Make a Little Valentine’s Gumball Machine!

Little Gumball Machine Valentine

Little Gumball Machine Valentine

In this household, we frequently use our quarters on those vending machines with the colorful bubbles with the tiny toys inside– sometimes they’re for the kiddo, sometimes I claim them for me.  Hey, don’t judge, I’m a miniaturist, remember?  Anyway, those things come in two sizes, and I often find other uses in the miniature realm for the smaller ones, but the larger bubbles tend to accumulate before I can repurpose them.  I probably have enough that I could do these for Fox’s entire classroom of less than twenty, but these would be especially great if you’re looking for something a little more ‘special’ for just a few kiddos.

I was inspired by the line “Valentine, I CHEWS you!” on a vintage paper valentine I saw somewhere online.  (I looked, I don’t remember.)  It was a classic boy and girl duo, and the boy was blowing an enormous bubble with “CHEWS” filling the circle of the bubble.  I should have pinned it, but you can sort of picture that, right?  Something about the sweet, cornball nature of the line stuck in my head, sort of repeating itself over and over like it was a dancey seventies disco groove, and eventually, this popped into mind along with it.  I fiddled around with the design a little, and I realized that my idea is actually really, really easy to put together, and the finished effect is fairly darling!


Everything You Need

Everything You Need


  • larger-sized plastic vending machine bubbles (the kind that are a dome with a smaller lid, not the half-and-half, divided-through-the-equator kind), 1 per Valentine
  • scrapbook paper in shades of pink and red, or smallish Valentinesy patterns like hearts and cupcakes (you can get four from a page)
  • scissors
  • scotch tape
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • markers, stickers, glue and glitter, etc. for decorating
  • bag of gumballs (those tiny size chicklets would be AWESOME I think, but I didn’t see any on my quick hunt at the grocery)
  • small 7″ child’s or dessert plate (this diameter is important for your gumball machine’s fit, if you do not have a plate that is the right dimension, look for a round tin or bowl until you find something the right size.)
  • larger sized dinner plate (this can vary– go with a smaller dish around 8″ for a smaller machine base, larger for a taller one– whatever you think will work best for you!)

Trace the Bigger PlateStep 1*  Wash and dry your bubbles, especially if you will be putting unwrapped candies in there.  I would even if you’re going with wrapped ones, just because, ya’know, its kids and candy and vending machines and stuff.

Step 2*  Center your your larger plate and trace the perimeter with a pencil on the scrapbook paper, using a ruler to mark a centerpoint if needed.  That stiffer two-sided paper is perfect for this project, because it will hold up your plastic bubble better and you can use the scrap pieces on the other side for the taggie embellishment part.  (I actually think this blue plate was a little too big, but there’s no wrong answer here.)

Trace the Smaller CircleStep 3*  Carefully center your 7″ second circle (you will see in a few steps that I didn’t really do that great of a job with mine).  The dimension of this plate allows you to get exactly four bubble machine bases out of your one sheet, because this is the edge that wraps around the tiny ridge in the bubble’s lid.  Trace around it.



Cut Into QuartersStep 4* Fold the paper into quarters, and carefully clip at those seams, dividing your scrapbook sheet into four equal parts.




Cut the Pieces OutStep 5*  Clip the pencil lines, making four pieces that look like a stretched-out letter “C.”  Keep the extra pieces for the embellishment of this project, or for later use.  You will note that the pattern is a little wonky everywhere, I kind of think it can’t be helped.  If you hate it, choose solid paper.




Tape the Short EdgesStep 6*  Using a piece of scotch tape slightly shorter than your seam, tape from the backside on one end of the strip, and then match the other end up so they just meet.  If for some reason one of your ‘short’ sides is slightly er, um, longer than the other (’cause, you, uh, maybe didn’t bother to align that second circle well, we’ll say), match them up at the top edge and then with scissors try and carefully snip a little excess.



Almost Done!Step 7*  Fill your plastic bubbles with your sweetie bubbles.  I easily got twelve gumballs in the dome with room to spare, but I think a little underfilled looks better than completely full.  Just my opinion, you do what you like the most.

Step 8*  There is a lip on the colored lids of these plastic domes that your paper rings will perfectly pop into.  Gravity and tension do the trick of holding it all together, but you may want to add a couple of bits of clear tape to the underside to secure them if you will be moving or transporting them quite a bit, like if you wanted to hand them out in class.

Make Your Frontplate Tag

Step 9*  Make a small template for your four machine frontplate tags.  I went a little bit bigger than necessary for two reasons– 1 is that all my fine-tip markers but black were MIA, and black is too severe for this project and 2 my kid can only sign his name so small, he’s only six.  You’re looking for something a couple of inches tall by an inch and a half or so wide.  I folded a little snippet in half and clipped my curve so that it would be symmetrical, and then used it as a template to trace and cut a few more out of pink paper.

Step 10*  Carefully write your message and sign your ‘tag’.  If you are making a large amount of these, you could easily make a sheet or two of printies and snip them out en masse.  As we are only doing a few for our diner party in two weeks so handwriting them seemed more personal.

The original line was “Valentine, I CHEWS You!” but you could easily write “You’re As Sweet As CANDY!” or I dunno, “My Heart Gets GUMMY When I Think Of You!”  All kinds of goofy affectionate puns could work here.

Finished Gumball MachineStep 11* Attach your faceplate/ tag with a little loop of scotch tape.  You’re ready to go!  Very very cute and quite original, I think!

I think the shorter base is a little more realistic looking, but either way they’re adorable.  Its a hard project to mess up, and it requires no special tools or materials.  If you make them, please show them off, I’d love to see your finished result!  And Happy Valentine’s Day!


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