I really wanted some of the fake firecrackers that are hung up at Lunar New Year. And I’ve seen them in Vietnamese shops and at festivals. The big ones look like they are made out of toilet paper rolls, but cost $60. Although they do have lights and sounds. And the little ones cost about $20 and are still made out of cardboard. I guess if I were in Vietnam, I could get them for a song, but here I have to pay a top price. So since I didn’t want the small ones and I was not going to pay $60, last year I decided to save some toilet paper rolls with the idea that I might make my own. I saved 21 toilet paper rolls, but I ended up making two separate firecracker strands with 10 and 11 rolls. Except for buying an upholstery needle for the project, I used only stuff I already had on hand. So the cost of the project was $3.00. Things you need:
- toilet paper rolls
- poster board
- red acrylic paint
- Elmer’s glue
- wrapping paper (red and gold)
- Scotch tape
- plastic beads
- string, ribbon, or Rexlace (preferably red, but I used blue, since that is what I had) – I wanted to say that Rexlace is a brand of plastic craft string, that I called “gimp” growing up.
- skewer or upholstery needle
- I cut out circles on the poster board, a little bigger then the diameter of the toilet paper roll. I cut two per roll.
- I stabbed a hole in the middle of each circle then glued them on the top and bottom of the toilet paper rolls. This took awhile as I could only do one side at a time and I actually went back and added extra glue to make sure they would stay on. I used Elmer’s glue, but one could easily do it with a hot glue gun.
- After the circles were all glued on top and bottom, I trimmed the poster board closer to the toilet roll.
- Using red acrylic paint, I painted the tops and bottoms of the firecracker, including a little onto the roll. It took at least 2-3 coats of paint to get good coverage in red.
- I cut 4.5 inch pieces of paper in the red wrapping paper and half inch strips of gold wrapping paper. I started cutting the wrapping paper by hand only to quickly change to a paper cutter. I recommend a paper cutter if you have the use of one.
- I used tape to attach first the red wrapping paper to the roll, and then a half inch strip of gold wrapping paper to the top and bottom of the roll.
- I used a skewer with my Rexlace taped on it to poke the lace through the firecracker, but it was no fun, so I ended up buying a set of upholstery needles and using that. The upholstery needle was much more fun and easy to use.
- I put a plastic bead or donut on the end of the firecraker.
- I tried a couple different ways to hang these but I ended up liking them with 10 or 11 rolls per firecracker string positioned in a spiral. I used tape to hang them in a spiral around another piece of Rexlace.
You could always make them without a top and bottom and just hang them from holes or tape on the toilet paper roll, but I wanted to make mine look as much like those ones I didn’t want to buy. The most fun, was painting the tops and bottoms, least fun was using the skewer. But using the 8″ upholstery needle was actually lots of fun and I may find a reason to use it again.
This is the final product, two fake firecracker strings for celebrating Lunar New Year. I plan on using them in conjunction with plastic bubble wrap to make some noise.
UPDATE: The Rexlace and Scotch tape was not a good combination. After about a week, the fire crackers started to fall off and after 3 weeks, they are all individual fire crackers. I am now restringing them with red ribbon and tying them on a ribbon which is knotted to prevent the fire crackers from falling all the way down to the bottom. Luckily I have that upholstery needle that is making it much easier.