A lovely garden craft idea…I have always loved those shiny looking mirror gazing balls. They have been popular since Victorian England which is where they first became a trend (the UK is practically the garden capital of the world – look it up sometime…the countryside is breathtaking!)
But they have made a huge comeback You see gazing balls of all styles and colors these days. I see them in the garden section of those “discount” stores. That’s where I got a couple and I have been grossly disappointed.m The first one I had (metallic silver, I think) faded in the sunlight eventually or the outer coating chipped off….and the second I got, well, let’s just say it had an “accident” when I was outside one day and knocked it over. Ugh! That was the end of that.
Pin for Later?
Another time I had a set of Christmas ball decorations ad one of them was “giant” sized. It was made of some kind of cheap plastic and you guessed it it broke too.
So that is why I think I will make my own.
Believe it or not I got one of those rubber or silicone balls from the toy section (it’s about the size of a bowling ball but of course, way lighter) I looked for one that didn’t have much color on it as you’ll see what i’m going to do shortly. I chose it out of others as the swirly design looks kind of like marble, which will bode well for a coat of paint.
I’ve heard the air goes out of these things eventually. Oh well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it. I’ve got a bicycle pump somewhere so maybe I can reflate it. I may just make this a prototype and use a heavier ball later on.
Anyway, moving along…I thought I’d share some ideas for how you can turn an ordinary sphere into a dazzling outdoor work of art, that you don’t have to worry about getting broken and fading from discoloration.
Where to Find the Ball Base?
First things first…what can you get and repurpose for the ball itself? Well you can follow my example and get a cheap rubber ball like I did.
Or peruse your local Goodwill store, see if you can find a used bowling ball. A nine-pounder is easier to handle (speaking as someone who used to love bowling and tried different sizes, but I digress a little.) Plus they have a swirly pattern in them that if it shows through will look good.
Also…DO NOT use Styrofoam, it will not hold up long term in the outdoors.Once it rains, it’s toast.
Next option is a pottery bowl, these have open sides on the bottom that can be hidden, but they’re easy to paint.
Anyway, once you’ve found your round object, next thing to do is to clean it off, use rubbing alcohol, it will also remove stains if there are any. Don’t use those cleaning wipes as they often have detergents in them that leave soapy residue.. Let dry.
Painting the Ball
Before painting, place your object on something stable like a coffee can, to make it easier. I’m using a Solo cup filled with gravel. I recommend you use spray paint for this, I would look for a paint that is made to stick to plastic. Make wide sweeping strokes with the can and let dry. Spray paint comes in pretty metallic colors too. I’m using blue-this is Krylon Metallics in case you are curious.
I’m using wide sweeping strokes and starting at the top and working my way down in a circle. There are a few “drippies” that’s to be expected – since I can’t turn the ball around right now with wet paint, I came up with a hack -I sprinkled some glitter into the bubbly spots -some of it will will fall off but for the most part it’ll stick and look really cool.
After the paint dries, you can give it another coat if you like (and it may help with coverage) Start at the north pole of the ball (the top) to start your design. If you’re using a bowling ball, turn the ball so the three holes are on the bottom and they won’t show, and admirers will be none the wiser.
Decorating with Mosaic Patterns
You could do a bling pattern here, or do something with mosaic tiles, which may not be shiny looking but still eye catching – it will take some time and you may need to use tile grout too something easier would be to put some bling in the form of glitter, faux gems arranged in a pattern, or small mirror tiles
I love this one with round cabochons in a pattern…I’ll bet it took a long time to do.
(I used to get these at the craft store, they came in round and square shapes, don’t know if these are still abundant?)
Or how about this one….where this hobbyist used old coins….now that looks really jazzy….and he says in his article, that copper if it works its way into the soil, is good for it and can repel pests: If you have a good collection of pennies around (which all of us should…) this would be a great idea. Not to mention that the patina of the copper will really bring out the best in the surrounding.
Image credit: Image by technologyguy
Ideas for the Stand
As far as a stand for your gazing ball, that is tricky, you could find a used stand, perhaps, at a thrift store, or if you saved one from another ball, they are included, most of the time) I’m using an old tomato cage. i used wire cutters to make the top ring open up more to accommodate the ball. Those pedestal platforms that look kind of like pedestals made to support Greco-Romanesque figurine or bust sculptures are ideal
If nothing else, you could always repurpose an empty coffee can into a stand by painting it and filling it up with pea gravel or sand so it will have more stability. Easy -and cheap to do!
Well that’s some ideas, I hope you will enjoy them and come up with something cool and unique to add to your garden display!