Painting with Balloons and Darts

*An FAQ has been added as of 01-08-2014 as per reader request. To access, please scroll down to bottom of this post. Thank you. -xoxo

Who here has seen The Princess Diaries? Remember Anne Hathaway’s breakout role in which she portrays the ultra geeky 15-year-old, Mia, only to discover that she is the princess of a far off country and granddaughter to the queen (Julie Andrews). A classic. Well, ever since seeing the hysterically charming film I have wanted to duplicate one of its memorable scenes: painting with balloons and darts. If you remember, in the movie Anne Hathaway and her mama pin paint filled balloons to a canvas only to pop them with darts and so creating a beautifully messy masterpiece. Well, my dear sister Michelle brought the idea back to my attention a few days back and we knew it was a must. And so, we bought and painted canvases.

We then filled up balloons with paint and air… which was actually quite difficult! But—after many paint-filled mouthfuls—we came up with a system.
  1. Fill the water balloon up with air (try using a ball pump) so to stretch it out. Then let the air go again.  
  2. Next, cut a straw to make a small funnel for paint. Insert funnel into the deflated balloon.
  3. Using the straw as a funnel, fill the balloon with as much paint as you can squeeze in. (We used acrylic.)
  4. Remove the straw funnel (try not to get paint on the rim as you remove it) and blow up balloon being careful not to suck in (we learned this the hard way).
  5. Once filled, tie and place aside.
Note: do all of this in a place that it’s ok to get paint everywhere as they may explode, or slip, or any number of things… and wear clothes that you’re ok with ruining.

After we filled all the balloons, we pinned them to our canvases.

Do you like how we used one normal sized balloon along with our water balloons. 
That was when we couldn’t get the baby balloons to blow up at first. Ha.

And finally, we let the darts fly!

It was epic.

We were pleased!

One more look!

  Aren't they awesome?!
And the best part: you need no artistic talent!

Now, a few thoughts for anyone wanting to paint with balloons and darts: 

First, if you want a “running” look (as opposed to splatter), fill your balloons with more paint and very little (if any) air.

Second, make sure your canvas has back support or your dart may just go completely through the canvas… we need to patch a hole or two so we can hang them! Ha! Still, it was awesome!

One final idea is to use t-shirts instead of a canvas! Another of my sisters did that as a date once and loved it! She still wears her t-shirt!

Painting with Balloons and Darts FAQs: 

Darts & Balloons . . .
What size of balloon did you use?
Is water balloon a “size”? Water balloons.

Can I use regular sized balloons?
No you may not! Just kidding. Go for it. Why, you can use whatever size of balloon you want. You’ll see I used one regular sized balloon (big and light blue) on my canvas and it worked out all the same. The thing to remember about regular sized balloons, however, is that it’s hard to fit very many of them… which can be good or bad depending on the look you’re going for.

How much paint did you use?
Honestly, as much as I felt like. Some I filled with more than others. In my experience, balloons with lots of paint ooze/blob more (such professional terminology) whereas balloons with less paint splatter more. Also, the less air you use the more it will run. The more air you use the more it will splatter… usually.

How did you attach the balloons to the canvas? …seems like it may be easy to tear.
Pins and pushpins. I, too, was worried the canvas would tear, but for some reason I still went ahead and did it anyway. Result: success. And the smaller the pins, the smaller the pokes (is that word?). For best results, create a backing (explained in next question) before pinning the balloons to your canvas.

How did you keep the darts from tearing the canvas?
If by tear you mean did one of my darts fly right through the canvas leaving an awesomely big whole? Then my answer is no, I did not keep the darts from tearing the canvas. Not that time. BUT, I have worked that one out.

Have you ever had to wrap a canvas print that doesn’t have backing for a move or for storage?  In order to keep the canvas from getting wholes, movers and packaging companies usually fit a piece or two of cardboard (or something similar) to use as a temporary backing. This also prevents the canvas from sagging one way or another due to pressure or any number of things. There it is. Our solution. Simply fit a piece or two of cardboard to use as a temporary backing for your canvas. Think of it as creating a dartboard for the darts to stick in. Am I making sense?

Using a Canvas...
Where did you buy your canvas?
I didn’t. I stole it. Who am I kidding, I bout it at Michael’s (love that store). I’ve also bought canvases at Walmart and Hobby Lobby. Really wherever has the best price/sale.

What kind of paint did you use on your canvas?
Acrylic. Though I’m sure there are plenty of other paints and mediums you could try… I welcome suggestions.

Using a T-shirt
Can you tell me more about how to do this with a t-shirt?
Get out! I was just thinking to myself, “You know what, I want to tell you more how about how to do this with a t-shirt.” What are the odds? Moving on.

Step one: Get a t-shirt.
I have bought plain white t-shirts at Michaels, Hobby, Walmart… again really wherever has the best price/sale. 

Step two: Fill your balloons with paint (directions above).

Step three: Attach balloons to t-shirt. What? How? Yes, yes, I know. Let’s discuss.
You have options. Obviously we need for the darts to stick to something and a cottony (an assumption, apologies) piece of fabric by itself just won’t do. I think the easiest answer is cardboard. I love cardboard.

-To ensure the paint only stays on one side—front or back—of you shirt put a substantial and sturdy piece of cardboard inside the shirt. If you don’t care where the paint goes, simply set the shirt on top of your piece of cardboard. You can then attach the balloons accordingly. Once the balloons have been attached you can lean the shirt/cardboard aka your dartboard against a tree, on the ground, anywhere… go crazy.

-Tape your T to a tree, pin the balloons on (a bit more difficult but still manageable), and bam… you have your dartboard. Again, a bit more difficult but very entertaining.

Step Four: Darts away!

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