Pour painted Christmas ornaments: an easy way to turn clear glass or plastic balls into gorgeous, colourful homemade ornaments.
I first made pour-painted ornaments 20 years ago. A friend and I made all of our Christmas gifts by hand that year, and among many other things, we made dozens of ornaments out of clear glass balls.
I’m not sure where my friend discovered this pour painting process, because it was years before we had the internet, but we fell in love with it.
Everyone on my Christmas list received a set of these simple but beautiful ornaments along with their main gift that year.
This pour painting process is very easy. All you need are a few clear glass or plastic balls and acrylic craft paint.
Just look at the colour of these ornaments! Don’t they look amazing?
You may also want to see how we make glitter ornaments with clear plastic balls.
What is “pour painting”?
If you’ve never heard of pour painting, Aleacia from Dilly Dali Art demonstrates the process beautifully in her painted garden pot project for kids.
Kids of all ages will enjoy making these ornaments, but it’s a craft that’s best suited for older children and teenagers because it takes a gentle hand to get the results that we did.
My 13 year-old and I made the ones you see in this post.
What you’ll need to make your pour painted ornaments:
For your conviencience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- clear glass or plastic ornaments with removable tops
- acrylic craft paint (we used 4 or 5 colours for each ornament)
- organza ribbon
- small cups or containers (for draining your ornaments)
- 1 tsp rubbing alcohol (to clean ornaments)
Tips for Making Your Pour Painted Christmas Ornaments:
Prep so your paint sticks to the inside of your clear ornament:
You may want to prepare your ornaments by swishing them with a bit of rubbing alcohol to remove any residue from the factory. I’ve never done this, but some people have had trouble with their paint not sticking to the inside of their ornament. Rinsing with rubbing alcohol should prevent this from happening. (See this trouble shooting guide if you DID rinse with rubbing alcohol and your paint still won’t stick).
Pro tip: Be organized and efficient when pour-painting!
Once you’ve selected your paint colours, line the ornaments up so they’re ready to go.
This isn’t a race against the clock, but you do want to move efficiently to get all of your paint colours into your ornament before the previous colours entirely coat the inside of the ball.
Pouring your paint into your ornaments:
Time needed: 10 minutes.
How to Pour Paint Ornaments
- Add paint to ornament
Select a paint colour, and squirt some into an ornament.
- Turn ornament and add more paint
Give the ornament a quarter turn and squirt again. Repeat with the same colour a couple more times, tipping and turning your ornament so the paint coats some of the inside of the glass or plastic. Note: Leave enough glass uncoated for your other colours to cover it.
- Add a second colour
Now grab your second colour, and give a few small squirts, turning your ornament between squirts.
- Add remaining colours
Repeat with any remaining colours. If any small sections of the ornament are left uncoated, simply turn, or gently shake the ornament so the paint covers that space.
- Drain your ornament
When the inside of your ornament is completely coated with paint, turn it upside down over a small cup or container, and let the excess paint drip out.
Draining your ornament takes time
This could take a while. I let mine sit over-night, but depending on the temperature and humidity where you are, it could take a few days or even a few weeks for your ornaments to completely dry.
Look at the drippings that poured out of the ornaments! Aren’t they cool? I wonder what I could make with this gorgeous by-product!
Ready for hanging
Once your ornaments are dry, pop the tops back on them, and use some organza ribbon to make a loop and bow.
What do you think?
Isn’t this an easy and inexpensive way to make a stunning ornament? I love the swirls of colour and how glossy the plastic ornament now looks.
I hope you give pour-painting a try at home!
Ways to Gift These Ornaments
A single ornament would make a lovely gift for a teacher or neighbour, and a set of 4 or 6 would be great homemade gift for anyone on your Christmas list!
More ways to decorate clear, glass ornaments:
And you can find all of my easy and inexpensive Christmas crafts for kids on my Hooligans Christmas Pinboard.
Get the 3-5 Playful Preschool e-Book!
25+ Preschool activities by 25 bloggers, 10 printables, PLUS 50 links to activities not featured in the book.
Click to download your copy now!
Follow the Hooligans on Facebook!
