Easy Way to Make a Classic Garden Globe Decoration
Decorative garden balls (also called ‘garden spheres’ or ‘glass garden globes’) are an inexpensive alternative to the classic gazing ball. Plus, it’s a great way to recycle some old household items and turn them into garden art.
If you’d like some ideas, I have a gallery of garden art balls here.
Using a bowling ball or thick glass lamp globe (that’s what I use), some decorations, and adhesive (you have to use the right one -see Materials list), you can make a glass garden sphere for approximately $5-20. I’ve provided free instructions below.
Design options include attaching glass gems (flat marbles), pennies, old costume jewelry, and/or paint or decoupage with Mod Podge. Really, you can cover the base sphere in just about anything with a flat side that adheres nicely and can withstand the weather.
This special garden art ball (above) by artist Karen Weigert Enos use a method that requires a lot of time and patience. In addition to flat-bottom marbles, you will need matching ‘mini bits’ sold at stores like A.C.Moore. Each mini bit is placed by hand in the area between the marbles.
The instructions below show how to attach the flat-bottom marbles.
Basic Steps for Applying Flat-bottom Marbles
1. Start with clean, dry lamp globe or bowling ball. If you’re just using flat-marbles, some parts of the globe will show when you’re done. If you want a different base colour, first spray the globe with a good all-purpose spray paint. I like ones made for exterior work, contain primer or do not require primer, and adhere to different surface types. Krylon brand works nicely and comes in many colours.
If you’re using a bowling ball, sand the surface first, spray paint it (if you want a different colour), and then apply your decorative marbles.
2. Apply the flat marbles using a generous amount of GE Silicone II sealant. Make sure you pick the one that is waterproof, clear, and made for outdoors – either for Gutters and flashing or Windows and doors. This is the only brand I’ve tried that works. See the instructions below for tips on getting the marbles to stay in place.
3. Allow proper drying time according to the product label.
Garden Art Ball Materials
- Lamp globe. I look for globes that have strong, thick glass. Some also use old sports balls such as a soccer or football ball but I have not tried this myself.
- OR Bowling ball. If you do use a bowling ball, sand off the glossy surface before you start for better adhesion.
- Flat-bottom marbles or coins, round glass flat stones or decorative accent glass, beads, necklaces, aquarium stones…. Quantity will depend on the size of your ball or globe. Leftovers can always be used for other projects.
- Outdoor silicone sealant/adhesive. I use clear (not white or any other colour) GE Silicone II and it must be waterproof and made for outdoor use. GE Silicone II sealant is sold as a sealant but works as an adhesive when you apply it fairly thickly, allowing it to grab the flat marbles as it sets. Do not substitute with other sealant products – GE Silicone II is the only one I’ve tested that works. Check the ‘USE BY’ date on the tube to make sure you’re getting fresh product.
- Caulking gun (if you’re using a tube cartridge). Don’t worry: they’re inexpensive and they’re not guns. They simply dispense the silicone sealant. Phew.
Garden Ball Design Ideas
There are so many possibilities!
One colour * many colours * create patterns * design simple flowers and fill in around them * polka dots * stripes of colour * form patterns with costume jewelry necklaces *
Garden Ball Instructions and Tips
Read all of the steps before you start.
Assemble your materials – glass globe, flat marbles, and GE Silicone II. Read the product label to understand health and safety considerations, clean up, and drying times.
Make sure you are using the correct product. Other sealants I’ve tested do not work the same way.
Use a bowl to hold the glass globe in place while you’re applying the silicone sealant. Work in sections. You want the sealant at least 1/4″ thick.
I apply the first row of flat marbles with the globe upside-down (see photo, above). Press each marble snugly into the silicone and let the silicone ooze out around it. This will hold the marbles in place as the silicone dries.
After applying the first row, beginners should turn the globe over and work from the bottom up so that each new row of marbles rests on the row below. If you’ve applied at least a 1/4″ of silicone, and let the marbles touch each other, they should stay firmly in place.
Refer to the product label for proper drying time. You may wish to work in sections, allowing one area to dry before working on the next one.
When the silicone has dried for the recommended amount of time, your globe is ready to be displayed outdoors.
I used an old glass lamp as the base for this garden art ball.
Garden Ball Supply Sources
While money can buy anything, if you prefer to keep yours under your mattress where it belongs, look for free or inexpensive supplies. Not only will you save money, but you’ll probably find something cool and unexpected that will make your creation pop. Debt-free living is the Way of The Empress.
- Lamp globes: Habitat For Humanity ReStores, thrift shops, yards sales, and garbage day are good places to check for lamp globes and all sorts of other glass, wood, and metal items suitable for garden art.
- Flat-bottom marbles: dollar stores, craft supply shops, department stores. If you want unusual colors or large quantities, search for bulk sellers online.
The best garden art projects (with complete instructions) from this site are now available in my new eBook:
“Pink Ice” by Karen Weigert Enos