Sunday, December 11, 2016

DIY Chocolate Frog Ornaments For Your Tree!

Here's a project that got completely out of hand for our Potter party, but you guys, I love it so much:

Chocolate frogs!

Ahh, but not just ANY chocolate frogs, because while these look - and smell! AW YEAH! - like real chocolate, they're actually handmade resin ornaments:

 

Which we personalized as favors for our party guests:


Each comes in a hand-cut and folded box I spent ages perfecting:

On the right is the official Chocolate Frog box from Universal Studios, and on the left is my own, made using Danny McMurray's fantastic free template.
 

Once I had Danny's template John and I experimented with several kinds and weights of paper, ink saturation, and color tone to get the most professional looking print. Then we spent another age figuring out the perfect scoring pattern for folding, which you have to do on the back to prevent scratching the finish. After much practice, it takes me about 40 minutes to cut, score, fold, and assemble a single box - but it's totally worth it.
Over the course of making these we had to buy a new printer, and the new inks gave us a more purple box. I think I like the purple better, so thought I'd show you both!

Of course you don't HAVE to make the boxes to go with these ornaments - those are just a nice plus. So don't despair; you can make the ornaments themselves much faster, and really crank 'em out if you do them in batches like we did.

SO LET'S MAKE SOME.

You Will Need:

- This CK Products chocolate frog mold, OR one that makes frogs between 2.5 and 3 inches long. 

 We found ours at a candy supply shop for I think $2, but you can also hit that Amazon link up there and get it for less than $5. I highly recommend buying two molds, though. You'll see why soon.

 - Mold Release Spray


We used this one. It's less than $9 on Amazon, or check your local craft stores. (I can tell you now JoAnn's & Michael's don't carry it, though. :/) While this spray is optional with silicone molds, it is ESSENTIAL for plastic candy molds. Without it you will destroy your mold, so heed my voice of experience!


- Amazing Casting Resin, which you can find here on Amazon for about $12.



- Satin brown craft paint & (optional) chocolate scented oil:

I know this paint bottle says gloss, but we ultimately went with a satin, which looks better.

The oil is cheap but hard to find, so again, here it is on Amazon for $3.

- Heavy Weight Satin Photo Paper 

Gloss photo paper is too sticky, and while flat card stock does look cute, it will never look like a professional store packaging. So trust me, go with satin photo paper.


I realize this is around $30 in materials, but keep in mind they'll go a VERY long way. After 25 frogs we still have nearly full bottles of oil, paint, and even the release spray. Your only limiting factor is the resin, but that Amazing resin kit should still yield around 20 frogs.


Now, let's make some frogs!


Everything online will tell you cannot - CANNOT - use a plastic candy mold for resin. And this is mostly true. The resin heats up as it cures, which can warp the thin plastic of the mold. More importantly, the resin will fuse with the plastic, making it impossible to remove without destroying the mold.

So how'd we do it?

With SCIENCE!!

Step 1: Apply a generous coat of Mold Release Spray over your frog molds, then let dry.

When it's dry, repeat with a second heavy coat, dabbing out any pooling excess with a paper towel.

This is how your mold should look when it's proper coated: powdery and filmy.


Step 2: Mix and pour your resin into the molds

Step 3: After the resin has solidified and cooled - about 15 minutes - put the entire mold in the freezer.  Leave it there at least an hour, but preferably more.

Step 4: 

Remove the mold from the freezer, flip it right side up, and immediately heat the tops of the frogs with a hair dryer. Blast each frog top for several seconds, but not so long that the resin inside gets hot. You may hear some scary cracking sounds, but DON'T PANIC; that's just the resin popping free from the plastic.

Step 5: WHACK IT, son! By which I mean, drop the mold with all due force onto a hard surface, like your counter top. Ooh and aah over all the frogs that popped out. Amaze your friends. Confound your enemies. Repeat.
 

Because the frogs require a relatively small amount of resin, they shouldn't produce enough heat to warp your mold. (Ours didn't.) However, this process takes a little experimenting, which is why I recommend having TWO frog molds on hand, in case one warps/gets stuck/is otherwise rendered unusable.


Before you paint your resin frogs, the bottoms will need some sanding to get the edges and shine off. John had some serious overflow on ours, so he broke out the power tools:


A belt sander on its back makes incredibly quick work of excess resin, no cutting or trimming required. If you don't want to go this route, though, just plop down a piece of rough sandpaper and rub the frog bottoms around on it. Same thing.

Then a final quick pass with a sanding sponge to soften the edges.


Muuuch better.


Now, we paint!

While almost any sheen will look like chocolate, after trying them all we like satin best. Gloss looks too much like plastic (and shows brush strokes), while flat (like the one in the upper left) just isn't fancy/pretty enough. Satin is juuust right.

