How to successfully paint glass ornaments

A few years ago I fell in love with this Horchow ad in House Beautiful:


I mean, maaaaan. That makes every other tree in the world look like Charlie Brown’s. I wanted to replicate it, but I can’t imagine the cost for 500 blown-glass ornaments.

However, the ad reminded me of a blog post featuring beautiful painted ornaments, so I dug into my Pinterest boards and found this:



Yeah, the colors are divine, and I love how glossy those babies are. There wasn’t a tutorial for painting the ornaments, so I read up on adding paint to the inside of glass balls—I thought having the paint inside would be a good way to prevent peeling or scratching. Then I bought a million glass balls and a bunch of paint samples at Home Depot and started pouring in the paint.


Unfortunately, the process wasn’t as easy as “swirl and hang.” In fact, I threw away about eight large bulbs before I finally got these ornaments right. Here are a few tips for those tackling this project themselves:

• Use the right paint. I tried at least three brands of sample paint before finally landing upon this:


It’s Behr Premium Plus Ultra with the ultra pure white base. It can be tinted whatever color you want, and it’s the only kind I recommend. Everything else left hideous streaks that multiple paint applications couldn’t cover (hence the batch destined for the dumpster).

• Or use a little heat. If you can’t get this base, my mother-in-law had some success with another Behr base by using a blow dryer to speed up the process and prevent streaks. It worked great but took lots more time to blow-dry the inside of each ball.

• Let them air dry completely. I put my ornaments upside down in an empty egg carton to drip dry and waited a couple days before putting the caps back on.

• If you decide to spray paint the outside, the color will stick just fine. But please don’t make my mistake of buying matte paint. I used that for my green ornaments, and they look terribly flat. Get glossy instead.


That’s it! Choosing the exact colors you want for the tree allows for lots of creativity, and these ornaments are so luminous, especially the red ones. Happy painting! •




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