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How to Mosaic a Garden Ball

Silva has a technical background and is self-taught in the art of mixed media and mosaic. Her works are scattered all over the world.




Consider a styrofoam gazing ball instead of a bowling ball for your mosaic yard art.

Bowling balls are heavy and must be prepped a certain way, roughed up and covered with a thinset slurry, in order for the mosaic to last.

Perhaps a bowling ball is the best substrate if the gazing ball is to reside in a flower bed; because of the weight, it will not blow away in the wind.

A styrofoam ball is a wonderful alternative for indoors; lightweight and easy to handle, no holes to fill, and can be punctured with the posts of earrings and the backs of brooches and pins. A pole can be inserted through a styrofoam ball to stand it in the garden.

The mosaic gazing ball (pictured) began as a white crispy styrofoam ball from Michael's, a local craft store similar to Hobby Lobby. The ball is about 6 inches across. Watch for these at garage sales and thrift shops.

I used Weldbond glue (a white, water-based glue) that is suitable for indoor use only. Since making this, I have switched to MAC glue which is strong and dries fast. GE Silicone 2 Clear would work also. Both MAC and silicone are suitable for outdoor use as well.

The theme for this gazing ball is Spring. I chose the tesserae with the curvature of the substrate in mind. Think chipped bowls, cups, figurines, or any curved tesserae that doesn't work well in a flat mosaic such as a table top. These curved pieces are meant for gazing balls.

I used a chipped porcelain vase that featured a beautiful peacock on a white background. The vase was thin and curved, so pieces of it would not work well in a flat mosaic, but were perfect for this ball. I had other pieces of curved porcelain that featured floral designs. I nipped all the porcelain pieces with Lepponit wheeled nippers, and ground all the edges smooth with a carborundum stone.

I first wound a long gold-tone rope necklace in a spiral fashion all around the ball. There are many, many stud earrings on this ball that were missing their mate. They include pearls, crystals, glass beads, gold-tone spiral designs, diamonds or cubic zirconas and opals.

There are some tiny glass leaves and a few flattened marbles. There is a tiny tiny lizard that was in one of those candles that have various surprises embedded in them that was given to me by a close friend (the candle was burned many years ago, but I still think of my friend Cathy every time I look at this ball). There is a gold-tone locket. There's a little pink enamel gardening hat and a red enamel strawberry.

If you have stud earrings that still have the post attached, they are perfect for a project like this because you just put a spot of glue down and then poke the earring post into the styrofoam. Small brooches and pins with the back still attached also work well; just embed the pin backing into the styrofoam. Just imagine how well a broken round Japanese teapot would work, reincarnated as a gazing ball.

If a piece of tesserae is thicker than desired, just press it into the styrofoam to make a dent and partially embed it.

I found a nice, inexpensive but quite good quality, three-legged metal stand at a thrift shop.

Really, the possibilities are many. It was not necessary to seal the styrofoam first, and I used regular sanded grout. I sealed the ball well using a DuPont outdoor sealer.

I have some rectangular pieces of white styrofoam that were used as packing material for a computer and in the future, I plan to use them as the base for mosaic wall art.

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Do not use the green florist foam; use only the white crisp styrofoam.

Read about how to use broken costume jewelry in mosaic art:

A guide for beginners is here:

My next project involves a broken gazing ball given to me by a friend. It is hollow and made of thin iridescent glass. I plan to salvage it by breaking it into many pieces and gluing them onto a styrofoam ball.

Transform a styrofoam ball into a darling mosaic ball -- a pretty little conversation piece -- a fun easy way to use whimsical curved mosaic tesserae and to preserve a broken vase, broken vintage jewelry and lonely earrings that have lost their mate.

This project is perfect for preserving memories by using your mother's old jewelry or your grandmother's chipped tea set. It is your next step on your mosaic journey; going from flat pieces to 3 dimensional, and opens up new possibilities for those curved parts of a broken bowl or vase. You will never look at thrift shop treasures in quite the same way again.


Lisa Greenberg on December 28, 2016:

Love your hints and advise! How do you get the grout off the tiny gems and earring pieces? I have lots of that stuff but am hesitant to use them because of the cleaning up process...

I've thought of putting some oil on them before grouting to help keep the grout from sticking too much.... thoughts on that please!

Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on July 09, 2015:

That's so cool, Paula! Thanks for your comment and good luck!

Paula on July 09, 2015:

I love the way you approached this ball - non conform and beautiful. I am on my way to Michaels.... Thank you.

Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on September 08, 2011:

Nice of you to comment, Carla. Thanks so much.

Carla on September 08, 2011:

I enjoy looking at your beautiful mosaic art and your tips and advice is so informative. Thanks for sharing.

Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on June 25, 2011:

Thanks for visiting, patti. My granddaughters love this ball. I am ready to make another one.

patti on June 24, 2011:

Just gave me a great idea for my granddaughter to do this summer.



Silva Hayes (author) from Spicewood, Texas on January 03, 2011:

Thanks for reading and leaving your comment, Ilona. Yes, haha, I know all about that fear. I often hesitate to try something and then I laugh when I find out how there was nothing to fear after all. I kept some Wediboard for over a year before I got the courage to cut it.

Ilona Levesque on January 03, 2011:

Very interesting and very informative, did I mention beautiful....I no longer fear the styrofoam ball I had purchased over a year ago..Thank you.

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