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How to turn a bowling ball into a garden sphere

Garden Spheres

Made from Bowling Balls


I have recently acquired a passion for turning bowling balls into gazing balls or garden spheres. You may have seen them on some Garden Junk forums where they are commonly referred to as BBs. This page will be dedicated to the ones I make. Please note that I am not an expert by any means, I am just posting how I make mine and I will report back if I have trouble with them holding up well outside. I suggest, you do more research if you want to make your own. There is no right way or wrong way to make one, but since there are so many variables involved, such as the kind of glue or paint you are using, the amount you use and your weather conditions, what works for one person may not work for another. I will update this page as I find out new techniques and test new tips for making these. And as always, if you have any questions or want to add your own thoughts on the subject, e-mail me.

General Guidelines for Painting Bowling Balls

  1. If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, bring your bowling balls inside for the winter. A dry storage shed is fine. Otherwise they could crack during the freeze and thaw cycles.
  2. You can find bowling balls at garage sales, thrift stores and bowling alleys. Many times you can get them for free at bowling alleys or on Freecycle, all you have to do is ask.
  3. The longer a project cures inside a controlled environment, whether it be painted or glued, the better it will hold up outside.
  4. Always start with a clean and prepped bowling ball. Use rubbing alcohol or vinegar to get the wax finish off the ball. Sand lightly to rough up the surface, then rinse and dry the ball before painting.
  5. Sit your ball on a coffee can or some other object to make it easier to work on.
  6. You may want to fill the holes with concrete or wood putty filler. I will often fill the hole with aluminum foil, then just fill in the end with putty or thinset moratr. Leave one hole uncovered if you plan on using rebar/re-rod to display your ball.
  7. Use a paint designed for plastics, or use a plastic primer before painting. I find that spray paint is easier to work with. Always choose a paint that is rated for outdoor use.
  8. Sealing a project with 2-3 layers of an outdoor polyurethane will help the paint job last longer.

How to paint bowling balls properly and turn them into garden art

Above is my version of a copper gazing ball, which I made in 2005. I prepped the ball, used a plastic primer first, then used a copper colored spray paint. I finished it off with 3 layers of polyurethane that contains a UV protectant. It still looks as good today as it did then.

How to paint bowling balls properly and turn them into garden art

The above ball was painted with FleckStone spray paint. I prepped the ball first before painting with FleckStone. I finished it off with 3 layers of sealer especially for this type of paint.

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