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
Great idea. Love them.
Make marbled paper with the by-product (paint drop) 🙂
Phyllis H High
My thought exactly, Nicole. I love making papers. So just let paint drip into tray or baking sheet or pan with some sides, larger than paper size, instead of bowl. Cover with wrap until ready for paper or have paper ready while ornaments are drying too.
I made these last year and they turned out beautifully however I went to look at my ornaments to see what I have and what I don’t for this year’s project and the inside of my painted swirl acrylic ornament is all cracked?
Oh no! I’ve never had the paint crack. I wonder if it had something to do with the temperature you stored the ornaments at?
I can’t wait to try these pretty ornaments. We were making ornaments today. Definitely adding this to our list for hopefully next week. Thanks for sharing.
I just saw another way to decorate these as well. Swirl floor refinisher around the inside. Pour excess back into container. Pour glitter into ornament. Shake around until the inside of the ornament is completly covered. Replace silver top snd hang. Although I mst admit: I like the tye dye effect the paints take on
These are beautiful!! The perfect teacher gift! 🙂
Lovely! Agreed, they would make great gifts! The colors are so vibrant too. Thank you for sharing. Pinned!
Rachel | Racheous - Lovable Learning
These are simply gorgeous! Next year I’m certainly going to stock up on fillable ornaments like these (maybe on after Christmas sales!?) and create all the awesome ideas such as this one with my littlies!
I hope you do, Rachel. They’re so easy to make, but the results are so beautiful.
WOW! Those look like you broke the bank, they are plastic & big kids could do it for me. Sounds like a win win all around thank you so much for posting!
Janis Cox (@AuthorJanisCox)
Following you from Crafty Moms Share. Wonderful idea.Next year.
Janis http://www.janiscox.com Author of Tadeo Turtle
I like the colour mix that you greate.Bravo very nice job!
Love the idea, tried some band love how they turned out. I’m having a problem with the paint coming off completely in spots. What am I doing wrong
Same. Did you ever figure out a solution?
Gracias por la idea. Where did you get the balls?!?
I got them at Michael’s Crafts, Hazel. I think most craft stores or maybe even Walmart or the Dollar Store (in the craft section) carry them during the holiday season.
I’m having trouble with paint not covering or coming off too. What am I doing wrong?
I”m not sure, Tracy. Acrylic paint will adhere to most surfaces as long as the surface is clean (free of any oils or residue) and dry. You’re using Acrylics, correct? I’ve done this project with both glass and plastic balls with success. I’m not sure what you mean by “coming off”. Do you mean it’s all just running right off when you tip the ball upside down, or do you mean it’s flaking off after it’s dry?
I’m having the problem of it almost evaporating (I guess that’s the right word). I’ll pour it in, get all the unpainted spots covered, and then let the excess drip out. The next day when it looks like as much of the excess paint as possible has dripped out, I turn it over to let it dry inside. When I go back to look and make sure the inside is done to put it up, there are clear places in at least 1 area of the ornament. Sometimes one entire side of the ornament is clear with just specks of paint left in that area. I don’t have any idea why they are messing up. I’ve put all this time into working on them and at least $50-$75 on this project. It’s starting to seem like it’s a waste of time and money.PLEASE HELP!!!!
Had the same problem with the paint just running off and not adhering. So frustrating since I successfully did this project years ago. Cheap acrylic paint? Using Styrofoam cups instead of plastic??? Ornaments have some coating inside??? Only 3 differences I can think of.
We made these last year for Christmas and I just looked at them the other day and the paint inside has all cracked and doesn’t look the same at all. I used acrylic paints…did I do something wrong?
I had the same problem, took the top off, and discovered that the paint was still wet. When I tilted the ornament the paint redistributed. Left the top off, tipped it upside down over a thick paper towel and let it dry. It turned out just great
Have u ever tried this project with snap together plastic balls? A parent in my classroom was so nice to get them for me to make with the kids in my class, but I realize I’ll have to have them put the paint in a different way? I’ve done this project with 4 year olds and they can do it easily with supervision!!
