mirrored gazing ball
Image Credits: flowergardengirl, gardens2you

We all love the look of the mirrored gazing balls in the garden. They add light in a shady corner, a fanciful flair in a garden bed, or a little fantasy next to a pond or birdbath. There are two problems with them though…they can be expensive, and they can break easily. If you live where its windy or stormy like I do, its a no can do. And they average around $40 a piece! Thatโ€™s not an amount of cash I want to lose in a windstorm.

Here at TGG we have found a really cool way to make mirrored balls, using recycled materials and an inexpensive product from the craft store, and they don’t break! Here it is, how to make mirrored gazing balls for the garden, on a budget.

Step One:

We used old bowling balls as the base, and picked them up at Good Will for under $5. Try to find bowling balls with the finger holes close together so that they can be hidden easier.

bowling ball for mirrored gazing ball

Step Two:

Buyย Original Chrome Metallic spray paint from the craft shop, less than $5!

TRV370072

Step Three:

Make sure you have an area safe to spray paint, and cover the surface with newspaper or a tarp. Clean the bowling balls well with rubbing alcohol to make sure the paint adheres well.

Step Four:

Lightly spray one side of the bowling ball. Let dry one hour. Roll over, and repeat. Repeat as often as necessary to achieve the amount of reflection you desire.

Step Five:

Spray with a clear gloss sealer to protect from the elements if desired.ย  Test in an inconspicuous place first. Allow to dry at least 24 hours before placing outside. One of our readers had issues with the sealer she used dulling the reflection… Be sure to do a test first.

One can of spray paint made three balls for us.

Three gazing balls from the store? $120.

Three unbreakable gazing balls from TGG’s Diy Projects? $20!

This is the photo that inspired this project.

mirrored gazing balls garden
Image Credits: flowergardengirl, gardens2you

Be creative with your gazing balls. Display them in groups or singly on an old pedestal.

So you have a weekend project, right? If you can’t find bowling balls at your local thrift store, we recommend contacting your local bowling alley to find out if they will sell you worn balls.

There you have it, how to make mirrored gazing balls for the garden, on a budget!



60 Comments

  1. Cathy Bluthardt May 31, 2013 at 6:44 am

    I have been looking for a new way to use bowling balls as a gazing ball. Never thought about the mirrored spray paint. Guess what I will be doing this weekend? Thanks for such a clever idead.

    Reply
  2. Kathy Woodard May 31, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Let us know how it turns out Cathy!

    Reply
  3. Cindy June 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    My brother in law’s father was a bowling enthusiast and passed away last year leaving them with 75 bowling balls to sell at his garage sale. I think I’ll be paying him a visit this week!

    Reply
    1. Norma December 3, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Wow . . . sorry for your loss . . and I have never seen bowling balls at any garage sale . . . are you in western canada by any chance?

      Reply
  4. Tonya June 25, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Any ideas what else you could use besides bowling balls? Since you showed a variety of sizes. I can only find large bowling balls and small ones.

    Reply
    1. Mary Kay January 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      I bet you could use a big ball and some household glue. Glue the edge of pedestal place ball.

      Reply
  5. Kathy Woodard June 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I checked out the dollar store, and they have some hard plastic balls of different sizes… (Not the soft deflatable kind! Another idea? Watch yard sales for old bocce balls or croquet balls!

    Reply
    1. Jan December 22, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      Use the plastic bouncy balls at the dollar store as a mold ….fill it with a quick setting concrete make sure it cures before using….it says how long…depends on type. Then rip off the plastic ball and walla you have a concrete ball to use as you please. The only other thing I could think of was to fill the ball with Plaster of Paris cause it’s so fast to setup…?? Possibly leave the plastic ball in place to protect the plaster from weather. Just had my brain take off…..I have not tried either of these.

      Reply
  6. Penny July 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Just found this on Pinterest! What a great idea – I had no idea there was such a thing as mirrored spray paint. Definitely going to need to look for this.

    Reply
  7. Julia July 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    This is genius!!! I’ve had a couple glass gazing balls blow over in the wind and shatter. (Hubby said we’re not buying anymore!!) I am going to give this a try this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing the idea.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard July 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Great! Let us know how it goes!

