• Brookelynn Darwin

Gum Ball Machine Thrift Flip


I had passed up the same gum ball machine at the same thrift store last fall. I think the bright red color through me and though I can’t recall the price, I’m sure it was more than $4. Consistency isn’t a strong suit for those tasked with determining how much to charge for discarded treasures. Nevertheless, at $4 it felt like perhaps I was getting a second chance to be creative so I stashed it in my basket along with a few more decanters for plant propagations at hit the registers.


Later that afternoon, at 99ranch market, the tiny pack of quail eggs got my gears turning and sometime between the drive home and unloading the groceries in the fridge, I made a firm decision to spray paint the gum ball machine off white, fill it with quail eggs, and incorporate a little moss somehow. I kicked myself for not grabbing the eggs while I was at the store and when I returned days later they were wiped out except for a single pack that had been hiding in the very back. It would have to do.


Blowing the eggs out is fairly simple and despite my skepticism, the shells didn’t shatter when punctured with a basic sewing needle, however I do have a few suggestions; First, wash your eggs with warm soapy water. Despite popular belief, it isn’t raw eggs that breed salmonella but the outside of the shells themselves. Also, the larger the hole, the easier it is to blow the contents out. At first, I tried to make my hole nearly undetectable. Save yourself a headache and sore cheeks and just make the hole at the bottom at least the size of a pin head. Once everything is out, fill them with a little clean water, shake it about, and blow it out before letting them dry.


As suspected, I didn’t have nearly enough and it was going to be another week or two before the market received another shipment so I made a few more eggs out of paperclay and used these as the bottom layer to fill in some space. I also filled up the hole where the gum balls pool in the base of the machine with poly-fil and convered that with the moss, tucking some here and there to add some dimension and sort of suggest they’ve been sitting in there for ages.


Now it’s sitting on my kitchen shelf next to my cookbooks and I’m sort of obsessed. I wish I could just fill those shelves with useless aesthetic things but I need the real estate for baking tools so I’ll restrain myself from collecting a dozen more gumball machines and filling them with mushrooms and dried flowers….Oh my gosh can you imagine??? A row of antique white gum ball machines filled with rose buds? *hear eyes* Okay let’s maybe put a pin in this… for now.







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