This weekend I turned an old bowling ball that I found at a garage sale into a gazing ball-like piece of yard art.
A penny bowling ball!
I bought this bowling ball, bag and pair of old used bowling shoes (yuck) at a church garage sale all for just $1.00. I knew I only wanted the bowling ball itself, so the other items were just along for the ride.
How To Make A Penny Bowling Ball
The first thing I did was fill in the finger holes with paper towels until there was about ¼" of the holes left and then filled the rest of the holes in with some caulking I had laying around the house.
And then threw the bag and shoes into my Goodwill pile.
I wanted to cover the ball in pennies so I used roughly $4.50 worth.
I wanted them to be all bright and shiny so I decided to clean them with my beloved Coke Zero to see if Coke's cleaning abilities are an urban legend or not.
So I emptied a roll of pennies into a bowl and added the Coke Zero and let them sit for five minutes.
The Coke Zero cleaned them a little bit, but they were definitely not as bright as I was expecting them to be. It's not often that my Coke lets me down.
So then I searched the Internet for other penny cleaning tips and ran across some science experiments for kids that uses ¼ cup white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of table salt to clean them.
The vinegar is 5% acetic acid and dissolves the copper oxide on the pennies. The salt acts as a catalyst to speed up the process. But enough of the fascinating science lesson of the day.
Anyhow, I just put the pennies in there for about a minute, rinsed the solution off them and they came out amazingly shiny.
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Next I used Dap Clear Silicone Sealant for Doors And Windows to glue the pennies onto the bowling ball.
I glued them all heads up, but that was my OCD kicking in - you could mix it up if you wanted. Or maybe do all heads except for one tail???
And here is the finished project.
I tried sitting my penny bowling ball on my birdbath base as a regular gazing ball.
Then I remembered that I had bought this silver chafing dish pedestal at a garage sale. It's almost like it is made to be a penny bowling ball holder.
Of course you could place it directly on the ground or leave one of the finger holes exposed and place a wood dowel to stake it in the ground.
Another fun bowling ball project is my Mosaic Bowling Ball made with dollar store gems.
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I came across a bowling ball at an Antique/Junk store. Got it for $1.00. It has a crack down the side but I figured I can fill that in. Now I have a project to work on during the winter. Like the idea about using grout also. Eleanor, Copake, NY
My local bowling alley was happy to give me as many bowling balls I wanted for free! They have hundreds of old balls that they dispose of on a regular basis.
May I ask, how do you keep the pennies from tarnishing? Is there some sort of sealer you use?
You could spray it with a clear sealer from the hardware store if you wanted to keep them shiny for a long time. I'd look for one that says it's for outdoor use (Krylon makes one called Make It Last that says it is for outdoor use, but I've never tried it myself). Without a sealer they'll last about a year before you'll either have to re-clean them (just apply the cleaning mixture with a toothbrush) or just embrace the tarnished look.
I now have my gazing ball all ready to go into the yard but want to keep the shine on the pennies.. What would you recommend to spray on the whole ball to keep that shiny look?
Thank for the inspiration!!
I did not put a sealer on mine, but if you want it to stay shiny you would want to spray it with a clear sealer made for outdoor use. Krylon has one called Make It Last that sounds like it would work well although I haven't used it on anything myself. If you Google "Krylon Make It Last" you can read about it and see where it's sold. I would say any clear sealer would work as long as it specifically says it is made for outdoor conditions 🙂
I'M JUST TRYING TO FIN OUT HOW MANY PENNIES IT TAKES COVER A BOWLING BALL???
About 5 bucks
Nice project. I like the concrete piece beside it too. Did you make that?
I did not, but actually it doesn't look like it would be too hard to make. It reminds me of one of those old mile markers 🙂
I made a penny ball last summer. It is no longer shiny copper but a dull, greenish color. I'm curious if you clean your ball each season to make it shiny again, and if so, what do you use? I've even contemplated spray painting it a copper color.
