When I plan a day of thrift store shopping and yard sale shopping and estate sale shopping, I always have a list.

You know.

A list of things that I’m looking for.

A list of furniture or decor or mirrors or whiteware that I want.

A list of things I have the perfect place for in my home.

I try to stay organized and on-task and centered and focused and within the confines of my pre-approved budget.

And then?

Sometimes in the middle of all that organized shopping, something shows up that I never expected. If I had made a zillion lists on a zillion pieces of paper, I would never have written this item down.

Something so wonderful and amazing that it makes me toss all those lists out the window.

Something like this.

Wait until you see what I found at an estate sale.

First, before you scroll and figure out what it is.

Do you have any guesses?

I asked on Instagram and here are some of the responses that I got:

  • a loom
  • a sock holder
  • a sorter
  • a thread winder
  • a game


Not. Even. Close.

In fairness I had no idea what it was when I walked up to it. They had to tell me.

Here are a few hints:

  1. These things that stick up that look like they belong on the triangle game at Cracker Barrel? They are rubber.
  2. They are slightly different colors.
  3. There are eight rows of them in a wood frame.
  4. Each of the rows is on a wood slat that can be lifted out individually.
  5. The frame has multiple colors on it.

Can you guess?

If you guessed that it’s a…..

…balloon mold.

You would be right.


A mold that they used to use to make balloons.

Apparently a long time ago in a land far away, this is how they made balloons.

Because most balloons were made from latex or rubber, they’d use this mold to form the shape of the balloon. They’d take the mold and dip it into liquid latex or rubber and pull it out.


Those long-ago balloon makers would take the coated form and bake it in the oven.

After the latex or rubber set and cooled, they’d take out the form and peel off the balloons.

I did a little research and apparently balloons are still made the same way.

Except now everything is industrialized and they are making 1000 balloons at the same time on high-tech equipment.

Everything is timed down to a science on machines that do all the work.

So this?

This is part of a bygone era when things were done a little more simply.

It’s an amazing piece of history just waiting to be discovered at an estate sale.

It came home with me and I hung it up on the wall next to the office.

Doesn’t it look like it’s always been there?

It was just sitting there at the estate sale waiting.

It knew it needed to come home with me.

Even if it wasn’t on my list. 🙂

PS What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever found at an estate sale.

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  1. Image for Carrie Carrie

    The specks of colors around the frame....can't you just imagine a mold filled with all the same color balloons and then once those are dry, someone takes the time to reload and color a new set of balloons? And then that balloon maker goes home to dinner and starts off the conversation with "Cobalt blue was my favorite balloon color I made today!" Awww....simpler times. :)

  2. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    Well, you can learn something new every day! What a unique and fascinating piece of history. And a fabby find.

  3. Image for Nancy Maland Nancy Maland

    The BEST-EST finds at Estate Sales are the things not on your list! I love the treasures with a story! This was a fabulous find! Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!

  4. Image for Sue Sue

    I had no idea what that was; although, I really like the muted colors. Very interesting and always compelling how things use to be made or built, especially without all of today's technology and equipment.

  5. Image for MaryS MaryS

    WOW!! That is an exciting find. Who knew?? But someone / somewhere had to be the person who made balloons. The colors are fun and you hung it in a great place in your house. Don't know what you paid, but it's an excellent find. Congrats!!!

  6. Image for DeMarie Ingraham DeMarie Ingraham

    Wow! Now that is an awesome find. Don’t think I’ve ever found something that unique. I couldn't have passed that sooper dooper find up either!

  7. Image for Judy Judy

    WOW...that is certainly a find! I have been to so many estate sales and large antique and flea market sales and have never seen one. I wonder how many people just walked right past it. The colors are so beautiful for being something that was an industrial piece. Great eagle eye Karianne!

    1. Image for Cindy Cindy

      I never would have guessed that in a million years. I loved reading the history behind balloon making. A great piece of history and is simple times. Not to mention it's colors are pretty. Cindy

  8. Image for Ann in Atlanta Ann in Atlanta

    I've seen those many times at the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta - but NEVER in such a GORGEOUS color grouping! Those blues and greens look almost white-washed. You truly scored!

  9. Image for Jennifer Jennifer

    Girl, I'm so jelly! That mold is so cool and the colors are perfect! I've gotten so many great things at estate sales over the years. Probably my most favorite are two glass mixing bowls that were made in France and are just perfection. They are the perfect size for mixing up cookie dough or brownie batter or a batch of potato salad or pasta salad and they are the perfect weight. And I paid $2 a piece for them!


    That is so cool! So much work to make balloons. It looks perfect on your wall! I have found so many things at estate sales over the years. Stopped for a beautiful table and was given a china hutch, side board, and 10 hand carved chairs! Still have all of them.

  11. Image for june june

    Something so simple we take for granted whether filling with water for an old fashioned balloon fight on a hot afternoon or filling with air to enjoy the variety of colors...I truly had no idea the work that must of been involved in creating these little day brighteners. What an awesome find!

