Bowling balls can be used in many projects, particularly garden art and household decorations.
After a while, a bowling ball starts to look a little rough around the edges, and the performance level usually dulls with the shine. When it is time to buy a new one, many bowlers find themselves unsure of what to do with the old one.
Most of the time, the old bowling ball spends the rest of its days in a dusty box in some forgotten corner in the garage- an undignified end by any means.
Just because the bowling is used up doesn’t mean it is now useless. The era of lockdown life turned so many of us to crafts, home projects, and DIY.
A wave of upcycling posts to pin to your Pinterest page had everyone testing to see how great their craft abilities really were, and bowling balls were not immune to the hype.
Do Bowling Balls Expire?
Before diving into some of the fun ways you can turn an old bowling ball into an art project, you may be questioning if it is really time to let go of your trusty friend.
Let us start by saying that a bowling ball is only truly broken if it is cracked completely in half. Sure, used balls may not throw as well, the hook potential can subside, and they may be no good for competitive games anymore, but there is still life in it yet.
Professional cleaning can keep your bowling balls knocking down practice pins for years to come.
Where the issue lies is if this beautiful ball gets left in a bag doing no good for nobody. If you don’t think you are going to use it again, it’s time to find a new path.
Upcycling Ideas for Old Bowling Balls
The toughest part of starting a new crafts project deciding what you would like to create. You have the base of your idea (the bowling ball), and now you need to look for something to do with it.
Take one look online, and you can see page after page of great ideas and projects. Search in the comments for instructions and links to the page or pin of the person who made it.
Here are some of our favorite fun bowling ball repurposing project ideas.
Make a Gazing Ball
Having a gazing ball in your garden is one of the favorite new trends in creative yard design, despite having been around for hundreds of years. A gazing ball is a highly reflective, iridescent orb that sits atop some kind of perch in your garden, warding off evil and attracting good luck.
It also happens to look beautiful while it does so.
To make your own gazing ball out of an old bowling ball, you need paint and imagination. The idea is to be able to see all around the outdoor space as you are gazing into the orb, so use a metallic color for the top layer.
If your painting skills are not as good as your bowling, go for a solid color. Feeling brave? Try a swirly design instead. You can find step-by-step guides to creating a gazing ball and matching stand online.
DIY Garden Art
The possibilities for the bowling ball garden art you could decorate your yard with are endless! A gazing ball is only the beginning. There are countless other potential outdoor art projects you could try with your bowling ball.
Garden decor is a popular trend, DIY pieces in particular. You can check on a crafts website, blog page, or Pinterest for more idea inspiration and instructions, but here are a few to get you started:
There are few more fun pieces to add to your garden than a bowling ball ladybug. Most people like to see a splash of color amongst all that garden green, for which this painted ladybug is great. What you may love even more is how easy it is to do.
Once the bowling ball has been primed and painted red, you leave it to dry, add the detail, and varnish with a waterproof topcoat. If you feel like going one step further, use the finger hole to attach wings. Place it anywhere around the garden for a cute, quirky look.
You can use the same technique to make a bumblebee or any other little garden bug you like.
Mosaic is a classic trick to make any object into a work of art. The best thing about mosaic is that you can create the effect using so many different materials.
Glass, stone, and tile are three of the most traditional mosaic materials and could all be used on your bowling ball. Collect your mosaic pieces, sort them into color groups and map out your design. You also need glue, grout, gloves, and godly patience.
A project like this takes time but looks great when it is finished. Plus, every time someone compliments it in your garden, you get the satisfaction of saying, “I made it!”
Turn into a Lamp
Bowling ball lamps are an excellent addition to a man cave or modern house design. Using a drill, a normal glass bulb, and your choice of a lampshade, you can turn your bowling ball into a fully functioning bedside nightlight.
If you know a bit about wiring, you could complete the job solo. Those who are not confident to go it alone can find many places that know exactly how to do it.
You can also turn bowling balls into garden lights by installing solar-powered bulbs.
Create a Candy Dish or Bowl
If your bowling ball has already cracked in half, you may as well make the most of it. Eat your cereal each morning from a handmade bowl that you used to bowl with! Puns galore shall fill the rest of your days.
Alternatively, make it into a decorative candy bowl with a bit more bling and a shallower curve. You can choose to add a glass mosaic or other further decoration or leave the original shell of the bowling ball open- whatever you think is best.
You might need to head off-site for this one to find help sawing the bowling ball in half if it is not already broken. It also helps if you know a thing or two about sanding.
Look for a page online that can talk you through the technical details of the process, as the materials bowling balls are made off can be tricky to work with.
The spherical shape of a bowling ball lends itself to any occasion, especially where decorations are concerned. When its bowling days are over, your ball can be repurposed as a jack-o-lantern, snowman, or Easter egg.
Store it between seasons and re-paint it for each holiday.
What is the best kind of paint to use on a bowling ball?
Many people prefer to use spray paint to decorate bowling balls because of its versatility and how easy it is to work with.
Oil-based or acrylic paints can also be used, provided you prep the ball with plastic primer to help them stick. All-purpose, waterproof paints are a must.
Where can I donate my old bowling ball?
Your local goodwill store is bound to accept a used bowling ball, and the chances are it sells straight away! Alternatively, if your town has a youth club or local bowling alley, ask if they have use of it.
Some zoos also accept them to use as toys for certain animals, but only if there are no cracks.
Are bowling balls recyclable?
Sadly, due to the various materials that go into creating a bowling ball, they are not fully recyclable. Although some recycling plants may take them, the chances are they just end up in a landfill.
It is always better to donate or repurpose rather than throw away.
Can I sell a used bowling ball?
Provided it is not broken in half, there is no reason you cannot sell an old bowling ball. A little kid somewhere would probably love their own bowling ball to practice with before mum or dad splash out on a brand new one.
There are also plenty of people who collect bowling balls. A brand new ball is not cheap, so if yours is still looking good then it is bound to sell to someone looking to buy one second-hand.
When the day comes that your bowling ball must be put to pasture, don’t just leave it forgotten in a bag in your garage. After all the fun it brought to your life, doesn’t it deserve better?
Whether you shine it up and donate it to the local goodwill store or get creative and test out your DIY skills, find something cool to do. From a garden gazing ball to a new bedside bowling ball lamp, imagination is really the only limit.
If arts and crafts are not your strong suit, search for a website that may take old bowling balls and transform them for you.
Just because your bowling is better than your craft abilities doesn’t mean you can’t spruce up your old ball and give it the retirement it deserves. Make it yourself or have it made for you; it doesn’t matter. All that counts is the beautiful new craft project or garden decoration you can proudly display at home.
Not only would it look good, but it could also bring back memories of many a game played and won during the bowling balls’ previous life.