Rattan is the name of more than 600 species of palms that grow in Asia and Africa. Balls made of this thick fibre have been used as lightweight balls in games in these regions for thousands of years. They also function as decorative pieces, as their rustic appearance and simple design lends their appearance to many interior designer's ancient aesthetics. These balls can be woven solid or hollow using fabric stiffener and balloons. You can find the supplies at local craft and yarn stores and pull them together in an afternoon for use as gifts, game pieces, centrepieces or party decorations. If you cannot get your hands on authentic rattan, jute and thick yarn can mimic the look.
Tie the end of one skein of rattan, jute or yarn in a small knot to form a centre piece. Continue to tie knots around the original knot until the knot ball is 1 inch in diameter.
Wrap the fibre around the knot ball in the same direction until the knots are covered with a layer of fibre. Rotate the knot ball in a direction parallel to your position so that every part of the knot ball is evenly covered.
Rotate the covered knot ball 90 degrees and wrap the fibre around this ball again until every piece is covered. Continue to do this until the ball is close to the size you desire.
Wrap the fibre denser in the area you desire a striped pattern to be, instead of wrapping the fibre evenly around the ball. Experiment with different striped designs by concentrating the wraps in different areas.
Cut the fibre with scissors when the ball is as large as you desire and tuck the end of the fibre under the most prominent layer of wrapped fibre. Secure the fibre with a dot of fabric stiffener.
Wrap the fibre around an enlarged balloon until the desired size and aesthetic is achieved to measure out the required amount of jute, rattan or yarn. Cut the fibre to this length.
Soak the fibre in fabric stiffener in a bowl for a few minutes until every surface of the fibre is covered.
Wrap the fibre around the enlarged balloon again, in the same manner as you preferred previously.
Set the covered balloon on the paper towels, which are sitting on top of the plastic bag on a counter, for 24 hours. Rotate the balls every few hours to ensure equal drying time over all surfaces.
Pop the balloon with the needle or sharp knife once the fibre has stiffened sufficiently and remove it with tweezers. Now the hollow balls are ready for use.
Keep the fabric stiffener away from all fabric that is not the fibre you wish to use. It is difficult to wash out.
Be careful using sharp scissors, needles or knives.