Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Making the Gazing Balls (Disco Balls!) from Bowling Balls

From In the Garden
As promised in last week's garden resolution post I am determined to finish projects before starting new ones. One such project I recently finished (it was started-oh-about three years ago) is 'The Gazing Ball' project. Here is my wonderful display of my gazing balls in my new Non-Pool Garden. I arranged the two balls that I made (instructions follow); which are the black ball with auto safety glass and the gray ball with mirror pieces and added in the third ball (metal). I was excited to find a great way to display the balls in the garden. I used the chimney flue pieces (red tubes holding two of the balls) and the clay piece of a pipe I had salvaged (brown tall tube holding the stainless ball) as mounts. These pipes had been hanging around the garden for several years and it came to me that they'd be fantastic to use as stands for my gazing balls.


Now let's follow along so you too can make your own gazing balls.


From In the Garden



As regular readers know I have a lot of bowling balls in my garden and have posted about projects with them in the past. In fact, one of my very earliest posts on this blog still brings in a lot of traffic due to the bowling ball 'gazing balls' my good friend Geri made. Today's post is about my take on the gazing balls made from bowling balls.


Steps to making the balls:


Materials you will need if you wish to make your own are: a bowling ball, caulk, sanded grout, E-6000 glue, glass gems, broken glassware (I used a very thick mirror I broke into pieces as well as auto safety glass that was already broken) or crockware, or tiles, pebbles, (what you glue to the ball is limited only by your imagination!).


1. Fill the finger and thumb holes with caulk. Allow to dry and fill again if the caulk shrinks. Be sure it is completely dried prior to grouting the ball. Gluing is fine though if the caulk is not yet dried. 


2. Break your material into workable sizes: The first construction picture shows my broken mirror for my 'disco ball'. Here is the thing I did not expect that can cause major issues. Even though I placed the mirror in a double paper bag and hammered it evenly the mirror had more of a tendency to break into slivers and shards rather than into nice and convenient sized pieces I could easily glue onto the ball. I therefore used a screen to screen out the slivers and tried to break the mirror a little more evenly by breaking only specific pieces. This was not an easy task. If you have access to a glass cutter I would suggest using that instead of using a hammer to cut glass if you plan to make a glass ball. One more tip of note, however much you think you'll need to cover the ball-double it. Those bowling balls are actually quite big!
From In the Garden
3. Glue pieces onto the balls using the E-6000 glue. I have found this glue to be a perfect glue for outside projects. It dries clear and while it is messy to work with and has a strong smell (be sure to use only in a well ventilated house or garage or even outside) it holds the pieces very well in all weather. It took me a few days to glue all of the pieces onto both balls. I found applying the glue directly to the ball then placing my pieces on the ball made things go faster. I did not apply the glue to each individual piece. Work on small sections so the glue will not dry before you can set your pieces. Wait at least 24 hours before going on to the next step.
From In the Garden
4. Grout the ball. I used two different colored grouts (one gray and one black), but both colors were sanded grout. A large 20 pound bag costs about $15 at your local big box store. Grouting is messy work so I recommend you do this job outside. I used paper bags for cushioning but sat the ball on tin foil hoping the foil would not pull the grout out from between the cracks. Paper bags have a tendency to wick moisture away from the grout and will pull the grout out. I grouted both of my balls all at once. Wear disposable gloves to protect your hands. I allowed the grout to dry for a few hours before gently wiping it off from the glass. Be careful not to wipe too much grout off from the ball because it helps to support the glass you have glued onto the ball.


5. The last step I do to my balls and other grouted material I put in my garden (including my glass mosaics) is to coat the entire ball with a good grout sealer. In the case of the balls I used a high gloss sealer (it is the yellow bottle visible in the above picture). The high gloss gives the balls a finished look and brings out the best of the grout.


6. Now place in the garden!
From In the Garden
Now for my additional 'disco' ball. This is an old gazing ball I've had for a few years. I desired to bring it closer to the house so I could enjoy it from inside the house during these dreary winter days. I placed the ball on a stand on my porch right outside of my living room window where I can easily view it. This ball is sheltered on the porch from all elements-except the sun. And what does the sun do to this ball?
From In the Garden
The sun reflecting off from the glass creates a wild effect inside of the house on the ceiling that brings me so much pleasure. I can only liken the effect to that of disco balls in the 70s. Can you imagine the whole ceiling with these 'stars' on it? Delightful indeed....

in the garden....

32 comments:

  1. wow these are gorgeous!! I have one gazing ball and sadly no bowling balls..you make me want some more gazing balls in my garden....I tried mosaic ne time and it wasn't a pretty sight...

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  2. Tina,

    These are awesome! I'm very impressed with this project!

    Lets see I have scrap mirrors and left over grout. Now to find some bowling balls.

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  3. WOW! What a fantastic project, tina! So fascinated by your beautiful balls that I was looking at them again and again. At first, I thought that the last photo was UFOs! How wonderful the wild effect on the ceiling created by light reflection!
    Looking forward to your new project!

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  4. Your teaching method is the best, Tina. You always provide lessons learned to prevent mistakes. That disco ball is really cool! So do the disco albums get dusted off and played when the sun comes out?

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  5. I keep intending to make a couple of those with the balls my dad had, but I have yet to get to it. I LOVE the look of those. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Very cool Tina, clever way to display them too. Like the red clay chimney liners.

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  7. Very neat! I think you were having a ball with this project. Sorry bad pun!