I’ve just recently tried this with acrylic paint and plastic balls, turned out beautiful, but very very slow to dry. It’s been a week and just noticed the paint on half the ball has just, like slid away! how come? I don’t think I used too much paint, but do you think that it a possibility?
I’m like a few others with the problem of the paint setting up good till several days later. Then then paint started to split in places, all most like cracking in areas. Not sure what is going n. Even switch to new paint .
I’m really not sure either Vickie. I’ve made many of them over the years, and I’ve not had that problem.
Same problem as others after pouring paint inside plastic ornament letting excess drain and letting dry additional days glue top on within a few days the color seems to slide off in side?
The colors on mine seemed to blur together. It wasn’t like that when I did it, but not long after I turned it upside down to dry it, they blurred together. Any suggestions?
I made 3 dozen of these with my 2 year old grandson, and they have been a hit with everyone! With him being so young, he used a lot of paint. The colors did change as they dripped, but the outcome was still awesome!
I’m having the same problem as others. I tried these a few years ago with glass and, after a few days, the paint just slid off the sides. So, this year I tried with plastic, followed the directions precisely and the same thing happened again. I’m so disappointed and don’t understand what’s going wrong. I’m using acrylic craft paint. 🙁
I’m really not sure, Nancy. I’ve had some of our ornaments for years. I’ve heard others say the same as you, but I’m not sure what causes that to happen.
I just tried this and my acrylic paint just laid inside the ball, it didn’t run as I twisted and turned the ball around. I bought Artist’s Loft acrylic paint from Michael’s. Is there something else I should be doing?
I really don’t know why your acrylic paint didn’t work, Teah. As long as it’s thin and liquified (not thick and drying up), it will run around the ornament just like it runs out of the bottle.
How thick was your paint? Assuming it was thin enough to run out of the bottle, I can’t see why it wouldn’t run around the ball.
You are using artist grade acrylic which is thicker than craft grade acrylic paint.
When I do this project, it always helps to use rubbing alcohol to swirl around and “coat” the inside of the ornament first. That way the paint will adhere better when used. Just make sure you let the ornament dry 24 hours first after using the alcohol.
Thank you. I will try this next time. I was successful years ago but this year had the paint problem of it running off and leaving empty spots as it dries. Disappointing.
I have made these in the past and I always rinse them out with hot water and vinegar a day or two before so that there is a clean surface for the paint to adhere to.
i tried making these last year and over time the paint pooled down in the bottom of the glass ball. Are there any tricks to get the paint to stay in place?
I’m not sure why that happens to some. I’ve heard that complaint before. I’m sorry I can’t offer you any advice there, Beth. 🙁
Are you able to put stuff in it once its done
I suppose you could, but you do risk the objects scratching the paint. Also, and I’m stating the obvious here, you wouldn’t be able to see what you’ve put into the ornament.
You’re welcome, Suzanne!
Acrylic paint is super thick and it doesn’t move easily. Is there a way to thin it out some?
Is your acrylic paint old, Alison? I’ve been using craft acrylics for years, and when they’re fresh, they’re very runny. You can always add a bit of water to thickened acrylics, but I’m not sure if it would affect the way the paint would adhere to the ornament.
How long does it take for the ornaments to dry?
What causes paint not to stick very good inside?
It could be that the balls had residue inside. I would rinse them with rubbing alcohol, and then with water, and let them dry, or it could be the type of paint you’re using. A quality acrylic craft paint should work well i.e. deco-art, Martha Stewart etc.
How long does it take the paint to dry on the inside of the ornament.? TYIA
I would leave them for at least 24 hours, Jackie, and possibly up to 48 to make sure they’re totally dry.
I painted a plastic ornament i don’t like how it turned out. How can i repaint it or can you
If the paint hasn’t dried you may be able to get it out with hot water. It’s going to be tricky if it’s dried. If the paint were on the outside of the ornament, you could scrub it off with warm water and a cloth, but that’s not going to be easy to do with the paint on the inside. You can try filling it with hot, soapy water, and shaking it to see if it will loosen, but I’m not sure how successful you’ll be, Joy. Sorry. 🙁
HELP neither paint or glue stick to the inside of my glass bulbs. What do I do?