I'm not sure the copper color spray paint would not flake off, since it is paint over metal??? But, yes your ball will tarnish again eventually unless you clean it yearly (I cleaned it with the salt/vinegar solution and rubbed it on with a toothbrush) or put a sealer on it. Something like a spray clear coat from the hardware store would probably keep them from tarnishing if you want to keep the shiny penny look. I'm just not sure the copper paint would hold up 🙁
Beautiful! I'm wondering, how long does that glue " Dap Clear Silicone Sealant for Doors And Windows" last for all seasons outdoors?
The idea is very good. I purchased 5.00 worth of pennies and soaked them in small batches in vinegar and salt mix and did it again the next day and later that day soaked uIn ketchup but found out that they cleaned up partially and not good enough to use on the gazing ball. I am going to use stones instead.
Cool idea, I'm so curious to hear how it sounds when rolls, haha. I've seen a floor made of pennies, and now a bowling ball. What else could be covered in pennies and look cool? Hmm
What kind of glu did you use ? Imade one with the round glass pieces used hot glue and they fell off. Thanks in advance
Hi Pam, I love this! I am in Oregon and plan to make for my mom and MIL for Mother's day.
I have read through the comments and didn't see this addressed.......... Did you or, looking back, would you sand the bowling ball with coarse sand paper? It appears your pennies haven't had much trouble staying on with the Dap but I wonder if as added security you would recommend.
Thank you in advance and thanks for sharing this super cool project!
You definitely could sand it a bit to rough it up a little. It never hurts to have extra "tooth" for the glue to hold onto (I actually did that when I made my second bowling ball where I glued little stones on to a bowling ball - https://www.houseofhawthornes.com/bowling-ball-yard-art-number-2/). Hope the moms enjoy them!
Hi I am from Canada and we no longer use pennies as currency and we have a pile of them sitting around so this is a very cool thing to do you them. Good-bye SLUGS. I am also wondering uf it is better to sand the bowling ball first.
You could definitely sand it a bit first. My bowling ball was sort of beat up, but if the ball is still smooth (and slick looking), that would be a good way for the glue to have some extra grip.
Have you tried it with pennies? It looks great but my OCD wants the spaces filled. Or, could it be filled with seed beads , very course sand...very small rocks. Broked glass...for a twist...something on that order. Just thinking out loud.. thanks..
I haven't on a penny one, but I made one with mosaic one with little glass "stones" and used grout on that one!
I also made the penny ball but all my faces go the same direction
I made the same Penney ball except all my faces go the same direction
I have read on other sites that the pennies fall off. Have yours fallen off with the type of glue you used? Also did you spray it with an acrylic spray once you were done gluing all the pennies? I have just started mine and I would appreciate the answers to these 2 questions.
I was lucky with the bowling ball. I called a local bowling alley to see if they had any they could spare and they did. I was so happy.
I am also lucky to have a gemstone tumbler so the pennies turned out really shiny.
I like the gemstone tumbler idea!!! I've only had one fall off right by the finger hole, but I do bring mine inside in the dead of winter when the snow starts flying. As for spraying with a sealer, I did not. Without sealer it should last about a year before you'd either want to re-clean them (I just used a toothbrush to brush on some of the cleaning solution) or you can embrace the tarnished look 🙂 Whatever sealer you use, make sure it's OK for outdoor use. I know Krylon makes one called Make It Last that specifically states it's for outdoor use.
I have round globe light shades I’m gonna try it on one of those.. And will also glue them to the bottom edges of my planter boxes this spring.
My daughter and I will be doing this project today. I've been saving pennies for awhile and I've finally got enough. I did a couple coats of acrylic copper paint on the ball beforehand. Next up, doing the looking glass mirrored spray paint on the other bowling ball we have.
Hi Pam - neat project.
I am curious why you chose to use the DAP Silicone Sealant? And how did you apply it - in strips or sections on the ball? a dot on each penny?
That was the sealant I used at that time (that project is a few years old). It worked very well and was the best available at the time, but I've recently switched to the GE Advanced Silicone 2 for Windows & Doors. It's a more updated product that dries quicker and is a little better in rainy situations (outdoor projects).
And I put it on as a dot on each individual penny. Either one is fine, but the GE products seem to get upgraded more often.