  12. Image for Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces

    Oh wow...AMAZING!! What a fabulous find! One of my most fun finds was a vintage metal printing plate for printing bingo cards. You know I love bingo goodies...never thought I'd find one of those.

  13. Image for Eileen Eileen

    The coolest things ever!! I can just see you grabbing it quickly so no one else could claim it....like me if I had been there!!!!!

  14. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    What a great find, i love it when i find something that is so old and had an unusual purpose. A lovely piece and so colorful.

  15. Image for Kathy Menold Kathy Menold

    What a wonderful find. Can't wait to get back my love of yard sales ,thrift stores ect. Since I have done so much self isolation during this pandemic I seem to have lost some of enthusiasm for shopping.. Has anyone else found this happening to them?

  16. Image for Mindy Boggs Mindy Boggs

    When i think of balloons, I think of very bright, vivid colors. Who would have thought the colors left on your balloon mold would be those oh so perfect, sigh-producing soft blues and greens? You hung it in the perfect spot--a chance to smile and sigh with contentment every time you walk by :)

  17. Image for Margaret Mills Margaret Mills

    I knew what is was immediately, for another person I follow wrote about her find a couple of years ago. Those pieces of history are so cool. Glad you found one.

  18. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Am I dreaming this, or didn't one of the air b&b houses you showed us have one of these?? I know I've seen them on a house tour before...

  19. Image for Karen Schriever Karen Schriever

    This really made me 😃..such an amazing find! I dream about finding something so interesting and unusual. I had no idea that was a balloon mold.

  20. Image for Cynde Cynde

    What an amazing find!!!!!! I could be your list sister!!! I do the same thing, but willing to throw out the lists when you find something so amazing, like a balloon mold!!!! I have an old wooden piece that holds large spools from an old factory long long ago, it's pretty large and heavy, but is one of my best finds!! Your prize looks so cute hanging there!!!!!

  21. Image for Linda Chauvin Linda Chauvin

    I swear to God, I guessed it !!!! And that is one of the coolest Finds ever! I’m jelly too .. Has anyone ever heard of a balloon maker ? Never thought about it, but someone had to do it.

  22. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Yeah! I actually knew from the teaser picture before I opened the entire post! Only because my husband loves to watch shows that show how things are made and maybe 6 months ago the one he watched was on how balloons are made. Way way cool find. I would have thrown my list out the window too. It is lovely.

  23. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    Well, I bet you taught us all something new!!! I don't blame you for taking it home how often would you find such a thing??

  24. Image for Mary Mary

    Hi Karianne Thinking back Karianne didn't you once before want to purchase this same item and when you decided to purchase it it was gone-am I right just wondering!

  25. Image for Sandi from the Cape Sandi from the Cape

    Kari Anne! That's an amazing find, especially because it's all in my color wheelhouse! I love it and you got the find of the century, but,.......I want to know what y'all paid for it! Please do tell! AND I hope because of Covid and your state is not in the best statistical state right now;I hope you had your mega masks on when you visited this sale! We need you to continue doing what you're doing, so I'm going to be the mask police! My best finds have come from our local landfill/dump/gift house as they call it. People bring to this building what they don't need/want/want to get rid of without throwing it all away. I've found so many things to decorate my house with, given my daughter a toile black and white comforter for her new home and objects I've spruced up and sold at a wonderful profit! Too many to list, but unfortunately now with this Damn Panic, it's all closed down. Let's visualize a world free of virus soon so we can all get back to normalcy! Great find, thanks for sharing!

  26. Image for Ann C Ann C

    I found a ten foot long bench from an old church camp at a yard sale. It was back when we didn’t have extra $ but I convinced him to come down on the price. I was so excited but then had to ask him to help me load it into my pick up. I’ve had it for probably thirty years and love it still. No paint on it.

  27. Image for Michele M Michele M

    What a cool, fascinating, weird and wacky treasure to find. Only you, KA, only you would find a balloon mold from yesteryear and make it amazing wall art. Coolest thing I found was 2 REALLY OLD clay vessels to hold olive oil. I paid maybe $2 for them and sold them for more than I care to share. Loved those things too but knew they had value.

  28. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I knew because I saw them in Atlanta at the Merchandise Market a few years ago. They were very expensive there and I LOVED them!!! I will admit that I didn’t know what they were before the market. Decorators were using them just as you are. Lucky find!!!! I would also like to know the price you paid. I feel like they were several hundred dollars (maybe $500) when I saw them. The most valuable thing I have found is original artwork.

  29. Image for Lin Lin

    Oh I love it! Doing a Internet search, I see there are some out there to be found, but none as pretty as yours and my they are pricey! Yours is gorgeous and I know you found yours at a great steal deal!

  30. Image for Stacey Stacey

    Love it!!! All the blues and greens are just beautiful!! That place on your wall was just waiting for it to come home! Perfect!!🥰

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