I don’t know why that would have happened, Katrina. I’ve used plastic and glass balls and I’ve never had that problem. Are you using brand name, quality paint and glue? Did you wash your ornaments out and dry them completely first?
How much paint do you think I would need for 130 ornaments?
It’s really too difficult to say, Rachael. You put a squirt of each colour into each ornament. I’m guessing a “squirt” would be between a tsp and a tablespoon, but it’s too difficult to know what that equates to in # of bottles. I would probably pick up 3 small bottles of each colour to start. If you use acrylic craft paint for other crafts, any leftovers won’t go to waste. 🙂
Scratching the inside when I place the caps back on, so frustrating, any suggestions?
Hmm. I’ve never had that happen, Teresa. Are your caps the same as the ones in my photos? Is it just the metal prongs that are scratching the paint? It sounds as if they might be longer or stronger than mine. To prevent it from happening, you could always brush a little clear nail polish over the paint in the neck of the ornaments to protect the paint.
Paula Van Dyke
Take the cap off of the hook, put cap on and then put holder through the holes. It should just snap into place without scratching along the sides.
Great tip! Thanks for sharing, Paula!
Note to mention. Alcohol ink paints cannot be used on plastic balls, only glass.
Last year, I used plastic balls (25 for $10 at Michael’s), and Used Elmer’s Glue and Glitter on the insides. Add a little water to make it swirl to cover better. Gave them out as Christmas gifts to co-workers. These was the 2nd year to do ball ornaments, and they were anticipating how I’d change it up. My boss LOVED it and can’t wait for this year’s take. Excited to try the marbeling. Will get glass balls to try spongy Alcohol Ink paints with.
How much paint do yo need to do this with
It’s hard to say how much you use, Emily. Just squirt some of each colour in, and swirl it around the ornament. It’s not a lot, but you’ll get a feel for it after you make a couple.
I tried this tutorial and some of my ornaments are still wet inside after a few days. I dripped out excess too. After a few days my paint had all settled to the bottom of the ornament. Any advise?
When you dripped out the excess, how long did you let them sit upside down for? If your paint is fully dry before tipping them upright and hanging them, the paint won’t be able to drip back down to the bottom of the ornament. The only thing I can guess is that they didn’t drain and dry long enough before you turned them upright.
If you want to make sure they are dry and you are using glass balls not plastic. turn them upside down in an old cupcake pan. Set your stove to 200 and put the pan in for a half hour to an hour. Let them cool before handling them. Works great.
Ok I did this and they turned out really good but after turming them upside down to drain and dry n ow I have aparently misses spots, do I just and more paint and dry again?
Yes, I would just add a little more paint to the ornament and swirl it to cover the missed spots, Connie.
My paint wont stick no matter how many times I add it. I even tried to blow dry the inside. I tried some with doing alcohol beforehand and some not. What am I doing wrong?
Hmmm, I don’t know why your paint won’t stick, Connie. We’ve made these many times over the years, and haven’t had that problem. If your ornaments are clean and dry the paint should stick. The only thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that we get better coverage when we use a high quality acrylic craft paint rather than a thin dollar store acrylic craft paint.
Thanks for letting me know about pour painting. I am going to use it now this christmas.
