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How to Spray Paint a Bowling Ball to Make Garden Gazing Art

Lori is a budget-conscious crafter who enjoys coming up with creative uses for everyday objects.

Learn how to use space-painting techniques to create gorgeous garden art from used bowling balls!

Learn how to use space-painting techniques to create gorgeous garden art from used bowling balls!

Make Your Own Garden Gazing Balls by Painting Bowling Balls

"Space painting" with spray paint is a hot craze, and you'll frequently see space-painted items for sale at beachside locations and on city streets. Although there are some really amazing spray-paint artists, the technique is easy enough that anyone can do it. You do not need any sort of painting talent or experience. You do need to understand the technique first so you can work quickly, because speed is necessary.

I am going to take you through this space-painting technique step by step—and, on top of that, I am going to show you how to create something completely unique: a gorgeous space-painted garden gazing ball!

You'll need a cheap bowling ball, a candlestick (or other base), some outdoor spray paint, and other supplies for this project.

You'll need a cheap bowling ball, a candlestick (or other base), some outdoor spray paint, and other supplies for this project.

Supply List

  • Bowling ball. You don't have to purchase a new ball; I scored several balls at a garage sale for only a few dollars. I run into used bowling balls fairly often, so with a little hunting around on eBay, craigslist, or local garage sales, you should be able to find them, too.
  • Base for the ball. I used a glass candlestick that I bought from the local dollar store.
  • Outdoor spray paint. You'll need to get black and white, but the other colors are up to you.
  • Newspaper or a dropcloth. You'll want to spread out something to keep your painting area clean.
  • Gorilla Glue. If you plan on keeping your gazing ball on the candlestick, you will have to glue it down with an adhesive that will not wear off; I suggest Gorilla Glue. Don't glue the ball to the base until you've finished painting, since you'll want to seat your ball at the best angle, and you won't know that until it's done!
  • High-gloss outdoor sealant. Once you are finished painting, you will want to seal the ball with an outdoor paint sealant. Make sure you purchase the high-gloss variety.
  • Glossy magazine. You will also need a good-quality magazine that has pages with high-gloss pictures. You will need to tear the high-gloss pages out and keep them near you so that you can grab them quickly.
  • Paper cups, bottle caps, and the lids of the spray-paint cans. These will help you create circle shapes on the ball. You can use anything that resembles a cap for this, and you will need several different sizes. Gather a bunch of them—it's better to collect too many than too few, and the project will look nicer in the end if you use a wide variety of sizes.
  • Glue gun with low-heat glue sticks. This will help you temporarily position the cups and bottle caps on the ball.
  • Glow-in-the-dark paint. This is optional, and you won't need it until the very end.
You'll need to apply several layers of paint to the bowling ball.

You'll need to apply several layers of paint to the bowling ball.

Step 1: Apply Several Layers of Spray Paint to the Ball

I normally start with a layer of white and apply three colors to it. Overlap the paint layers on top of each other and work quickly. You don't want the paint to dry before you move on to the next step; this isn't the time to answer the phone!

Keep in mind that space painting on a ball is different from working on flat paper. You want to work fast and focus on one planet at a time before moving the ball. This is because if you use too much paint, it will drip.

Keep that magazine paper handy—you'll need to apply it while the paint is still wet!

Keep that magazine paper handy—you'll need to apply it while the paint is still wet!

Step 2: Press the Magazine Paper Onto the Wet Paint

Quickly press one of the pages onto the ball, wait a few seconds, then lift it. Remember to use magazines with glossy paper, not matte. The matte finish removes too much paint from the ball.

You never know what you'll see when you remove the paper!

You never know what you'll see when you remove the paper!

Step 3: Remove the Magazine Paper

The paper will take some of the paint with it, leaving behind unique and beautiful shapes. The photo shows what I saw after I lifted up my paper. What I love about space painting is that it creates something new and unexpected every time!

The cups and caps help you create planet shapes on the ball.

The cups and caps help you create planet shapes on the ball.

Step 4: Create Planets With the Cups and Caps

You use the cups and caps to shield a circular section of the ball, then spray around it with black paint. When you remove the cup, you'll have a design that looks like a colorful, round planet floating in space!

