I first came across this method of making balls at the Latitude Festival last year, where Cambridge Community Circus were running workshops for kids. They were making juggling balls, but the finished product also works quite well as a stress ball, and I even used one to go with a set of skittles I made.
You will need:
– bird seed (the small round kind – I found it sold as budgie seed)
– a jug
– a tray with sides, or a roasting pan (optional)
– dustpan and brush (almost certainly)
Begin by tipping some seeds into the jug. I tend to do this, and the next few steps, over a roasting pan or high-sided tray, to catch any stray seeds.
Cut the necks off a couple of balloons (don’t throw the necks away). You can use balloons of the same colour, or different colours, depending on what effect you want.
Carefully pour seeds from the jug into one of the balloons. If you can recruit a helper to hold the balloon upright for you, the process will become much easier. When it’s full, take the other balloon and put your seed-filled ballon inside it, facing the opposite way, so that the second balloon covers up the neck hole of the first balloon. You might need to trim a little from the neck hole on the second ballon so that it fits snugly.
You now have a basic seed-filled ball.
If you just want a simple juggling ball for practising your own circus skills, then you can stop there (although if this is your plan you might want to add an additional step: put the seeds into the corner of a small sandwich bag and tie a knot in it, before adding the first balloon layer – that way you are less likely to get any spillage).
But in my experience, a ball made with just two balloon bodies like this has a tendency to settle into a sort of lemon shape, and that bugged me enough to make me fiddle about with it in search of improvements.
I have found that using the leftover neck pieces as further layers helps to make a much more robust (and spherical) sphere. Cut off the very end part of the neck, which has the little rollover, and simply stretch the remaining tube over your ball, covering up the baggy ends that cause the lemon tendency. You might need to trim the ends of the neck further in order to get a snug fit. You can add as many layers as you want, until you are happy with the strength and shape of your ball.
To make up a juggling ball kit I put three balls inside an old tea bag box which I covered in patterned paper, and added a set of instructions printed from the internet.