Hi Jackie. My granddaughter and I are making 100 of these ornaments to sell at a school craft fair. I have cleaned the ornaments with alcohol, and let completely dry. We have Outdoor Patio acrylic paint, Apple Barrel acrylic paint and Craft Smart acrylic paint. At first I thought it wasn’t sticking because I hadn’t cleaned the ornaments with alcohol. started with only a few of these to try it out first, since I had never done these before. So I rinsed out the ones that the paint hadn’t stuck, let them dry, alcohol rinsed them and let that dry, and finally it covered. The next ones same thing! Not covering and staying on them. They cover completely and look really cool, it’s the upside down draining and drying part that I start getting the uncoated spots on them, so I thought maybe it was mixing the different brands of paint in them and they weren’t playing well together, so I made sure my granddaughter was only using the same brand of paint colors in her ornaments too, and we get the great coverage as usual, but as soon as we turn them upside down to drain and dry, We get uncoated spots. We use the plastic ball ornaments, because the preschoolers will also be buying these. I really don’t know what else I can do to make sure they’re coated other than turning them every few days. Because it was over a week that the paint had finally dried in some of the ornaments that had missed spots on them, so I turned them and would let them sit 2 or 3 days, and that spot would cover, then I would turn them to the next bare spot and let it sit until it coated, and finally after at least a week of turning them, because the spots would get bare again, they finally coated and can be sold, but this newest batch has even bigger bare spots. I’m afraid it will take me all the way to Dec. to get them coated enough that I will feel good about selling them. Right now I am very frustrated with them and I don’t understand how they don’t stay coated. You have never had the problem of them leaving bare spots when you turn them upside down to drain? The paint we are making sure we use is Craft Smart from Michael’s, the plastic ball ornaments are from Michael’s, and short of getting alcohol from Michael’s, that’s the only product different now. Please Help. I really need corrective answers for this. Thank you for your help and time..
Hi Wendi! I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with your ornaments. I honestly can’t figure out what the problem would be. I’ve made them so many times over the years, and I’ve never had a problem with the paint sticking. It’s probably been 3 or 4 years since I last made them though. I wonder if Craft Smart paint has changed the way they make their paint since then. I would try adding a different brand to cover up the bare spots and see if that works. DecoArt is a quality brand that I’ve used in the past. Please let me know if this works for you.
Wendi can I be nosey and ask what price you put on the finished ornaments. I have done several of these ornaments for an upcoming craft sale but have no idea what to charge for them. I don’t want to take a loss but I also don’t want to price them so high no one buys them. thanks
Can this be done with plastic vertically split ornaments? I want to be able to open them after the paint has dried.
You could test one to see if it would work. The paint might seal the ornament and then peel or flake when you separate the two halves.
Hi Jackie, your baubles look amazing. Love them. I’ve been playing around with this same thing last week.. marbling some paint inside plastic baubles but I’m having issues with the paint not drying. It’s been a week and still wet inside. If I put them in the sun, the paint just heats up and runs off. I’ve tried using a hair dryer on cool but nothing seems to help. I’m using acrylic paint but maybe it’s the quality I’m not sure. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
That’s so strange. What’s the humidity like where you are, Deb? You’re leaving the lids off, correct? I can’t figure out why your paint won’t dry. Acrylics typically have a pretty quick dry time.
Would this work if you added glitter after filling the ornaments with paint?
It might, but I’m not sure if the glitter would become too coated in paint to really see it, Know what I mean? You could give it a try. You might also try a mix of glitter and clear glue (no paint) to see what kind of effect you’d get.
Make this cute and super easy snowman ornament with just a few craft supplies. A great Christmas craft project for kids of all ages! #christmascraftsforkids #christmasornaments #craftsforkids
Does Tempera Paint work the same? That’s all we have at our school.
That’s a very good question, Robeena. I’ve never tried twitch Tempera paint. You could give one ornament a try and see how it goes. I’m not 100% sure if it would adhere to the plastic or glass the way acrylic paint does. As long as it does, there shouldn’t be a problem. Tempera paint would be more prone to scratching off, but with this craft, the paint is inside the bottle, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Please let me know if you try it!
I made the acrylic painted glass ornaments they were beautiful but the sun evaporated the paint to dust or to just plain gone on some. Any suggestions.
What brand of paint did you use, Annamarie. A quality brand like DecoArt or Americana shouldn’t give you any problems.
I am not a very good crafter even though I want to feed my creativity. This took some work on my part with goopy paint and bottles that wouldn’t squirt but I DID IT! And the ornaments are gorgeous! I can’t wait for Christmas!!
Yay! I’m so glad you gave it a try, Mindy!
How do you get the colors in the ornaments to stay so vibrant? My paint colors blend together when I try to get all the spots on the inside of ornament covered. I know paint consistency is important but if it is too thick it then won’t move to cover the inside of ornament. I’m making sure it’s not too thin as well.
I didn’t do anything to get the colours to stay vibrant, Laura. I didn’t alter the consistency of the paint at all. We just pour it in, swirl it, and drain it.