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Edit: the giveaway is now closed, but the tutorial is still there for your use!
I picked up a bag of whole walnuts at the grocery store last week and as my family cracked nut after nut after nut, I knew I needed to do something with those cute little shells. The boys were enamored with them too and spent a good half hour putting Lego guys in them and floating them in our bathroom sink. Watching them gave me the idea to make walnut boat ornaments!
Walnut boats are an idea that had been around for a very long time, of course, and I knew there was no reason for me to reinvent the wheel so I looked around online for some ideas to get me started. There are lots of lovely walnut boats out there, but I particularly loved the ones I found here, here and here.
Here are the materials I used to make my boats:
- Festive patterned paper
- Scotch tape
- A glue gun and glue sticks
- Walnut shells
- All-purpose glue (not pictured)
Start off by squirting a big blob of hot glue into the bottom of a walnut shell. You don’t have to fill the whole shell up, but I recommend making the pool of glue about 1/4-3/8 inch deep because you’re going to use the glue to hold the toothpick and you’ll want it to be pretty secure.
Center a piece of Scotch tape across the top of the walnut, poke a toothpick into the middle of it and then push the pick down into the hot glue. The tape will hold the toothpick in place until the glue dries. Make sure the toothpick is standing straight up or your boat’s mast will be crooked. You have a little bit of time to fiddle with this before the glue starts setting, but not too long so try to work quickly when you’re doing this part.
Repeat this gluing process with all the walnut shells you’ll be using, then let your walnut armada sit for a bit while the glue sets.
Once the hot glue has set up in the bottom of the boat and the toothpick isn’t moving around any more, gently pull the tape off.
Run a thin line of glue around the top edge of the walnut.
Sprinkle glitter onto the glue. Keep in mind that if the hot glue in the bottom of the boat isn’t completely dry, the glitter will stick to that too.
Tap off the excess glitter and let the boat stand for a few minutes while the glue dries.
Next, trim your paper into smaller pieces to make the sails. The optimal size of the pieces will vary depending on how long your toothpicks are. The ones I used were 2 inches tall and 1 3/4 inches wide. Play around a bit until you find a size you like.
Poke two holes in your piece of paper with a pin. These holes will be used to thread the paper on the toothpick. I played around with this a bit and the placement I liked best ended up having one hole centered 1/4 inch down from the top edge and another centered 1/8 inch up from the bottom edge.
Push an extra toothpick through the starter hole and twirl it around a bit to open it up. This will make it easier to thread it onto your mast.
If you like, you can trim the sail into a rough triangle shape. They look nice as squares too. I opted for a mix, but the shape pictured above ended up being my favorite.
Run the sail over something round to give it a bit of curve. I’m using a glue bottle here, but you could use a pen or a pencil or something too.
See? Nice and curvy! You can almost feel the tiny wind in your tiny hair, can’t you?
Thread the sail onto the mast.
Stick the mast through the top of the sail too.
Cut a little flag out of scrap paper to add to the top of the mast. I made mine by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting a triangle. It is about 1/4 inch tall at the fold and about 3/4 inch long after it’s folded.
Add a few drops of glue to the inside of the flag and spread it around with the tip of a toothpick so that the glue covers the paper in a thin layer. If you use too much glue on the flag, it will goosh out when you close it and make a mess on your mast.
Wrap the flag around the top of the toothpick and pinch it closed for a minute while it dries.
Keep going until you have a tiny little Walnut Armada!
I had fun playing with different papers and shapes for the sails and flags and I even added a little Santa sticker to one. Cute!
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