Make a Sweet Gum Ball Dog Ornament: Easy Tips for Designing Animals from Natural Craft Materials

March 7, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

Sweet gum ball Christmas ornaments are open to plenty of imaginative interpretation by each artist. Grownups will also enjoy making the simple ornaments, transforming them into different types of dogs by adding additional gum balls or creative details.

To use the sweet gum ornaments as miniatures, simply omit the thread cord or ribbon use for hanging them. Sturdy twig or pasta legs can allow the mini dogs to stand on their own for display.

Materials Needed:

  • • dried sweet gum balls
  • • dried corkscrew pasta (rotini noodles)
  • • hot glue gun w/ glue sticks
  • • craft glue
  • • craft paint
  • • paint brush
  • • seed beads in various colors
  • • acorn caps or medium-sized craft beads
  • • pine cone pieces or construction paper

Assembling the Dog's Body

Empty any seed debris inside the dried gum balls. Glue together two sweet gum balls to form the dog's body (three for long breeds, like dachshunds). Sweet gum ball sizes vary, so choose large ones for large-chested dogs when forming the body. Glue a sweet gum ball above the chest to form the head.

Paint four pieces of pasta with the chosen dog body color, then glue two pieces of pasta to each side to form the dog's legs. For smaller legs (and smaller dogs) substitute mini macaroni noodles for corkscrew pasta. Wood twigs will also work, but tend to snap more easily and can be difficult to trim to size.

Glue a piece of pasta to the rear to form a tail or use a small strip of felt for the tail and ears. Paint the dog's body with the desired color using craft paint, then let the ornament dry.

Adding Facial Features

Form the dog's muzzle by gluing a painted acorn cap to the front of the face. Add ears or facial features from broken bits of pine cones or tiny seeds for a more natural ornament effect, if synthetic substitutes are not ideal for the ornament's purpose.

For easy kid-friendly decorations, use a bead glued to the front of the sweet gum ball to for the dog's muzzle; use construction paper to form ears, or even a tail if so desired. This avoids the messy seeds or fragile twigs needed for an “nature-themed” design.

Adding Details to the Ornament

Use seed beads to form a nose and eyes on the dog's face. Brush them lightly in glue and press them onto the face. Or paint the features directly onto the sweet gum ball using a tooth pick and craft paints.

Glue a loop of ribbon or thread to the back of the ornament in order to hang it on a Christmas tree. Use them as party favors and mini gifts attached to packages or display them proudly on the family tree.

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