How to Paint Glass Ball Ornaments

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Painted glass ornaments are a fun and easy DIY project suitable for all ages. Swirling a few different colors of craft paint inside a glass ornament creates a marbled effect, and by using different color combinations and swirling techniques, you get unique results every time. You can also paint the outside of glass Christmas ornaments with any design you like that suits your artistic skills. Make a whole set of painted Christmas ornaments to give as gifts or to hang on your own Christmas tree. This tutorial explains the basic method and supplies needed to create holiday ornaments, but you can adapt it to suit your own preferred style of Christmas décor.

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How to paint the inside of glass ornaments

Things You'll Need

  • Clear glass ball ornaments

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Egg carton

  • Paper towels

  • Glitter (optional)

  • Acrylic paints

  • Hot glue (if needed)

  • Ribbon

Tip

If you want to make these DIY Christmas ornaments with small children or if you're concerned about breakable ornaments, use clear plastic baubles instead of glass ones. You should be able to find both types of clear ornaments at craft stores or your local dollar store.

1. Prepare the work space

Cover your work surface, wear old clothes and place all the supplies within reach. You might want to plan paint color combinations in advance. Open an empty egg carton, which will hold the glass ball ornaments as you work.

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Carefully remove the ornament caps from the baubles and set the caps aside. Sit each ornament inside a compartment of the egg carton.

2. Clean the glass ornaments

Clean the glass to keep paint from sliding off inside the glass ball. Add a few drops of rubbing alcohol inside each glass ornament. Place your thumb over the opening and shake each ornament so that the rubbing alcohol contacts the entire inside surface. Shake any excess alcohol into the sink and place the ornaments back in the egg carton to dry. Any remaining traces of alcohol should evaporate quickly.

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If you will be painting the outside of the glass ornaments, apply rubbing alcohol to a paper towel and wipe the outer surface as well. Wait for all the excess alcohol to evaporate before continuing.

3. Add glitter (optional)

If you want to make glitter ornaments, add some glitter inside the bauble before you start the paint pouring. About 1/4 teaspoon of glitter should be plenty.

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4. Pour in the first paint color

Choose the first paint color for your Christmas ornaments. Squeeze a small amount—approximately 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon—of acrylic paint directly into the ornament. Roll the ornament around and around, tilting it at different angles so that the paint swirls inside the ornament and creates a nice pattern. Don't aim to fully coat the inside of the ornament with the first paint color; there should still be clear glass in some places.

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If you added glitter, it will become incorporated into the paint while you swirl.

Tip

Some brands of acrylic paint are thicker than others. If the paint is too thick to get the swirling effect you desire, dilute it with a little water before adding the paint to the ornament.

5. Add a second paint color

Select a second paint color that will complement the first and add a small amount to the ornament. Consider a metallic color for a festive look. Swirl, tilt and roll the ornament in the same way as you did after the first paint pour. For a marbled effect, the two paints should blend together where the edges of their swirls meet, but you should still be able to see the individual separate colors in places as well.

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If you will be adding a third paint color, try to leave some clear glass spaces. Otherwise, roll the ornament around until the entire glass is coated in swirls of paint.

6. Add a third paint color (optional)

Add a third color of acrylic paint and swirl the ornament around until you have your desired effect and the inside of the ornament is fully coated in the paints.

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Tip

While it’s possible to add even more colors of paint, the risk is that the overall effect becomes muddy looking. If you do add three or more paints, use a smaller amount of each one.

7. Pour out excess paint

Tilt the ornament so that any excess paint pours out onto a paper towel. As you continue making ornaments, you can figure out the best amount of paint to pour into each one to reduce waste.

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8. Let the Christmas ornaments dry

Set the ornaments back inside the egg carton and leave them undisturbed until the paint is fully dry. This might take 24 hours or more depending on the thickness of the paint.

9. Attach the hangers

Reattach the ornament caps to the Christmas baubles. If they seem a little loose, apply some hot glue under the caps before attaching them. Tie a length of ribbon to each cap to create hangers for your Christmas tree ornaments.

How to Paint the Outside of Glass Christmas Ornaments

You can also paint glass with acrylic paint on the outside of Christmas ornaments using a paintbrush. Depending on your painting skills, this could be complex and detailed or quite simple yet still festive and pretty.

For a simple version, coat the entire inside of a Christmas ornament with dark blue paint and on the outside, paint small silver or white stars or snowflakes. Use a stencil to paint monograms on ornaments to give as personalized Christmas gifts. Create a colorful pattern with many small paint drips from above. Use a black paint marker to outline a design and fill in the spaces with colored acrylic paint for a stained glass effect.

With this fun craft project, the options for handpainted Christmas ornaments are truly endless!

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