    You could do that with all kinds of recycled glass bottles too.

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  8. Donna, Mosaic is actually pretty hard to do in my humble opinion but keep trying! This project was more time consuming than skill.

    Randy, It's most easy and fun to do! I think they'll last a lifetime so get to work and let us see yours!

    Sapphire, That was my thought exactly on the lights on my ceiling! lol I love them but I can be a bit quirky at times.

    Carla, Thanks!

    W2W, I feel a sudden urge to watch Saturday Night Fever now....yes indeed!

    Cindy, Get to it! Don't wait years like me. You'll be so happy once they are done.

    Janet, I was so relieved to find a good use for those. I tell you I keep stuff for years then all of a sudden it comes to me a real good use. Thank goodness!

    Dave, A ball indeed-glad it is done though! Funny you mention the glass bottles-these are displayed right across the path from my bottle farm. They all look good in the big picture.

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  9. Hi Tina,

    Wow! You impressed me with your concrete casting of leaves and now this! You are so creative and add such personal touches to your garden, fun stuff!

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  10. These are bowling balls I think the Saint would allow in my garden! They are awesome girl and I just love them. I love Disco balls and even bring one out on Karaoke Nights in our living room! Yes, I am the proud owner of a lighted Disco Ball. hee hee. I am so in awe of your beautiful balls girl. Let’s hope that BJ does not decide to play with them....

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  11. These are just great! I got my hands on a couple of brilliant blue bowling balls last summer, and I might just try this with one of them. At the moment they're buried under the snow somewhere...

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  12. You always come up with such awesome things to make, great job with the bowling balls. Kudos to you also for recycling used materials.

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  13. Rosey, Hubby says our house has 'character' and that is all owing to personal touches. You gotta make your home yours and that is a good thing. So glad you like my personal touches.

    Skeeter, That is great! We can get together and do a workshop when you are in town if you have time. If not it would be a great project for you sometime!

    Jodi, Sounds like you are off to a good start by having the bowling balls. Bowling balls are great accents in the garden. I warn you though-they do fade if in the sun; which is something I don't like about them. They make great gazing balls though.

    Mom, Oh yes, you know recycling is a big big deal here. I'm thinking about doing a post on all the recycling I do because I just came up with an innovative way to use an old wheelbarrow-sans wheels. I like to recycle for sure. Wish more folks did it down here. Glad you like the gazing balls!

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  14. What a great idea! I think anyone who has had to pick up shards of glass from their shattered gazing ball will be thrilled at the idea of such an indestructible one!

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  15. I love them and they are pretty easy and fun projects...gail

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  16. I love how you turn junk into art. Very original! You could write a garden craft book.

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  17. Tina, this is so very clever and incorporates two of my favorite things: garden art and recycling. Great job. I still think it's a shame that I can't pick your posts on Blotanical. Carolyn

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  18. Eliza, Been there done that. So heartbreaking to have one break. I think these will last a while. I hope so!

    Gail, Yes indeed! A nice addition to the garden for all and fun to boot!

    Sarah, That's me-take nothing and make something of it. Crafty is a good thing:)

    Carolyn, I'm sure Stuart will get it all worked out sooner or later. Just glad you like the post! Recycling and garden art are two of my favorite things too!

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  19. Ok, maybe it's time I drag mine out to work on. Nice work!

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  20. I'm sitting here thinking, "Drat! Why did I put that old bowling ball on the garage sale a few years ago?" But you have given me an idea for some stands for garden objects I want to use--I'm sure we still have some clay tiles sitting around somewhere.

    These are lovely, Tina, and so unique. And the effect on your ceiling--I can see you humming "Stayin' Alive" every night:)

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  21. Hi Tina, nice to be visiting with old friends again.

    I've wanted to make one of these for a long while. Seems bowling balls are getting scarce, couldn't find one in several searches of thrift shops. I'll keep looking and keep your instructions. Sooner or later I'll find one.

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  22. Hey Tina it's soooooo good to be back. First it was me then it was my computer. Can't wait to see what happens next!
    WoW! Love the bowling balls you did. Hopefully I can get my hands on some as Bob is a bowler and maybe he knows someone throwing some away. My dear hubby took his and gave them to the bowling alley AFTER I had mentioned wanting some. Guess he had a senior moment. Big one! Made for uncomfortable times with wife!!! LOL

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  23. What a great idea and they look so good too. I love your idea for the stands too, I'll have to keep that in mind.

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  24. I taught myself to do mosaics last summer, and had fun making various flower pots. Then I tried a picture frame and a birdhouse. I'm ready to branch out into other projects, so I like the idea of doing a mosaic bowling ball. But the mirror scares me! I'll stick with tiles. I have purchased pretty plates on clearance, and broke them up into bits. You didn't make the rainbow ball, did you?

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  25. I'm impressed with your work Tina. What a cool piece. If this doesn't inspire us to get going on a project nothing will.

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  26. Wow, it must be that we are people of great minds thinking alike. I just posted about gazing balls on my Blog earlier this week. Enjoyed yours, you might like to check out what I did. Can not believe are minds were in the same place at the same time. Great. Jack

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  27. What a fun project. With many of us snowbound, it is a great time to get going on projects for next spring.

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  28. they look great! and so nice that your resolutions are already coming along

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  29. Great job Tina -you always come up with the coolest ideas:) I'm with whoever else said you should write a book on crafty recycle projects -you are amazing!!!! Ciao!

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  30. Thanks everyone. So nice hearing from you all!

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