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DIY Conversation Heart Garland

Conversation hearts are my favorite candy for Valentine's Day.  I'm not a huge candy person, I prefer pretzels and Doritos, but conversation hearts are completely nostalgic for me.  I remember back in 2nd and 3rd grade getting them at our party's valentine exchange.  I always liked Reese's cups but those aren't as cute.

I planned to post this DIY forever ago, and by forever I mean a week.  Last Friday.  Anyway, I had other things I was working on simultaneously and I had to keep going to the store/wait for packages from amazon, so this one took a bit longer than I was anticipating.  But I think it turned out pretty cute.  Since it took me so long to get around to it, let's get straight on to it.
styrofoam balls in various sizes
serrated knife
bowl (with water)
foam brush
monofilament (fishing line)
white glue
2 key rings
Brach's conversation hearts (optional. Used for phrase inspiration or snacking.)
1.  Using your serrated knife, cut two opposite sides off of a styrofoam ball.  (They can be found in the floral aisle of a craft store.)
2.  Cut a very small triangle in part of the circle and form the ball into a heart shape using your fingers.
3.  Cover the styrofoam heart with Paperclay.
4.  Smooth the clay using your fingers.  If needed, dip one finger into the water to help smooth it out.  Be sure to only get a *tiny* amount of water.  If it gets too squishy, set it aside on your work surface for a minute or two and it should dry out enough for you to start working with it again.  Keep your Paperclay in a plastic baggy while you're working.
5.  When the clay is mostly dry (it will have changed to white color), use your needle (make sure your beads can fit over it) to pierce a hole through the heart.  I punched my hole in the top third of the heart so the bottom would be heavy enough to keep the heart facing upwards.
6.  Once the clay is completely dry, sand it with 220 grit sandpaper.
7.  Repeat the above steps until you have the amount of hearts you would like.
8.  Paint the hearts.  I did two coats of paint on mine.  I bought some Martha Stewart paint and the regular cheapy kind of acrylic paint.  I actually liked the cheapy kind more since it had more pigment and covered better.  But the Martha paint had the colors I was looking for.  (I really like the super bright colors of the actual little candies, and I kind of want to make another.  Haha!)
9.  Using a permanent marker, write phrases from conversation hearts onto your pile of clay hearts.  The above phrases are the ones I used on the large hearts. :)  (If you need to just buy one Sharpie, Staples has a bunch in a little display.)
10.  To start stringing the garland, measure the length you would like it to be, add some extra for tying onto the key rings and cut the monofilament with your scissors.  Tie the monofilament onto the key ring by going in between the two rings of the key ring.  Once you have your square knot tied tight, add a drop of white glue onto the knot to secure it.
11.  Lay out the beads and hearts in the order you would like them to be, and start stringing them.  When you get to the end, tie the other end of your string to the remaining key ring, securing with a bead of glue.

*If this seems like it'll be too much work for this year (I always leave my decorations up for a month, so I'd personally make it), you can always pin this for later and make it next year. *wink*

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