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Santa Hat and Snowman

by Ralph Dewey

The Balloon HQ Challenge this month is a Santa Claus or Santa Hat.

Santa Down The Chimney Hat

While I was at the FCM convention this last July, Gilbert Adams taught a class on hats. One of his ideas was a Santa down in the chimney hat. Inspired by Gilbert's design, I decided to make my own version and share it with you this month. The chimney is made using the flat weave principle. So you might want to go back and look at my July, 2004 column for details of how to use the flat weave. With that in mind, realize that I'll only be giving abbreviated instructions for the chimney.

Inflate two red #260 balloons fully except for 2" and tie off their nozzles. Begin making the first rung which will serve as the headband. For an adult head it will require two 14" bubbles. With the first rung completed, measure off two 6" bubbles, one on each side of the headband. Then make the second rung which will be the first row of bricks using 12" bubbles. Cut and tie off the excess balloon.

Chimney Hat 1

Inflate two more red #260 balloons and fully except for 2" and tie off their nozzles. Attach them where you left off and continue the flat weave to add three more rungs (rows of bricks). Cut and tie off any excess balloon.

Chimney Hat 2

Add two white #260 balloons and continue using the flat weave technique to make one final rung to represent snow on top of the chimney.

Chimney Hat 3

That completes the chimney part. Santa's legs come next. You will need to make one leg at a time and then tie them together. Begin by making the boot. Inflate a section of a black #260 and tie off. Twist off a 2-1/2" bubble (top of the boot) and a 1" bubble (the heel). Ear twist the 1" bubble. Twist off a 2" bubble (the toe of the boot) and tie a knot. Cut and deflate the balloon, but retain at least a 1" length of balloon for tying purposes. Pull the 1" piece of balloon back to the heel and wrap it around to secure it. This will pull the knot under the boot so that it isn't as prominent. Tie the top of the boot and the leg together.

Chimney Hat 4 Chimney Hat 5

To make the white fur loop at the top of Santa's boots use a soft 5" section of a white #260 balloon. Encircle the knot at the top of the boot and tie it. Discard any excess balloon pieces. Construct another leg in the same way and then tie them together.

Chimney Hat 7

You are almost finished. Stuff the legs down inside the chimney. Then mark the bricks with a black Sanford's Sharpie or Expo marker as shown.

Chimney Hat 8

Michael Philo's Snowman

I love the fact that balloon art is dynamic rather than static. For example take this snowman. Michael Philo was experimenting with the Scarecrow that I posted in last year's November BHQ column. He figured out how to modify the head into a snowman. Michael passed that idea along to me. I took his snowman idea and modified it slightly myself. So now you have this balloon snowman based upon Michael Philo's snowman. Here is how you make it starting with the hat.

You'll need a black #260 inflated to about 6". On the Nozzle end insert your index finger and make a 1-1/2" apple twist. Twist off three 1" bubbles and ear twist them. Arrange the three ear twists to look like the brim of a top hat. Deflate the excess balloon, but leave a two-inch piece of uninflated balloon. Tie a knot near the end of 2" piece.

Snowman 1 Snowman 2 Snowman 3 Snowman 4

Now inflate a white #321 to about 4" and tie off. Poke the knot from the top hat into the knot of the #321 and make an apple twist. (If you want more security so that the apple twist doesn't come apart, tie a scrap piece of a #260 balloon around the knot.)

Snowman 5 Snowman 6

Make the snowman's arms from a 12" inflated bubble of a black #160 balloon. For the first hand, twist off three 1/2" bubbles. Twist-connect the last two bubbles. Twist off two three inch bubbles (the arms). Then twist off two 1/2" bubbles and twist-connect them. Twist off another 1/2" bubble and tie a knot. Cut off and discard the excess balloon. Now you have the completed arms.

Snowman 7 Snowman 8 Snowman 9

To make the body of the snowman, fully inflate a white #260 except for 3 inches and tie off the nozzle. Twist off two soft* 10" bubbles and tie them together with the nozzle. Twist off another soft 10" bubble and push it through the first two to lock them together. Place the snowman's arms inside the balloon near the top. At a point about 3-1/2" from the top, twist all three white balloon bubbles together. If you didn't remember to make the 10" bubbles soft, when you attempt to twist them, the bubbles might be too tight and in danger of bursting.

Snowman 10 Snowman 11 Snowman 12 Snowman 13

You should have some excess white balloon remaining. Twist off a bubble the same length as the three bottom bubbles and add it to the cluster. If there is still some balloon remaining, make a very soft bubble from it. Then push this very soft bubble into the center of the cluster to help fill and round it out.

Snowman 14 Snowman 15 Snowman 16

To add the snowman's head to the body, tie the nipple end of the #321 to the top. Then mark the face and body to complete it. If you wedge a few coins between the bubbles near the bottom of the snowman it adds weight and helps him stand up better.

Snowman 17 Snowman 18

* Note: If you squeeze the entire balloon with one hand, then twist off a bubble, that bubble will be less firm than with full pressure. Therefore the bubble becomes soft.

If you would like a non-balloon gift idea to give someone for Christmas, I recommend the book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Most bookstores should have it since it has been on the bestseller list of the New York Times.
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