Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mosaic Bowing Ball Reflecting Ball Tutorial

Several years ago, ok maybe like 10 years ago, a friend gave me a few bowling balls thinking I could use them for a project. I wanted to make a reflecting ball for my flower garden and finally after 3 kids and a move I was able to finish one!

Here are the materials you will need:
  • A bowling ball
  • Pieces of glass, mirror, tiles, etc. (I used Mosaic Mercantile Crafter's Cut from Dick Blick but you can use any precut pieces or cut them yourself.
  • Adhesive- I used a silicone adhesive I purchased at my local Walmart. I've also heard that E6000 works well
  • Foil- optional for filling in the holes of the bowling ball
  • Glass cutting tools- optional if you buy pre-cut pieces, though handy if you need to make one smaller
  • Something to cover your table with
  • Some type of ring to set your bowling ball on so it won't roll while working- I used an old roll of masking tape
  • Grout, as well as a container to mix the grout in and something to stir with
  • Sponge
  • Grout sealer and small paint brush
Adhesive, cutting tools, and glass tiles I used.
I sorted my glass pieces by color before I began. I also had a lot of mirror pieces which I cut off of a large mirror removed from the house my grandparents purchased. Since the mirror was free, mixing them in with the pre-cut glass majorly cut back on the cost.

Here are the Steps!
1. Wash and dry your bowling ball. I just got a tub of warm water and dish soap to put the bowling ball in and scrubbed it since it had been sitting outside. It dried in the sun quickly and I was able to start working. If your glass pieces are translucent, you may want to spray paint your bowling ball white before you start so that the colors show up. My pieces had a coating of color on the back so I didn't have to worry about that.
2. Decide on a rough concept for your reflecting ball. I wanted to do radial designs that would overlap and fill in the gaps. I think I want to do another one that is pretty random. It would have looked funny to change my style halfway through.
3. Set your bowling ball on a ring- I used a roll of masking tape- so that it won't roll as you are working.
4. I did not think of this in time, but you could wad up aluminum foil and stuff it in the holes of the bowling ball so that you can put glass right over it and not have to leave a gap. You could also use caulking or spray foam insulation to fill it in but you'd have to wipe off the excess.
5. Begin to glue pieces on the top and work out from there. Leave a small gap between the pieces- aim for 1/8-1/4 of an inch- and when the pieces start trying to slide because of the slope, wait a bit for the glue to set up before you rotate the ball and continue. I found that it didn't take a ton of glue, just a little blob is sufficient.
6. Continue to rotate the bowling ball, gluing pieces on the part that is facing up. For the pieces I cut myself, I found that triangles or slight trapezoids worked the best. You may have to trim some pieces to make them fit in the gaps when the different part of your design start to run together.

7. After you have covered the entire surface, make sure everything is dry and do one last check to make sure you don't have any gaps that are too big for your liking.
8. Mix up your grout- I used whatever I had on hand leftover from a tiling project. I mixed it in a tub until it was a yogurt like consistency and then began to apply to the bowling ball. I poured it on and used a scrap of pasteboard to spread it around, making sure it got down between the pieces. I had to rotate the bowling ball, pausing to make sure it set for a few minutes before I put that side down. As I moved the grout around to fill in the gaps, I made sure to spread around the excess.
9. Wait about 20 minutes and use a large, damp sponge to begin wiping off more excess grout and revealing your glass underneath. My mirror pieces were thicker than the glass I purchased so I made sure that the glass all got uncovered. When your sponge gets dirty, rinse and ring it out. I had to do that several times.

10. When the grout has dried completely, wipe down AGAIN with a clean, damp sponge. You may have to repeat this step again to make sure that all traces of grout are removed from the surface of your glass.
11. When the grout has completely dried, apply a grout sealer. I used a cheap watercolor brush to apply it between the pieces of glass, and when I got lazy, I poured it over the top and spread it out to speed things up. I was able to wipe away the film left on my glass.
12. Display your reflecting ball! I used a small metal stand. The light really catches the mirror pieces and I love the reflections.

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