Before you paint, add a few drops of chocolate oil to your paint palette. Aim for roughly 2 drops of oil for every tablespoon of paint. You could try even more oil, but I worry about it interfering with the paint drying properly, so test it first.

Apply with a soft brush, to minimize brush strokes:

As soon as the paint dries you'll have nothing but a delicious chocolate smell left, no oily residue at all. I can't tell you how long the scent will last, exactly, but ours still smell fabulous three weeks later. You might store them in an airtight bag, though, to help preserve that chocolatey goodness.

OK! That's the hard part done.

Now let's print the frog cards.

Danny's original box template has this lovely bottom art:


(The Universal boxes have ugly bar codes and ingredient lists here, so this is MUCH nicer.)

John grabbed that bottom section, erased the text, shrank it slightly, and duplicated it to make templates for our frog cards:


You'll need two cards per frog: a front and a back. Right-click and download that image, then use any graphics program to add your choice of text to the back, like this:


Cut them out, then stick them together using double-stick tape. (Line all the edges with tape, so the corners don't lift.)

Btw, I tried every kind of glue in the drawer for this - even special paper glue -  but NOTHING worked. It was either goopy and warped the paper or refused to dry, even overnight. Arg. But the tape works great!

You can either punch a small hole in the card to hang it, or go the fancy route and add a gold eyelet:

I used my trusty Crop-A-Dile for this.


Now glue your frog to the card with either hot glue or E-6000, and you're done!






Ribbon hangers would look lovely, but I bought some gorgeous swirly ornament hangers instead, which I tucked inside the boxes under the cards:

 I found them (surprise!) on Amazon, but it looks like the price went up since then. I paid under $7 for 30. A little pricey, but they're the prettiest hangers I've ever seen, and fit the cards perfectly:


Now, I'm not going to walk you through the frog box assembly - there is too much! - but I will list a few tips:


- Danny's instructions have you cut off the tabs from the box template, but I didn't do that. I found the tabs invaluable in holding the box together when combined with the proper slits, so experiment and see what works for you.

- Satin photo paper looks best.

- Double stick tape is your friend; again, no glue I've found will stick.

- Have a ruler and something sharp (like an ice pick) on hand for scoring. Score everything you can on the BACK side, so it won't ruin the finish. I actually pierced the paper in the 5 corners, so the tiny holes would act as guidelines for my scoring. Once the box is folded, you can't see these at all.

- While you're scoring things, score the top of the box, too, to give it those gem-like facets. Most frog boxes don't do this, but it's more authentic (the real boxes have them), looks better, and makes assembly easier. Win-win-win!



- Get a purple or blue marker to color in the top overlapping paper edge; the white is distracting. (This is for the true perfectionist, because I know I'm not the only one! Ha!)

Mostly these boxes just require practice and experimenting, so read Danny's Instructable, look at my photos, and then have at it. Once you get the process down, they're actually quite soothing to make, and a nice craft while watching TV.


Here are some of our finished Frog Boxes from the night of our Potter party:



There were more stacked underneath in the table cubbies:


Sadly I don't have a better photo of this, since we gave almost all of the Frogs away that night as party favors!

I still haven't perfected the Bertie Bott's boxes - you can see there I've been experimenting with sizes - but I may have a cute little ornament papercraft (with a simplified box template) for you later this month.

Hope you guys enjoyed! And hey, if you love what John and I do and want to help us do more of it,  please consider shopping through our Amazon affiliate links either here in this post or on the blog sidebar. Or if you REALLY want to make it rain at the Yates' household, you can become a monthly supporter through Paypal. Thanks, guys! 

****

Want more crafts? Then check out my Craft Page to see ALL my tutorials in one place!

31 comments:

  1. Fascinating post. I have some ornaments that came with the swirly hangers attached, and they have the large swirl as the part that goes on the tree branch, and it works very well. The single loop can be crimped to keep it on the ornament.

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    1. You know, I've seen it both ways, so I always wonder which way is up! I figure the big swirl is the pretty part, so I like that to be more visible - plus it's harder to hang the swirl on thicker branches - but leave it to me to find a way to hang it upside down. :D

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    2. We recently got those pretty, swirly hooks in silver at WalMart. I think they had both colors and they were $.98 for 20!

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    3. Nope, I do mine the same way. I think the swirly part should show, and the smaller hook side is easier to get on the tree. Our way is better!

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    4. i've always seen the large swirly part as the part that attaches to the ornament to keep in on. the single hook over the branch makes sense in my head. now i am doubling myself and the ornaments on my tree!

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  2. I just read this whole post with my jaw dropped open. These are AMAZING!!!