      Reply
      1. Julia August 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm

        Hi Kathy

        Can you tell me what kind of gloss sealer you used? I have Rustoleum gloss clear sealant. However, it is making the chrome paint cloudy looking and not at all reflective. I must need a different product.

        Thanks
        Julia

        Reply
        1. Ruth Coatney May 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm

          I too, would like the name of the paint products that were used. I plan to make some of these for a decorative pond at our church. I like the idea of several sizes and colors. It’ll make something old look something WOW

          Reply
          1. Kathy Woodard June 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

            It is the chrome spray paint, not the looking glass as some have asked…

  8. Maryanne October 5, 2013 at 3:24 am

    My town must all be doing these bowling ball ideas. I have been to 4 different thrift stores for the balls and none available, or just sold.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard October 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Call your local bowling alley and see if they have any old ones that they would sell real cheap!

      Reply
  9. TerryAM July 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Thks for this great idea. Was looking at these today.to much!

    Reply
  10. Tina July 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Just threw away some old bowling balls of my hubby’s … Wish I wod hav read this earlier :( on the lookout for more!! Lol

    Reply
  11. zack Exactamente January 7, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Wow great idea I also going to try this tomorrow. Please post which sealer works. Now i have a great use for thise bowling boce and old pool balls.

    Reply
    1. vickie May 11, 2015 at 6:46 am

      anyone now what sealer to buy.

      Reply
  12. terrycadymt January 29, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I was planning on doing this come summer, and I was wondering if anyone has tried putting dowels in the ground to go in the finger holes as a sort of stand so you can paint the whole thing in one shot. The reason I need to make some is the bratty kids in the apt complex broke my previous two. I’m hoping to get it done while I know they’ll be out. I’m also wondering if anyone has any ideas about adding color.

    Reply
    1. Terri H May 3, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Terry,
      I would use REBAR from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Grind it to the length you need (about the same diameter of the ball or at least 3/4 of that length.) Glue it into the finger hole of choice with Gorilla glue (remember to spritz the hole with a light bit of water. It activates the glue) The glue will puff like mousse as it dries DON’T GET IT ON YOUR HANDS! You could also use PL adhesive (look in the caulk aisle) That will;l take longer to dry.

      Reply
    2. Sue August 23, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      PVC works great. Fill the holes with caulk then place the pre cut length of PVC in. If it is a real heavy ball you can use to pieces of PVC. PVC can be spray painted with your choice of color to match the ball or black to look like wrought iron.

      Reply
    3. Kathie Paque March 26, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      I have used a large nail in a stump— only way they were nocked off was by a couple of bear cubs

      Reply
  13. Pamela February 24, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you for this idea, it is amazing. I was trying to figure out a way to get more gazing balls to put in my garden. You are right. They are expensive. A lady in the comments using the plastic bouncy balls. I am going to try that as well as the bowling bowls . Will let you know how it turns out.

    Reply
    1. Kim April 14, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      How did it turn out?

      Reply
  14. lily March 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    nice idea I think it will be an addition to my windchimes

    Reply
  15. cindia May 29, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Has anyone actually tried making these yet? how did yours turn out? I had a gazing ball given to me made out of a bowling ball and broken pieces of mirror filled in with what looks like some kind of caulk. But I really like it.And I really like these. Any luck?, anyone?

    Reply
  16. metqa June 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Would be nice to see a picture of actual finished product. Do you have a photo of the outcome?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard June 9, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Unfortunately, that was one of our earliest projects, and we don’t! I know a lot of our readers have tried this project, anyone want to email us a photo of your finished one to upload to the post?

      Reply
  17. Jerry June 7, 2015 at 8:51 am

    the wood dowels would work, So you can spray paint the ball. why not try the dowels and the ball when you are done. And put them in the garden.

    Reply
  18. LB June 7, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    you can also use cut up old cd’s

    Reply
  19. Pam June 9, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I can’t find the paint. Has anyone tried a different type?

    Reply
    1. Liz June 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Hobby Lobby sells it

      Reply
  20. Sandi July 13, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Amazon.com carries the spray paint at $8.24 a can and if you are a Prime member – 2 day shipping is free.