  1. First, use a dot of low-heat hot glue to hold the cup or cap in place on the ball. It's important that the cup stays put to protect the planet from getting covered with the black paint. While that's not a problem on a flat piece of paper, the cup will fall right off the ball, especially if you're creating a lot of planets.
  2. Spray around the cup with black paint. I usually like to put some white right above the planet and then paint over it with black so that the planet glows.
  3. Let the paint dry for about 10 minutes before you turn the ball to work on the next planet. This prevents the paint from dripping.
  4. Keep working around the ball with different sizes of caps and cups. Leave them in place while working on the next one so that none of your planets get painted over. By the end, your bowling ball will resemble a landmine.
  5. Remove all the cups and caps when you've finished. The drops of low-heat hot glue should peel off the ball easily.
  6. Take a moment to admire your work!
Scroll to Continue

Read More From Feltmagnet

You can see the various sizes of planets I created on this gazing ball.

You can see the various sizes of planets I created on this gazing ball.

Step 5: Finish the Gazing Ball

  1. Let the paint dry fully.
  2. Seal the ball with the spray sealant, then let that dry fully.
  3. Once your ball is sealed and dry, you can adhere it to the candlestick—or, if you prefer, you can buy a gazing ball stand. If you're going to use the candlestick, I would use a small amount of Gorilla Glue because the bond will be permanent and it will withstand the weight of the ball. I have not had trouble with the balance of my balls made this way, and we get a lot of wind.

More Advanced Techniques to Try

The ball in this step-by-step guide is done very simply because I want everyone to be brave enough to try the techniques. Once you feel confident about making a basic space-painted gazing ball, you can try some of the following methods.

Comets

To create comets on paper, you turn the can upside-down and rest the nozzle on the paper. You then tap it once, and you get a comet. However, you can't do that on a sphere, so I sprayed one side of a card and let the paint rest in the V that forms between the cardboard and the ball.

Turn off the lights! Here's my gazing ball with glow-in-the-dark decorations.

Turn off the lights! Here's my gazing ball with glow-in-the-dark decorations.

Glow-in-the-Dark Stars

I used an excellent glow-in-the-dark paint for these decorations. The paint has a slight tint to it, but it's mostly clear. To create the appearance of stars, I applied the paint to my fingers and flicked it onto the ball. After applying the paint, I let the ball charge in the sun.

Keep in mind that not all glow-in-the-dark paint works the same. Some types only work under a black light, and others charge during the day and glow as it gets dark. For my gazing ball, I used Glow Inc. brand paint.

Watch Space Painting Videos to Learn Even More Techniques

I liked this video because the presenter is an excellent space painter, and she really shows what you can do with the different layers. I didn't apply some of these techniques to the ball because I was not painting it from the perspective of a planet; I wanted it to look like you were floating out in space. You also can't spray the whole ball at once because the paint would drip, so the video helps illustrate the differences in technique between painting on paper and on a sphere.

Ready to Try It? Practice With a Flat Painting First

Before using a ball, I recommend that you try a few flat pictures first so you can learn how to work quickly. Speed is the key with space painting because the paint dries so fast. If you find you need more moisture, just spray some clear paint in between the layers, like the artist does in the video.

I will probably end up painting over the ball shown in the photos and making it a little bit more detailed. For now, I am putting it out in my garden among all my other pieces of art. Good luck creating your own recycled garden art!

I would love to hear your comments about this lens

Ms. V on February 28, 2017:

I have a bowling bowl but it's not the shinny kind. It's more like a rough black matte material. Almost feels like suede? Would this still work??

Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on May 16, 2015:

I love this idea. I think I even have a few bowling balls. Thanks for this.

Corrinna Johnson from BC, Canada on June 08, 2014:

Love this idea! They look like a lot of fun to make and I can imagine they would look gorgeous in my garden!

Reshel from Sierra Nevada ~ Reno on March 30, 2014:

Lovely Gazing Ball, will have to try to do one this summer. Thanks for your great lens!

anonymous on June 13, 2013:

Wow, what a great idea, thanx for the inspiration and sharing the know how. I look forward to trying this in my garden

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on June 01, 2013:

A really great way to recycle old bowling balls.