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  3. As for glue: the dry-to-dry rubber cement trick is the best one to have up your sleeve. Basically, brush a thin coat of rubber cement on each surface, let both dry, then stick together. You MUST get it straight before making contact -- once it sticks, it sticks. Works great, will not crinkle paper, as it is designed for that use.

    Enjoy.

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    1. Ooh, that sounds like contact cement! Had no idea you could use rubber cement that way, so thanks for the tip!

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    2. I'm not positive, but I don't think rubber cement is very permanent. The stuff I have made after a while seems to come back apart.

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  4. You guys always amaze me. I love all the details and totally don't know why I hadn't thought to add scent oil to my paint before?! I want to make a few new ornaments now. Lol

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  5. I got those exact same swirly hangers at Grocery Outlet for maybe $2 per twelve? They are fab.

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  6. My local Dollar Tree has had the swirly ornament hangers the past few years but they're silver :)

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  7. Gorgeous work! So nice of you guys to always work out all the details and then share the secrets with us. Super kind and generous!

    We always shop through your Amazon affiliate link. Wish we could do more, and I know it's not much, but I also know that every little bit helps.

    I wish more people would just take the time to bookmark your link so that every time they open Amazon, it would go straight to your page. Only takes a few seconds to set it up. Get on it, people! It costs you nothing extra and helps Jen continue to bring us amazingness like this post!

    KW

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  8. Um...can I buy one? Love it. As usual, you rock.

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  9. FYI I have found those swirly ornament hooks at the Dollar Tree (only in silver) . Hopefully this helps someone who wants some. :)

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  10. I also found those swirly hooks at Hobby Lobby, but in both gold and silver, for about 1.50 for 25. They also had variations of them with beads and filigree bits.
    These ornaments look absolutely amazing Jen! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  11. The ornament boxes you made look more professional than the official boxes! They look great! Now if only I could get my SO into Harry Potter (he just doesn't get the magic...sigh).

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  12. Those are absolutely gorgeous!! However, I have to admit to a huge sense of disappointment when I realised that it wasn't real chocolate. I think I'm going to go eat a Reese Peanut Butter Cup to make myself feel better.

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    1. Ha! Nah, chocolate's too easy for us. We need to make everything EXCESSIVELY COMPLICATED, doncha know. ;)

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  13. Yet another amazing project. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  14. These are sooooooo coolamatious!!! WOW! Your frog box looks way better than the Universal one. The frogs look exactly like chocolate (I wonder how many people will be fooled when they see them on a tree).

    How did you guys manage to paint them so perfectly without getting fingerprints all over them? Mine would look like a bad day at the crime scene unit!

    -Zippy

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  15. you two are kinda my heroes! most EXCELLENT work!

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  16. As always,an incredible job! Your crafts and your teamwork always turn out spectacular results. :) Keep it up!

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  17. These are stunning, but one thing I noticed is that you seem to be sanding resin dry and without any protective equipment (that I can see, anyway).

    PLEASE DON'T DO THIS! Resin dust gets EVERYWHERE and is incredibly damaging to to your lungs. Sand it under water and wear a respirator.

    Also, if you want to do something on a similar scale but with less hassle, make liquid silicone molds! Push the plastic frog mold onto polymer clay or something similar, build a wall around it (I've used everything from Lego bricks to old plastic containers before, so it shouldn't be hard to find something suitable) and pour in the silicone mix. It's easier to use and clean and removing the pieces will take about 5 seconds, though you should wait 24 hours before using the mold for resin and using mold release, while not necessary, will help prolong the life of the mold.

    Sorry if I sound patronising, by the way, I don't mean to be! I just know how hard it can be to work with resin and want to help you save some time so you can make more amazing crafts like these :)

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  18. Random question, but for the Amazon.com affiliate links do they also work if you click them, then navigate to Amazon.ca to make the purchase?

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  19. Gee, I saw the link for "chocolate frog" and the first thing that went through MY head was Monty Python. http://www.montypython.net/scripts/crunchy.php

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  20. Try a Hera marker sometime. Ask at a quilt shop but it's made by Clover if you want to buy online. Will leave a crease (which fades away when marking quilts. Marking in this context means drawing a line but nothing permanent.) Am crap at explaining things. Lovely project.

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  21. I used that same mold to make chocolate frogs and peppermint toads for a HP trivia night! Wish I had your box tutorial then! Beautiful as always!

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  22. I am so having a Harry Potter party for my birthday next year. And my daughter's birthday too. She will be 11!

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  23. Jen,
    These are awesome! I am interested in what kind of printer you were using. I need a new one and the quality of your item is great.
    Thanks,
    Iantha

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  24. Hey so uh, pro tip: Don't leave the mold in the freezer overnight because you forgot you were making frogs.


    Buying more molds so I can try again!

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