This recycled craft project uses old golf balls to create adorable garden bugs or ‘buggies’ as my kids used to call them. It’s a project suitable for adults with some assistance from kids.
Most of my projects use second-hand materials. You can see more ideas here including garden art tutorials.
What Can You Make With Old Golf Balls?
I teach elementary school and we’ve just been given 700 old golf balls. Can you give me an Earth Day golf ball craft idea for the kids?
I can’t say I’ve ever felt inclined to make crafts from golf balls, but sometimes I just can’t resist a challenge. There are more fun recycled Earth Day craft projects here.
When I received this request, I immediately thought of the golf ball lady bug and ant by Craft Klatch that were popular on Pinterest last year.
I ended up making my own version of the ladybug, plus a frog, bird, and bumblebee. And, once I got started, I realized I could probably use up all 700 golf balls with all the ideas that kept coming to me. You could make anything: turtles, kangaroos, bunnies, flowers, mini garden gnomes…
I’ll show you how to make them and provide some tips for success. Kids who enjoy a painting craft will certainly enjoy this but be prepared for golf balls bouncing around the classroom!
If you want to make these golf ball garden buggies with kids, you will have to use your own judgement about what is safe and appropriate for them, depending on ages and abilities. Also, it’s always smart to make a craft first before teaching it to a group. Unless you enjoy public embarassment.
The basic steps are:
- Prepare the golf balls (wash, drill holes)
- Prepare wire for legs and antennae
- Drill holes and add wire pieces to golf balls (legs and antennae)
- Glue metal nuts and washers to golf balls (noses and eyes)
- Prime and paint everything
- TIP: If you’re doing this project with younger kids, you might want to do the assembly and priming ahead of time so the kids just paint them. Yes, they get all the fun!
Some product links go to my Amazon affiliate’s account, but I always suggest you try and find used materials or shop locally and find great deals!
- Golf balls (one per buggie, unless you’re making something like caterpilars or ants where you join several together)
- 20 gauge galvanized steel wire (for legs and antennae) [ See wire here at Amazon.com ]
- Metal nuts and washers (as in, the nuts that fit on bolts) for noses and eyes (for quantities see PARTS FOR EACH BUGGIE below)
The bird beak/bill is a metal screw.
- Primer and acrylic craft paints (you could use spray paints plus the craft paints for finer details like ladybug spots)
I used white wall primer (both for primer and for white paint) plus Martha Stewart craft paints (blue, green, yellow, red, black). [ See paints here at Amazon.com ]
- Paint brushes (larger one for painting body base colour, smaller ones for painting details) [ See brushes on Amazon.com ]
- Sharpie markers (for details like bumblebee stripes)
- Adhesive (Goop or E6000 or crazy glue) [ See Goop at Amazon.com ]
- Wire cutters
- Needle nose pliers (for shaping the wire) [ Needle nose pliers on Amazon.com ]
- Electric drill and 3/64 drill bit (this size hole worked perfectly with my 20 gauge wire) [ 3/64″ drill bit ]
- Safety glasses (when drilling and cutting/bending wires)
- Images of the bugs or critters you want to make
PARTS FOR EACH BUGGIE
- Frog: (4) 4″ wire legs, (2) 1/2″ metal washers for eyes; green paint, black Sharpie marker
- Ladybug: (6) 1.5″ legs and (2 ) 1″ antennae; (1) 1/2″ metal nut for nose; red and black paint, black Sharpie marker
- Bird: (2) 4″ wire legs and (1) 10″ wire tail; (1) 1/2″ metal screw for beak/bill; blue, yellow, white paint; black Sharpie marker
- Bumblebee: (6) 1.25″ legs and (2 ) 2″ antennae; (1) 1/2″ metal nut for nose; yellow and black paint, black Sharpie marker
- Decide which buggies you want to make and gather the materials.
- Wash and dry the golf balls
- Wear your safety glasses when doing any drilling or wire cutting and bending.
- Cut wire for legs, antennae, and bird tail. The wire lengths to cut are listed above (PARTS FOR EACH BUGGIE)
- Bend wires to shapes needed using needle-nose pliers. I’ve posted lots of images on this page so you can see things from various angles.
- TIP: Always bend two wires together so that the shapes will be the same for each pair of legs and antennae.
To get good curls, start with the tips of the wires in the pliers, and curve the wire around the pliers.
SAFETY TIP: If these buggies will be used by kids, curl all exposed wire ends so they are not sharp.
- Mark your locations for legs and antennae and drill the holes in the golf balls. I drilled mine approximately 3/4″ inch deep.
- BIRD: The bird’s tail is created with one 10″ piece of wire, shaped in a loop , and inserted into 2 holes at back of golf ball.
- TIP: Look at my buggies or images online to see where the legs and antennae are located on the various critters.
SAFETY TIP: Use a vice for holding the golf balls steady while drilling.
- Insert legs and antennae into drilled holes. If they don’t fit snugly, add a bit of adhesive to the wire end and then insert it in the hole.
- Attach nut (nose) and/or washers (eyes) and/or screw (bird beak/bill) with adhesive. Allow to dry.
- Prime everything and allow to dry. You could use a spray primer or hand paint it on.
- Apply the base colour. You’ll do the finishing paint details after the base colour has dried.
COLOURS FOR EACH BUGGIE
- Frog = green body and legs. After drying, you will use a black Sharpie to draw the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Bumblebee = yellow body with black legs and antennae. After drying, you will use a black Sharpie to fill in the black body stripes.
- Bird = blue body and tail, yellow legs. After drying, you will paint the beak yellow, and create eyes with white paint and the black Sharpie.
- Ladybug = red and black body, black legs and antennae. After drying, you will add black spots with paint or a Sharpie.
Here’s mine while the base coat paint is drying:
Finishing touches for each buggie
- Eyes: Fill in the center of the washer with black Sharpie.
- Nose: Draw two spots for the nose (see image for placement).
- Mouth: Frogs have wide, happy-looking mouths. Use a pencil first if you don’t have a steady hand. The mouth should go as wide as the outer edges of the eyes.
My suggestion is, if the creature doesn’t have recognizable features, don’t try to draw them. We don’t really see ladybug’s eyes, so no need to add them unless you want your buggie to look more like a cartoon character.
- Lower body: The lower section of the ladybug is painted black.
- Wings/back: Draw a line from the middle front to back to define the two wings (see image below).
- Spots: Use paint or Sharpie to create spots. Make them symmetrical on each wing.
I tested a bumblebee with eyes and one without, and I liked it without eyes better. You can choose for yours.
- Stripes: Start with a black circle (using paint or Sharpie) at the back of the bee.
Next, use the Sharpie to outline two more thick stripes, equal distance apart. Then fill them in with paint or Sharpie.
I tried various birds with and without wings and liked this simple version best. You could also add proper wings if you want (using plastic or balsa wood).
- Eyes: Paint two white circles and allow to dry. Add eye details (see image below) with black Sharpie.
- Beak/Bill: If you haven’t done so already, paint it yellow.
Now go buggie!