Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools


Entries in topiary (1)


Sweetgum Ball Topiary Ornament Tutorial

Gather some balls from a sweetgum tree and pick up a few other materials from your local craft store to make this quick and easy ornament.  There is some drying time required for several steps so plan accordingly.


  • 1 sweetgum ball
  • 18 gauge paper stem wire
  • 1” clay flower pot
  • small piece of Styrofoam
  • plaster of Paris
  • Spanish moss
  • ribbon
  • gold spray paint
  • glue (hot glue gun or other craft glue)
  • monofilament fishing line
  • wire cutters

Push the Styrofoam piece into the bottom of the clay pot (I used a small piece of packing material; a Styrofoam ball or packing peanut would work, too).

Cut two pieces of wire about 3.5” long.  Twist them together by overlapping their centers and twisting one around the other until they are twisted together their entire length.

Glue the wire into one of the holes in the gumball and let dry.

The wire may need to be trimmed slightly at this point.  Hold the wired gumball up to the pot and check that the proportions are pleasing.  In my sample I ended up with about 2” of wire between the bottom of the gumball and the top of the pot.  Trim the wire as needed.  Push the wire into the Styrofoam in the bottom of the pot.

Mix a small amount of plaster in a disposable cup.

Pour the plaster over the Styrofoam, leaving some space at the top of the clay pot.  Let dry.

Glue some Spanish moss in the top of the pot to hide the plaster.

Spray paint the entire ornament gold (or another color of your choice).  Use several light coats and let dry between coats.  Make sure you paint the bottom of the pot as well.

Tie a ribbon around the stem of the topiary.  Glue monofilament fishing line to the top of the ornament for a hanger.  Try to find one or two holes at the very top of the gumball and insert the fishing line into those holes.  You want the ornament to hang straight and feel balanced; if there is one hole at the very top center you can insert both ends of the line into that one hole.  If there are two holes on either side of the top center glue one end of the fishing line into each hole.