How to Paint Glass Ball Ornaments

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Hand-decorated ornaments add character to your tree and become heirlooms in future years. These marbleized glass ornaments are so easy to make, the entire family can join in the fun. By swirling wet paint inside clear glass balls and letting the colors mix, every ornament will turn out differently – but they'll all be beautiful and will create great memories.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Things You'll Need

  • Clear glass ball ornaments, 3 1/2-inch diameter

  • Acrylic paint in squeeze bottles

  • Water

  • Small paper cups

  • Wood stirrers

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 1: Remove the Ornament Caps

Carefully remove the ornament caps from the glass balls. They slide off easily, but you want to be sure not to break the glass.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong


Instead of using glass balls, you can also find clear plastic ball ornaments in crafts stores. They look just like glass and are safer for children to use.

Step 2: Dilute the Paint

Acrylic paint fresh straight from the bottle tends to be a little thick. Diluting it with water makes it easier to swirl around inside the ball. Squeeze about a tablespoon of paint inside a paper cup, add about a half a teaspoon of water, and stir with a wooden stick. The consistency should be similar to melted ice cream. Add more paint if the mixture looks too runny. Choose two to three colors of paint for each ball.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 3: Pour Paint Into the Ball

Pour about a dime-size amount of paint into the ball. You can use the rim of the opening to steady the paper cup as you pour. Start with your lightest color first.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Then slowly rotate the ball to allow the paint to flow in different directions.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 4: Add the Other Colors

Continue with the second color, pouring a dime-sized amount of paint into the ball and swirling it around. Then add the third color in the same way.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

As the colors mix, a marble pattern emerges. The thicker your paint, the more distinct your colors will be. The thinner it is, the more blended they become. Keep rotating the ball until the entire surface of the ball is covered. Add more paint if there are empty areas.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 5: Shake Out Excess Paint

Because the paint is in a closed environment, it will take longer to dry if there is a puddle of paint inside the ball. Shake out any excess paint, using some old newspaper to catch the drips.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 6: Dry for At Least 24 Hours

Place the ornaments on newspaper to dry for at least 24 hours. Position them so that the openings point down to allow any extra paint to drain. As the paint dries, the colors will continue to blend, creating a beautiful marble effect.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 7: Re-Insert the Ornament Caps

Carefully place the ornament caps back on the ball ornaments, and you're done. Notice the variations in the marbling effect. The ornaments with the the solid sections of color were created with thicker paint, while the ones with more diffuse marbling were made with thinner paint. These ornaments look beautiful on a tree, but they also make an impressive display when placed in a decorative bowl.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong