Recycling bowling balls to make garden art!
Whether you’re a master glass artist, or just starting out with seashells, pebbles, pennies, or marbles, flea market bowling balls make sturdy bases for garden mosaics. Gather your glue and patience, and take a look at some of these inspirational designs for mosaics for all levels of expertise:
Reflections in the Round –
Expert level crafters can make the ultimate in illusions with mirrors and glass. Although it fools the eye and looks transparent, the stand for Charlette Clark’s amazing gazing ball (shown above) is a solid column. Black grout and mirrors create the illusion of lacy metal work. Fencing and trellis in black positioned nearby enhances the see-through effect of Charlette’s magical orb.
- If you want to try a similar project, stained glass and half-marbles can be purchased from a crafts shop, and mirrors from a big-box hardware store.
- Start with mini mirror tiles from a craft shop or check out our glass cutting tips below! [ Buy supplies through our Amazon store and help support this site! ]
Easy and Ingenious –
- Kathleen McQueen Wright mixed a bit of grout into some of her colors to make “chalk paint” for the faux-mosaic on the top right for a quick-start, charming way to get a mosaic effect. Erase mistakes with a baby wipe while the work is in progress!
- Make a mystical monochrome gazing ball with solid color half-marbles. Linda Tkacuck Gillenwaters displays her romantic pearl creation in a giant seashell.
- Marie Neimann and Kirk Willis made the penny balls on the left. For shiny pennies like Kirk’s copper sphere, clean with white vinegar first, and dry thoroughly before gluing.
- Marie’s verdigris copper ball is a double layer of pennies so there are no gaps to disguise. Kirk opted to spray paint his sphere with a copper-toned enamel.
- For the aged-copper effect, mix 1/4 cup each of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar and two teaspoons of salt—dab or spray on finished pennies, but do not dry off.
- A muffin tin makes a great organizer for mosaic projects, as Sue Langley shows in her photo. Here’s how she made her whimsical mosaic gazing ball at this link.
More gazing ball projects tips:
- Extend your mosaic design onto a column or pedestal to match your sphere, or find fun metal holders from flea markets like the whimsical bird above, by Sue and Larry Langley.
- Making a penny ball? You’ll need about $5.00 worth of pennies to cover it, or $10 to cover the gaps as well.
- You can fill the holes in bowling balls, or they can be used to insert metal pipes (copper pipes looks nice) or a piece of rebar, to hold your sphere off the ground.
- Make a fun message-ball as Kathleen McQueen Wright did with black chalk-paint and colorful chalk sticks in the holes.
- Get colorful with grout! It can be painted with ordinary craft paint, in any color. There is no need to seal it, you can touch-up paint if necessary, however, tile and grout sealer may help keep grout from wearing down in rain and wind outdoors.
- It’s a good idea to first sand your sphere or bowling ball or scratch the surface with steel wool to help your glue and grout hold fast.
- Use a waterproof glue like GE Silicon II for windows to attach your pieces.
- Use baby wipes for easy clean up of glue, grout, or paint.
- Glass cutters are readily available in hardware stores. Glass grinders for fine edges, and glass-snapping pliers can be purchased from stained glass suppliers. Be sure to wear work gloves when cutting glass or mirror and work on a non-slip surface—cut glass and mirror edges will extremely sharp.
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Products you may find helpful –