Sometimes, a pet gift is less about honoring the pet and more about honoring the special pet owner. Here is a project that does both. A custom dog toy- the personalized tennis ball.
Plan A: I’d pick up some tennis balls on sale at the sporting goods store, borrow my daughter’s wood-burning set, purchase the wood-burning alphabet at the craft store using my 40% off coupon and brand a few tennis balls. FAIL. Turns out the alphabet letters only leave blobs of burnt fuzz somewhat in the shape of a letter and are best left for wood surfaces only. I chose burning over paint as I don’t know enough about the toxicity of various paints and pet health, but I figured melting the fuzz on a tennis ball would be safe enough. So, for plan B, I did the following:
Printed out the name I wanted to personalize to the ball to fit in the area and taped it over a strip of generic office-supply carbon paper. I printed in light gray in order to see the areas I’ve traced when I get to that part.
Using a ball-point pen, I filled in the lettering with as much pressure as I could without tearing through the paper to transfer the lettering.
Once transferred, I went over the lettering with the fine tip of the wood-burning tool. Be sure that you are in a safe and well-ventilated area when burning synthetic fuzz.It helps to keep the printed lettering near by for visual reference on the areas that may have not transferred well. You can use scissors or a disposable razor to remove some of the heavier fuzz in the area you plan to burn. Lightly wash and dry the ball to remove any remaining carbon residue.
• Tuck into your dog’s mouth, if you can get him/her to stay long enough, for a fun photo op.
• Cut a long slit into the top of the ball for holding a photo of your dog. Place ball onto a wooden curtain ring or other similar stand to keep it from rolling away.
• Drop several personalized balls into a cylindrical glass container, include photos or pet mementos to create a special display.
• Wrap 3 balls in cellophane (you really only have to personalize one) and tie at the ends like a giant candy wrapper as a holiday gift. Or, cinch and tie between balls like sausage links.
• With a craft knife, score an X into the top of the ball and push a knotted loop of ribbon, string or rope into the score to create a special Christmas ornament, or to use as a marker for the leash hook. I used striped rope salvaged from a holiday gift bag handle.
Who is Gypsy? My sweet mom lives alone in an apartment in Arkansas. Her very dear friend, Don, another tenant in the complex, visits her daily. Don has a special companion, a very chubby little Dachshound, (which I would more lovingly refer to as a foot stool,) named Gypsy. Mom tells me that Don not only reads my blog, but he actually makes some of the crafts I share. Thank you Don! I’ll be sending a care package to Mom soon with the tennis ball gift for your pup included!!