    Reply
  21. Darren Wilson August 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    If your wanting one of the larger ones, use an inflatable exercise ball. We’ve used them to make pinatas. Ballons tend to egg shape but with sand paper and patience, round out. The pinatas made the exercise ball reusable b/c we used a newspaper mix then deflated the ball once dry. We needed a hole for the candy so it doubled for that as well.

    Reply
  22. Jan December 22, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Is there a difference between the Krylon paint that says Original Chrome & Mirrored?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard February 2, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Yes, the mirrored paint has to be used on a surface from the inside, like the back of a glass picture frame, or inside a vase… For a solid surface like a bowling ball, the high gloss chrome paint must be used…

      Reply
    2. CeeJay June 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      Yes, there’s a difference. Mirrored paint is formulated to be most shiny where the paint touches the surface (like a glass sheet) It is meant to be sprayed on the BACK of glass so you can observe the “mirror” on the opposite side of the glass.
      Chrome paint is formulated to be most shiny on the outside surface of your sprayed piece. This is how you observe most painted surfaces, from the top of the paint layer. Mirrored sprays are different because you actually see the UNDER side of the paint layer, through the glass.

      Reply
  23. Vera Richardson January 25, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Thank you for a fabulous idea. I have two bowling balls that I had no idea what to do with them.

    Reply
  24. Kim April 14, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    I love this idea! I can’t wait to go bowling ball hunting!

    Reply
  25. Wendy April 22, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Helpful hint. Laquer will haze if applied in humid conditions. Pick a day with low humidity .

    Reply
  26. Michael June 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I have either a question or a comment. In the original pin under the search it shows in the pic to use Looking Glass paint, but in the directions it shows to use Original Chrome. Just want to confirm which you used to get the mirror effect? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard June 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Use the original chrome…

      Reply
  27. Anna Herrick June 7, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    I have seen these mirred balls on ping pong balls. The crafty one put a long narrow stick in them and decorated her flowers with boquets of them. looked. Beautiful! Another idea!!

    Reply
  28. Mandi June 26, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Was there any base coat put down before the spray paint and if so what? Thank You.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 8, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      We didn’t but we used a paint with built in primer.

      Reply
  29. Patee July 2, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I glue flat marbles to bowling balls with waterproof window sealant or caulk.

    Reply
  30. christine August 2, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Is there an equivalent spray in UK please?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Anyone in the UK know?

      Reply
  31. CJ August 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Put ping pong balls on a long stick?….maybe use skewers?

    Reply
  32. Debi August 23, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Can you use any color bowling ball

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      I would think so!

      Reply
  33. ali September 6, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I have not bowling ball , what happen If I use football or basketball ball! or some other plastic ball?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      It will not give you that smooth glass look.

      Reply
  34. Sarah September 6, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    What clear gloss sealant did you use (brand and name)? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard September 7, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      I’ll have to go back and see if we still have it, I’ll update if I find it!

      Reply
  35. Sandra Cook September 11, 2016 at 5:18 am

    I just got a couple of bowling bowls from a swap meet in my town today for $10 each with a bowling bag lol, could have brought another one but heavy enough carrying 2. Don’t know if I will chrome them or try mosaic. I made cement balls yesterday by filling light globe shades. I found the light with 3 globes on the footpath…as well as a cast iron single bed I have no idea what to do with yet lol.

    Reply
  36. Shelly Jackson April 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I just tried the project using old globes that I bought at a thrift store for $1 each. I tried three different products. The Krylon Mirror Paint – Silver worked the best. However, the Rustoleum Metallic came in a close second. The issue I am having is with the glossy sealant. I used Krylon and it gave the globe a dull finish. Has anyone had any luck finding a good gloss sealant that works?

    Reply
  37. STEVE DALDINE April 29, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    CHECK ON CRAIGS LIST,LETIT GO ,OFFERUP .I FOUND GUY WITH USED BOWLING BALLSI GOT THEM 2.00 A PIECE I BOUGHT 12.6 FOR FLOWER BED IN FRONT 6 IN CUTTING GARDEN INMY BACK YARD.AS FAR SMALLER BALLS U CAN USE BOCCE BALL AND HARD BASEBALL TOO. THAR GIVE YOU 3 SIZES. I SPRAY PAINTED COFFEE CANS BLACK SO I BURY THEM AT DIFFERNT LEVELS GOOD LUCK LADYS.

    Reply

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