How to Make Starch and String Ornaments

    by Peggy Epstein

    About the Author

    Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.


    Starch-and-string ornaments are an heirloom craft that appeals to vintage lovers as well as modern tastes. Depending on the colors you choose, the versatile decorations can be used for a range of holidays and decorating purposes. A bonus with this activity is that the materials you'll need are quite inexpensive or already at hand. The finished products are so attractive and cost-effective that once you get going you can turn out a bunch to share, sell or hang en masse for a fun effect.

    Things You'll Need

    • Liquid starch
    • Cotton string
    • Package of small balloons, oval or round in shape
    • Large, deep bowl
    • 1/2-inch paintbrush
    • Pin
    • Disposable gloves, optional

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    Pour liquid starch into a large, deep bowl. Unroll a few yards of cotton string and push it down into the bowl. String can be any color or thickness depending on the effect you want.

    Blow up a small balloon to whatever size you want your ornament to be. You'll get the best results with a balloon inflated to approximately the size of a round grapefruit or small eggplant for a teardrop shape. Tie the balloon securely.

    Drape a few inches of the starch-soaked string over the balloon and continue to wrap and wind the string all around the balloon in spiderweb fashion, creating a kind of mesh bag holding the balloon. Leave small spaces as part of the design. Every so often, dip the paintbrush into the starch and coat the balloon so the string stays wet and firmly attached.

    Cut the end of the string and coat with additional starch. Tie a fresh 6-inch piece of string onto the knotted end of the balloon.

    Hang the ornament over the shower rod or anywhere it can be suspended to dry on all sides. Put down plenty of newspapers beneath the balloon to take care of any drips. Let the string dry overnight.

    Pop the balloon with a pin when the string is thoroughly dry. You'll be able to pull the balloon out through the opening at the top of the balloon where you tied the string. Decorate the hole at the top with some kind of holiday decoration like a miniature poinsettia for Christmas or a bright green ribbon for St. Patrick's Day.

    • Use gold or silver string for a glittering decoration.
    • Large string ornaments -- created over a beach ball -- could be used with a light kit for an eye-catching retro hanging shade.
    • Do not attempt to remove balloon before string is completely dry.