How to make a hot air balloon from tissue paper

Written by alexis rohlin
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You can make your own hot air balloon out of tissue paper. Tissue paper balloons rise when filled with hot air. The hot air inside of the balloon is less dense than the colder surrounding air, and this is why the hot air balloon floats. When air molecules are cold, they move slower and are packed closer together. When air molecules heat up, they move faster and spread out, which makes the hot air less dense and causes it to rise. The rising motion creates buoyancy that lifts the balloon into the sky.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 19 sheets gift tissue paper, 20 inches by 26 inches
  • White glue
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Felt tipped pen
  • Scissors
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Fishing line, 50 feet
  • Camp fire

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  1. 1

    Set three sheets side by side, with their short 26-inch sides touching. Dab spots of white glue down the right and left sides of the middle sheet of paper. Overlap the tissue paper sheets by 3/8 inch on either side and press the sides down to glue them together. Glue together the five more sets of three pieces of tissue paper the same way.

  2. 2

    Stack all the six sets of glued tissue paper on top of each other. Fold the stacked tissue paper in half lengthwise. Press the tissue paper flat and make the stack straight. Pin the sheets together along the edges and insert the pins 12 inches apart.

  3. 3

    Measure 3 1/2 inches in from the folded edge at the very bottom short edge of the stack of tissue paper and make a dot with a felt tipped pen. Measure 6 inches up from the short end and 3 1/2 inches in from the folded edge and make a dot. Measure the rest of the tissue paper making dots at intervals that are at every 6 inches up and 2 inches in until you reach 42 inches up and 9 1/2 inches in. From this point continue measuring up at 6-inch intervals and decrease the second measurement by 3 inches, for instance at 48 inches up, it will be at 6 1/2 inches in and at 54 inches up it will be 3 1/2 inches in. At 60 inches up, measure 1 1/2 inch in from the folded edge and make a dot.

  4. 4

    Turn the paper so the folded edge is facing you. Going from left to right, starting with the left dot, carefully connect the dots in a single line with the felt-tipped pen to make a graph-like mound shape. Cut out the tissue paper on the line. Remove the pins. Keep the folded edge part and leave it stacked. Set the other cut part aside.

  5. 5

    Take two glued sheet sets off of the stack. Set them down on your workspace and place one on top of the other. Move the top sheet over to the left, 3/8 inch to expose the lower sheet. Run a bead of glue along the exposed 3/8 inch of the lower sheet. Fold the lower sheet over onto the top sheet. Set the next sheet set on top of the top sheet, move the new top sheet over to the right, 3/8 inch. Run a bead of glue along the exposed 3/8 inch of the lower sheet, and fold it over onto the top sheet. Continue gluing and folding the sheet sets, moving them over 3/8 inch on alternating sides until they are all glued together to create the main body of the tissue paper balloon.

  6. 6

    Lay the tissue balloon flat on your workspace. Measure the circumference of the top open space. Cut a circle of tissue paper to the size of the top opening, plus 1/8 inch. Glue the circle over the top hole of the balloon, overlapping the top edge by 1/8 inch.

  7. 7

    Twist together the ends of pipe cleaners to create a hoop that will fit into the bottom opening. Tie the end of a 50-foot fishing line onto the pipe cleaner hoop to make the balloon string. Insert the hoop into the bottom opening, 1 inch up from the edge. Run a bead of white glue along the top of the pipe cleaner hoop. Fold the bottom edge of the tissue paper balloon over the piper cleaner hoop and press it into the glue. Wait for the glue to dry.

  8. 8

    Carefully open the tissue paper balloon and check to make sure that all the glued edges have held. If you find any tears, patch them with pieces of the scrap tissue paper that you set aside. Once the glue has completely dried, take the balloon outside. Hold the fishing line in one hand and the balloon high up over a lit fire. Let the tissue paper balloon fill up with hot air and release it to watch it fly.

Tips and warnings

  • You can download a template to use as a guide to cut out pieces of the tissue to make the panels for the hot air balloon for free. Just type "tissue hot air balloon template" in your preferred search engine to find one.
  • Be careful when holding flammable materials, such as tissue paper, over an open flame, as they can catch on fire.

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