Garden Art Project – How To Paint Bowling Balls

Garden Art Or Junk Art …
Painted Bowling Balls Are Really
A Fun & Funky Look In the Garden

I recevied this email from Freddie who asked:

I found your website by accident and I love it. I love trying new garden art projects, especially junk garden art! I have tried to make garden spheres many times….some came out better than others….and this year I was lying in bed and it occurred to me to use bowling balls. Sheer Genius, right?

My boss brought me two from his last bowling night, one real beauty that I wouldn’t consider painting, but one I’ll paint. What do you suggest I use for paint?

Of course my husband thinks I’m nuts with bowling balls in our garden. Let me know about the paint. Thanks. Freddie

My reply:
Hi Freddie:
bowling ball garden art Thank you for contacting me and for the kind compliment about my site. I do try hard to offer great information. πŸ™‚

About painting bowling balls (yeah, I kinda love junk garden art, too!) – here’s my suggestions:

•  take sandpaper and scuff up the surface really good; this will help a primer coat and/or paint to adhere much better

•  prime it with something like “Kilz” (there is an exterior all-purpose version–you can find it at Lowe’s or Home-Depot as examples)

•  paint with latex or oil-based paints (I’ve been successful using both)

•  finish with at LEAST a couple of liberal clear top coats (matte, gloss or semi-gloss – whatever you prefer)

If you take care with all the steps, your painted bowling ball should last many years in the sun. But be warned, UV rays really take a toll on everything, and even the best paint job might start showing “age” in a few years. I am sure you understand this.

That is why taking extra time to “do it right” the first time will save you peeling paint before the year is finished.

Does this help? If not, please do not hesitate to contact me again. Have fun!!


Freddie wrote back to say:

Actually your instructions were what I was thinking about doing anyway, it just seemed too logical and easy.

I’m a big recycler, so reusing bowling balls just seemed a no brainer. My boss actually brought me two of them from his league night at bowling. I’m sure he must think I’ve lost it, but I wanted to make a couple for my sister and her gardens.

Can’t wait to get this funky bowling ball garden art project rolling. πŸ™‚

Thanks for the info … Freddie



  1. liz blodgett says:

    Does anyone have a template of some sorts for painting a lady bug or bumble bee on bowling balls? I have severals balls and want to use them in my gardens.

  2. Hi Liz:
    Gee, I have no clue on a source for templates, but have you tried searching online? Sometimes you have to get really specific to finally find what you’re looking for.

    I just now tried searching using these 2 different sets of words: garden bug stencils / stencils for bugs

    And there are online sources. So try using the word “stencils” in your search efforts and I think you’ll find something.

    I also know Wal-Mart and Michael’s craft store have stencils, but wherther they have bugs the size you want … that’s another story!

    Hope this helps you some. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  3. Saw this idea in one of the gardening magazines a few months ago, though I cannot remember which one. Check Birds & Blooms or Backyard Living magazine websites. The ladybug was fantastic looking!

    I also use just brightly colored bowling balls as is, though they do fade after a few years. When my glass glazing ball finally got destroyed after a big storm, I put a blue bowling ball on the stand – no problems so far.

  4. Paula Madden says:

    That is why taking extra time to β€œdo it right” the first time will save you peeling paint before the year is finished.

  5. Barbara says:

    I’m just getting started to paint a bowling ball; to make it look like a ladybug. Didn’t know where to start, but it was very helpful in seeing what paint to use.

  6. Stephani says:

    Hi, I saw a link to do ladybugs w/bowling bowls. it did not mention sanding the balls first, so I had already put 2 coats of primer on them and 2 coats of latex paint on them, there are 2 small areas that the paint has rolled off. Would it be better if I just started completely over with them or just sand over the spots and paint them over? also what did you use for the holes? I am using copperwire for the antenna’s and not sure what to use for the filler, birds n blooms was not very helpful with all this. thanks.

  7. Claudia says:

    Well, I’m not there to actually see how badly the paint is flaking off. Can you chip more paint away at the edges where it’s flaking with your fingernail? Or if you do try to scrape it with your fingernail, does the paint at the edges stay “put?” If it continues to flake off, then I’d say you’ll probably be better off redoing the whole ball. But if just those 2 spots of paint didn’t adhere well, then I’d say just sand those spots and do your touching up.

    I haven’t made ladybugs myself – I’ve only painted a bowling ball with a faux finish. I then placed the ball with the 3 holes down (touching the dirt). That way they weren’t visible. You could do the same. Just drill two small holes on the opposite “side” of the bowling ball where you want to stick in some wire to make the antennae. Or you could fill in the holes with some type of outdoor use filler-putty. Talk to the people at your local paint store. Then you could stick in your wires into the putty/filler before it dries.

    Good luck!

  8. Just got a ball can’t wait to try a ladybug love these ideas keep them coming

  9. We used silicone (caulking) to fill the drilled ‘finger’ holes. We used a belt sander to get rid of the logo that was very visible on the ball (even when painted). After it was sanded we spray painted it with silver paint and the effect looked like brushed stainless steel. We did this 3 years ago and it still looks like it did the day we made it. It does not stay outside in the winter, so not sure how this method holds up to harsh weather like we have here in mid Michigan.

  10. Hi Linda:

    Great information – thanks! this will be of interest to others, I am sure.

    One question: what kind (or brand) of silver paint did you use? Indoor, outdoor, “metal” look, the kind meant for use on appliances, etc.??

  11. I have made several projects from bowling balls. The best method I found is to use spray paint. Start with primer, Rustoleum works great. Then if you have a simple design, also use spray paint. Just tape off the areas, and it will work great. The paint stays on for literally years! My favorite pattern is a fishing bobber. Prime the entire ball. I support the ball on a dowel stuck in sand in a 5 gallon bucket. First, prime with white primer, it makes the colors richer, Then simply, find the center, tape simple craft paper to the half you want to protect, then you spray the first color. After it dries, reverse the tape and paper and paint the other half. Of course, your colors of choice are white and fire engine red. Top with a couple coats of high gloss and then, silicone caulk a 2″ pvc cap that is painted black on top. Don’t worry about filling the finger holes, just make sure they are the bottom when you are taping. I also drill two holes in the cap, and put a bent craft wire thru the holes, leaving it extended just a little and caulk it to make it stick, and that makes an authentic bobber for your pond or summer place on the lake or river! I have also used acrylic craft paint for others and it lasts very well.

  12. Cheryl – THANKS for sharing is great information!


  1. […] and Krista left comments on my blog post how to paint bowling balls about bowling balls painted to look like ladybugs. Krista said she saw a project in a magazine, but […]

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