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"Ready-to-Roast" Marshmallows, from Family Christmas OnlineTM

So the basic idea wasn't ours. This past fall, one of the Pottery Barn catalog artists set up a photo with picnic baskets on an old-fashioned sled as though you were using your sled to haul the food for a wintertime picnic. One of the accessories that Pottery Barn doesn't sell (so far) was a branch with fake marshmallows on it, apparently ready for toasting. A couple days after Shelia showed me the ad, designer Nate Berkus showed how to make a similar "branch with marshmallows" project. Piece of cake, right?

Though the Pottery Barn photo showed square marshmallows, I thought round ones would work better. I'd sawn styrofoam with a jig saw for another project. I wondered how styrofoam would react to a hole saw?

About Hole saws

What's a hole saw, you say? Well, if you've ever installed a door lock or door knob, you probably have one. Some door lock kits even come with cheap ones. It's a sort of drill bit with a 1/4" or so central wood bit that creates a guide hole, attached to a circular blade that will "saw" the hole as you drill through the wood.

Click for bigger photo.If your hole saw came with a door knob or lock kit, you're stuck with whatever size it was. If you had to buy one separately, like I did, you may have a choice of hole sizes. The hole saw I own will take variable sized blades, but I could only find the 1 1/4"-diameter blade when I dug it up. Fortunately, that was just the right size. The blade was rusty - they don't make these to last forever, since most folks only use them once. But most of the loose rust came off on the first marshmallow, so that wasn't a problem.

If you don't have a hole saw, you can easily cut square marshmallows with a knife or any saw with fine teeth. Either way, this is a charming craft that should cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

About Styrofoam

Technically only certain products are Styrofoam, but we tend to use that name for any styrene product that is expanded by forming countless air bubbles in the manufacturing process. When I use a styrene foam product for other projects, I usually try to get one that's fairly dense and has either very tiny bubbles or no bubbles at all (like florists' foam). But for this project I didn't have time to go to the store, and I didn't think the bubbles would matter, as long as the foam was white. As it turned out, they didn't matter.

I'm one of those people who keeps the box for everything until the warranty runs out - and often until the next time I clean out the garage after that. So a quick search netted a piece of packing styrofoam left over from a clock (that explains the big round hole in the photo). It was about 1 1/2" deep, again, a good size for this project. This piece had the big, closed bubbles, but I thought it was worth a try.

Cutting Styrofoam

Whenever you cut styrofoam for a craft project, do it outdoors. Although the photo shows everything laid on a wood deck, I actually went way out into the back yard to do the cutting. That way when the fake snow flew in every direction, it could just find it way to the soil and aerate it eventually.

Click for bigger photo.It took only a second for the hole saw to cut the first hole/marshmallow. To disloge the marshmallow from the hole saw, I unscrewed the blade part from the drill bit core and pulled the blade assembly off the bit. Then I used a screwdrive to pop the first "marshmallow" out of the blade. Its shape was almost perfect. I kept repeating the process until I had a nice collection.

Finding a branch

One advantage of having a lot with lots of mature trees - every stiff wind brings a new harvest of dead branches. In the back yard, I found a branch with a number of tips that I broke to the same length. Since the hole saw had already drilled a hole through each marshmallow, it was no trouble to slide the marshmallows over the branch tips. If I was going to display this outside, though, I'd definitely have to glue the marshmallows on, because they didn't fit snugly enough to withstand a good wind.

Click for bigger photoWhen I had filled up that branch, I found another branch that, admittedly, wasn't as good and put the rest of the marshmallows on it.

Then I posed both branches on the copper washbasin that we use for kindling next to the fireplace. Not bad.


Now you COULD do what the Pottery Barn designer did and just cut out square "marshmallows" and do the same thing. but if you have a hole saw, it only takes a minute or so to turn out each round one. Probably I should make some more to use on the back porch for decoration - what do you think?

The photo below was taken a few days later, when I showed a friend how easy it was to make the "marshmallows," then I made a bunch more for us. Does it put you in the mood to start a bonfire?

Click for bigger photo.

The fact that the original idea got from a Pottery Barn catalog to the Nate Berkus show in a matter weeks is a reminder that great ideas travel fast. Probably by the time you see our round "marshmallows" in the photo, you will have already seen a dozen similar projects. But if you or your brother-in-law or uncle has a hole saw laying around, this will give you a chance to put your own "spin" on the project.

We usually have other craft suggestions "in the works," so please check back once in a while. And contact us with any questions or suggestions you have in the meantime. Especially contact us if you have any craft ideas you'd like to share with our readers.

Paul and Shelia Race


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