons.  My method is to use a small piece of duct tape to individually hold each balloon along the back of the canvas.  That way, you can move each balloon while arranging them, and as you pop the balloons, you can move the strings and balloon pieces  behind the canvas, so the paint doesn't stick to those parts.  Place most of the balloons along the top of the front of the canvas.  It's fun to experiment with balloons at different heights, as well.

Choose an area to stage the creation of the paintings.  We used a huge plastic tarp, which we thumbtacked to trees, to minimize mess, and to catch any stray darts.  I like the idea of using a large, old sheet as a tarp, and I'd choose that over a plastic tarp next time - the plastic tarp took a long time to dry.  For Katie's painting, we used burlap against a fence.  We didn't have a fence this time, and I didn't want to throw darts and paint at the side of the house, so we chose this arrangement instead.

This is my only photo of the best part - the dart throwing, balloon bursting, color dripping part (!), because the process was much more fun to experience in the moment than behind a camera.

Part of the way through the process, the canvases looked like this.  Notice that the tarp is already sloshy, and Gretchen's painting has a dart stuck in it!  There will likely be tiny holes in your canvas. It's part of the fun!

Here are the canvases, waiting to dry. I think the tiny circles on the black canvas may have been caused by air pockets in some balloons - or just balloons where the darts hit toward the bottom of the balloons, so everything in them spilled downward. Regardless, the unintentionally chalky look was a cool surprise! My fuchsia canvas, with its layers of pink paint, only subtly resembles a water balloon dart painting.  And I really like it!  (Although, I've considered using the same fuchsia canvas for another round of dart painting - this time using gold and other non-pink colors on top of what is already there!)

These were so much fun to make! They were so worth the effort of mixing paint, filling and tying balloons, setting up a tarp, and cleaning up. It would make an awesome summer tradition!

If you try it, I'd love to see the results!


Anonymous said...

where did you buy the darts from?

julie said...

I found them in the sporting goods department at Meijer - I think they can be found in most sporting goods stores.

Nina Athena said...

Thank you for sharing such valuable information and tips. This can give insights and inspirations for us; very helpful and informative! Would love to see more updates from you in the future.

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