via Mieke Willems
Contributer post by Andrea of Hula Seventy
If you've not yet seen Gina Namkung's surprise balls, you're in for a treat. A few years ago, Gina generously gifted me one. I was instantly taken with it but tucked it away someplace safe to save for a rainy day.
Fast forward to said rainy day, January 2010. One dreary afternoon, my family and I decided to unravel it and oh, the fun! Buried between layers of bright-colored crepe paper, we uncovered the sweetest surprises-- confetti, paper balloons and vintage trinkets galore! (You can read a little bit more about our experience here)
The surprise ball is as magic as it looks. When it was all said and done, I wanted to wrap the whole thing back up and do it all again. The concept is simple enough but there's something special about the way Gina puts them together. I recently asked her a few questions about her process and of course, she was kind enough to share:
What's the story, the personal history behind the surprise ball?
GINA: It must be part of my DNA to have always been drawn to that small thing. The gum ball ring I saw a boy give to another girl in the first grade. A Cracker Jack prize (back in the day when you actually got a prize as opposed to a sticker). A teeny tiny toaster with an even smaller piece of plastic toast that my best friend had for her Barbie... I coveted with all of my envious heart. Let's not even talk about the cigar box full of trinkets from Boo Radley. A birthday party where we played "Pass The Parcel" was my welcomed initiation into the unraveling of a surprise. Eventually I found commercially made surprise balls and for a while, handmade ones (from an amazing kind of shop in Seattle that sadly closed its doors).
How did you first come to make the surprise ball? How long have you been making them?
GINA: It wasn't until my eldest son's second or third Easter when I made my first ball. Some twenty plus years ago! Since then, I've made them for countless birthday parties, more Easters and Christmas Stockings, for classroom show and tells, as presents for young and old and as it turns out, I made one for a friend who in turn ordered twenty for his store at- most fittingly- Easter time. That was in 2005.
I have to ask, where do you find all your amazing vintage goodies?
GINA: There's a shop in L.A. that's a treasure trove of things I like, but as much as I would prefer to source from independently owned shops for the quantities needed, the reality is that I couldn't do what I do were it not for the internet. Primarily through ebay and Etsy I've managed to "meet" many a wonderful seller. Twenty four boxes of baby crayons from a seller in England! A gross of celluloid pins with feathers from one in Philly. Vintage novelty keychains of Danish food products from another seller in Minneapolis. Dozens of paper honeycomb strawberries! Another gross of wonder flower seashells! So yeah, I spend a lot of time with my laptop.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Gina! I knew your answers would be interesting.
I leave you all now with a terrific little surprise ball video from the folks over at Kade Spade New York. By the way, you can find Gina's Surprise Balls over at Kiosk. Each one contains a minimum of fifteen surprises, mostly vintage trinkets! And should you feel the need to make a ball of your own, check out these fun tutorials over at Craft Zine and Not Martha.
Again, many thanks to Gina! Who is clearly making the world a better place. One extraordinary surprise ball at a time.