I love drama at the dinner table. Now, I don’t mean the type of drama where Aunt Judy has had a little too much to drink and starts spilling the family secrets. I mean the visual drama of a tablescape that lets guests know they’re in for an extraordinary evening. One thing I like to do is hang things above the dining table, because that space above the table is prime real estate for decorating. In the past, I’ve dangled silk rose petals, branches, leaves, fresh calla lilies, but for Thanksgiving this year I came up with the ambitious idea of hanging strings of golden orbs. The question was how would I do it, and would the process drive me insane. The good news is that I did not go insane, though I am probably not going to attempt this again in the near future. Here’s the end result, followed by how I did it.
I started with the balls. I found these ping pong balls at Amazon for only $8.30 for 144, so it cost less than $35 for almost 600 ping pong balls. These were practice balls, so they were softer and lighter than real ping pong balls, which is not good for practicing ping pong, but great for what I needed.
To spray paint the balls gold, I punctured a hole in each one and inserted a piece of stiff wire into the hole. Then I held each ping pong ball by the wire, spinning them as I spray painted them shiny gold so they would have an even coat. Then I poked the wires in styrofoam to allow the balls to dry.
After I had all the balls painted, I strung them in strands of 4, 5 or 6 orbs, so there would be variance in the lengths. To do this, I used a 5″ doll needle, which went through the center of each ping pong ball as I made the strands.
And at the two points where the thread meets the ball, I added a dab of glue so the balls would stay in place. I used Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue.
When all the strands were dry, I packaged each in plastic to keep them separated, or else they would tangle on the way to the house where I was doing Thanksgiving. To hang each strand, I placed a dab of poster putty (I used UHU Tac), to adhere the strands to the ceiling.
And the result was magical. The shiny gold on the ping pong balls reflected light so it looked like they were lit from within. I also glued some extra ping pong balls to the branches in the tall vases, and added some to the floral arrangements. I spent all that time painting the ping pong balls you better believe I was going to use each one. I hung all the strands of ping pong balls the night before, and by the next day gravity had taken about 10 of the strands. But there were plenty still up, so the result was still spectacular. I think this idea would also look beautiful for a wedding, don’t you?