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

 

 

Expectations For Your Garden Gazing Balls

First off, don’t expect these diy gazing balls to have the same super mirrored look as the ones that you might buy from a store. It just isn’t possible with spray paint in a can. But they still can look pretty cool and you can’t beat the price. We’ll list some mirrored gazing balls for sale from Amazon at the bottom of the post and you will see that three nice sized balls could run you about $100 to $130. Compare that to our DIY gazing balls which should cost you only $20 to $30 for a set of three!

 

What You’ll Need

  • Used old bowling ball  – Find them at Goodwill, thrift stores or yard sales. You should be able to find a ball for around $5. Try to find them with the finger holes close together so that they can be hidden easier.
  • Krylon all-in-one gloss black spray paint (optional). We’ve heard (but have not confirmed) that the gloss black under the chrome paint helps with the mirror effect. Also you would be using this as a primer at the same time.
  • Krylon premium metallic original chrome spray paint. We’ve heard good things about Rustoleum metallic chrome spray paint as well.  Note: Do not use the Krylon looking glass paint or any mirror paint, which is meant to be used ‘inside’ a glass object, not on the outside surface of objects.
  • Paper or plastic bowl to keep the bowling ball in place while painting.
  • Note: For different ball sizes, try old bocce balls, croquet balls or even billiard balls

 

How to Make A Gazing Ball

  • Clean the bowling balls well. You might want to use rubbing alcohol. Allow to dry completely.
  • Set up your painting area and place the bowling ball on the paper or plastic bowl to keep it in place.
  • If you choose to do the gloss black, do a couple coats and you should probably let dry over night.
  • Then spray paint the bowling ball with the chrome paint with several super light coats. How many is up to you depending on your desired results. Let dry one hour between coats.
  • Turn ball over (You might want to let dry over night before turning over) and do the bottom of the ball that you could not do before, following the same steps as above.
  • Allow the paint to dry completely over night before placing them anywhere.
  • We do not recommend using a sealant or clear coat. It most likely will react with the chrome paint and dull the finish!

 

Where To Use

Be creative with your garden gazing balls. Display them in groups or singly on an old pedestal as in this photo from Flower Garden Girl.

mirrored gazing ball

 

This is the original photo that inspired this project. Note: These are obviously store bought gazing balls. But this is the feel that we are going for. Nestle them in groups or in singles in amongst the garden!

mirrored gazing balls garden

 

Love how this old vintage gazing ball looks placed in a shallow part of this water garden. Photo from Eclecticpelican Etsy shop.

 

And lastly, from HGTV, a garden ball on a pedestal, tucked in amongst a vegetable garden with tomatoes growing around it. Love!

 

Where To Find Gazing Balls for Sale

If you just don’t have time for this DIY gazing ball project and would like to know where to find gazing balls for sale, then here are some links of a few different sizes from Amazon, with some really good reviews!

 

There you have it, how to make mirrored gazing balls for the garden, on a budget! You might be interested in our post DIY Garden Trinkets & Yard Decorations or  DIY Garden Ideas with Rocks.

This post has been updated.

 

 


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78 Comments

  1. Sue January 21, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    I’m confused because it says the paint is for indoor use only. what happens outside to the finish? I just got 9 bowling balls at Goodwill for $20.00! Yay, a winter project. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Bates January 24, 2021 at 11:41 am

      Boy what a great find on the bowling balls! Well, the problem is, normally you would use a clear sealer on top, but that seems to create problems effecting the chrome paint – dulling it etc. So you may see some fading over time and so you might have to refresh it with a new coat of paint from time to time!

      Reply
  2. Robyn September 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    How do you remove spray paint from the bowling ball to get rid of places where the paint dripped?

    Reply
  3. Steve July 11, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    I own a couple of gazing balls. While they are still shiny silver, the sun has deteriorated the color that was initially sprayed over the silver. It was a clear coat of red, blue, or purple (for lack of the correct word I will use glaze). Does anyone know where to buy this coloring glaze?

    Reply
  4. Julie January 19, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    I tried this, and mine didn’t shine like mirror, Could I try again over top.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Bates May 3, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Julie!
      From the post…” First off, don’t expect these diy gazing balls to have the same super mirrored look as the ones that you might buy from a store. It just isn’t possible with spray paint in a can. But they still can look pretty cool and you can’t beat the price.”

      Reply
  5. Donna January 14, 2018 at 6:40 am

    I have a number of bowling balls, that have been in my garden for a number of years. The weighted balls, for throwing hooks, have developed large cracks over time. The regular “straight” balls did not develop cracks.

    Reply
  6. elaine January 8, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    I’ve been calling around second-hand stores, bowling alleys, bowling shops in my town and even online and have come up with zip. I have made these inquiries on and off in the last few months and always come up empty-handed. I had no idea it would be so difficult. Anybody have any other suggestions as to other sources of old bowling bowls?

    Reply
    1. ME May 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      I got several at Salvation Army. Try
      Savers, or junk stores, or second hand stores. Good luck!

      Reply
    2. ME May 6, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      Found some at the Salvarion Army, Savers. Try junk stores or thrift stores. Good luck.

      Reply
    3. Carrir September 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Our goodwill sends bowling balls to their outlet location. Call up your local goodwill and ask. I picked a few up fo $3 each.

      Reply
    4. Janet September 23, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      garage sales I see them alot

      Reply
    5. Chris Delaney November 6, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Find someone who IS a bowler. If they don’t have any old balls, trust me they know someone who does. I put out the word when I did a project and ended up with 8 or 9.

      Reply
    6. ruthy October 30, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Hi, there are no bowling places where I live, so I think I’m going to make some concrete balls instead. Very cheap, nunbreakable. I think about using a plastic bowl – half and half, or maybe fill a baloon. After all it does not have to be perfectly round, does it? Lets try.

      Reply
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
    1. kate July 10, 2020 at 11:37 pm

      I would love to see your projects Sandra

      Reply
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. CJ August 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm

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

    Reply
  14. 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
  15. Patee July 2, 2016 at 8:10 am

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

    Reply
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. Kim April 14, 2016 at 11:46 pm

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

    Reply
  21. 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
  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. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
    2. Sandra January 10, 2019 at 6:33 pm

      Walmart has silver chrome and gold chrome spray paint

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

    you can also use cut up old cd’s

    Reply
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
    1. Kathy December 30, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      I have done multiple and love them! In the south, there is the possibility because of the high temps, that the balls may actually split. It’s ok by me, morecharacter! I’ll just paint again!

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

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

    Reply
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. TerryAM July 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm

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

    Reply
  36. 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
  37. 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…

  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 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
  42. Kathy Woodard May 31, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Let us know how it turns out Cathy!

    Reply
  43. 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

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